Furmint is the primary grape in Tokaji Aszú, Hungary’s renowned sweet wine, which is vinified after the fruit is overripe and affected by botrytis. It is blended with Hárslevelü, an indigenous Hungarian variety, and sometimes Muscat. The wine is produced by adding crushed, overripe grapes to the finished wine to achieve a degree of sweetness that is rated from three to six puttonyos, six being the sweetest.
When fermented dry, Furmint can make a wine that is medium in body with considerable depth, showcasing smoky minerality.
The Furmint vine buds early and ripens very late. There are two clonal variations, one with green berries and one with yellow; the latter is considered superior. Extremely high in acidity and potential alcohol, the fruit is dense in extract but not particularly aromatic. The berries’ thin skins make them exceptionally prone to Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot, which typifies Tokaji Aszú.
Dry Furmint can be difficult to produce successfully. The vine ripens so late that unbotrytized grapes for dry wines may need to be picked after those for sweet wines, the opposite of the normal procedure.
Furmint was brought to the Tokaji region by Walloon growers (French-speaking Belgians) in the 13th century. The vine’s name is taken from the word froment, for the wheat-gold color of the wine it produces.
Furmint is widely planted throughout Hungary. It is also found in Austria, Slovakia, Croatia, Romania and the former republics of the Soviet Union.