Thursday, May 18, 2023

A dry Furmint! Yes indeed, here's one from Diwald, Austria's organic pioneer. And a Rioja white Maturana

A dry Furmint! Yes indeed, here's one from Diwald, Austria's organic pioneer

And below, a Rioja white Maturana, another rarity

Diwald Furmint vom Löss Trocken 2021, 12.0% ABV 
€21.00. Diwald Furmint stockists: Urru, Bandon/ Mannings, Ballylickey/ McCurtain
Wine Cellar, Cork.  Mary Pawle

Producers Diwald, always reliable, tell us “Eisenhut is the warmest vineyard in our village. It is 100% south-facing, with burnt loess soils. The site gets its name from the ironstone which can still be found here. Furmint requires a long ripening period, which is why the Eisenhut site was practically predestined for it.”

Importer Mary Pawle is delighted to have this listed again after last year’s absence. “Grapes from a 100 year old Tokay selection, late picked before botrytis. Matured on full lees for 8-12 months. With aromas of Williams Pears, it offers firm acidity. A unique wine.” 

Furmint? You may well ask. It is perhaps best known as the varietal used in Hungary’s famous dessert wines Tokaji Aszú but can, as here, be used to produce a dry wine, though the picking time is crucial. 

Colour is a light gold with micro-bubbles clinging to the glass. Aromas are gentle, sweet notes, sour notes. And that tartness and sweetness plus that acidity feature on the palate. Just swirl it around in your mouth and you get the full show before a dry finish. The acidity is reasonably bracing, not unlike some Txakoli wines, so the advice is to take it easy, sip rather than gulp.

The time of harvest for Furmint depends fundamentally on the weather conditions, as this “diva” of a grape is quite prone to rot, according to Diwald: We pick the grapes from a 100-year-old Tokay selection – we pick them late and without botrytis, and then ferment them with a small quantity of whole berries. The wine is left to mature on the full lees for 8 – 12 months, sometimes in stainless steel, sometimes in wood, whatever the vintage allows. Furmint is quite a character: it offers firm acidity, aromas of Williams pears and its typical notes of honey. Always individual, stubborn and fascinating!

The wine is organic and vegan friendly. Diwald have been “organic pioneering’ for more than 40 years, having started in 1976. The grapes have been hand-picked and spontaneously fermented. The label features a drawing of a pair of ground squirrels playing ball, I think!

Wine Folly suggest pairing it with herb-crusted poultry or fish, also try it with sushi and Chinese dumplings.

Highly Recommended.

A Rioja White From The Ancient And Obscure Maturana Blanca

Valcaliente Blanco Reserva Rioja DOC 2018, 14%, 

€21.00 (New to portfolio, not widely available yet) Mary Pawle 

Not too sure that I’ve ever drank wine made from White Maturana grapes before. The grapes are ancient, obscure, according to “…wines are usually light-bodied, with high acidity and flavors that range between citrus and more exotic quince-like fruit tastes…”.

The Regulatory Council of the Rioja DOC say it is the oldest grape variety to have a written record in Rioja. It is mentioned in a text dating to 1622. 

“The most outstanding characteristics of Maturana Blanca are its low pH and high acidity, high tartaric acid levels and low potassium levels. These characteristics compensate the high alcohol levels that this variety can reach.”

This unconventional white by Valcaliente has a deepish golden hue. The aromatics are rich with scents of exotic fruit (banana, lychee), apple too. It is smooth on the palate with those strong fruit flavours prominent especially at the finish where its acidity comes into play and balances it up to a degree, leaving a slightly bitter finish of mid length. 

Quite an unusual wine. And the producers recommend pairing it with creamy, blue and semi-cured cheeses, white meats and, "especially indicated with seafood paella". “Can be enjoyed alone or with good company,” they say. Looking for something different? This could be the one! Well worth a try.

It has been aged in Bordeaux French oak barrels for one year (according to the website) and matured in bottle during a minimum of one year, “obtaining a perfect white Reserva".

Viura is the top white wine grape in Rioja and Maturana is down and distant in third place. For all that, Grapes & Wines say both Maturana grapes (there is also a red) are regarded in Rioja "as of high quality”. 

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