Somlói Apátsági Pince – Furmint, 2008
Shiny deep golden yellow with a vibrant brownish tone.
Very intense nose of higly concentrated minerals and honey with a botrytis accent. A nice weight on the palate. Savory and minerally first, a bit dull and tart from the midpalate. Tea notes emerge over a deep and concentrated layer of minerals, preceding traces of oak.
Somlói Apátsági Pince have built a cult following over the years. Their wines showing an even heavier character and rocky edge in the last two years I really wonder if they can break into the mainstream but I have doubts. I’m looking forward to see where they’re heading next.
It’s time for me to catch up with my other Somló favorite Spiegelberg.
Somlói Apátsági Pince are as clerical as I am although their commitment to artisan methods is almost religious.
Juhfark is a varietal despised by many, including wine critics, never mind that it is now a matter of fact that Juhfark is able to express terroir brilliantly and although the grape’s vinious notes are always present, the wines made of Juhfark can be complex, fruity and minerally in the same time.
Somlói Apátsági Pince not just realised this but they managed to put it into practice, as we have seen in previous vintages. This is their latest attempt.
Somlói Apátsági Pince – Juhfark, 2009
Straw inclined to mid-golden hue. The nose kicks off with rich minerality, a rocky explosion actually that also implies saltyness, cereals and a hint of vanilla, with traces of acidity. Later lime tree blossom and other floral notes emerge.
On the palate it’s rich and ample with fruity aromatics and an exciting minerally texture to it. Although primarily minerally, the palate is loaded with fruit: fairly rich lemon, grapefruit, apricot and even radish and kohlrabi whilst it also reveals a botrytis-like undertone. The sweetness (it could be the 14% alcohol) suits this full-bodied wine as it is rebalanced with a good dose of dense, salty minerality and pleasant acidity.
The finish could be longer, but this is a terrific wine even at higher temperatures. Not cheap, but fairly priced.
Comments are rare on this wine blog and April was particularily very poor in opinions. As a response to the most active visitor this month, I’d like to share with you my latest notes on his Juhfark from 2008.
Medium-deep golden yellow. Flinty nose, but only a little, and only for a while, still, it’s something new from Somlói Apátsági Pincészet. More than that, lot of rocky, salty minerality. Robust bouquet. The well-known Juhfark notes are hidden behind a very earthy character. Pretty much the same on the palate except a slightly appalling, long-lasting bitterness from the mid-palate on. Full-bodied, weighty wine, supported by rather heavy, not so fresh acidity. I like it more when I take a large draught. But whatever you do, it’s very salty which I like with notes of unripe stewed apricot and quince, and lemon-like acidity in the finish. There are notes of asparagus and even hints of botrytis, which I’m sure Zoltán will soon deny. Few hours later tons of candied apricot peel.
PLEASE CARRY ON READING THE COMMENTS TO GET THE CORRECT AND FULL PICTURE OF THE WINE.
Price: HUF 2 890
I wasn’t exactly a Hárslevelű fan until I met this one here, although it was a late harvest version. I’ve been looking forward to Somlói Apátsági Hárslevelű since I first met this small winery from south-eastern Somló in March at the Somló Tavasz wine event at Festetics Kastély. I was impressed by the mineral, fruity and mouthfilling character of their Olaszrizling, Furmint and Hilla cuvée. That seemed like a very promising start from this experimental and apparently patient winery, established already in 2002 but coming out with their first commercially available sortiment only recently. In March, it looked like they found if not their own style but a path that would potentially lead them to being establishing amongt the most sought after wineries of Somló.
Rather dark golden yellow hue with brownish-brassy reflections. The nose is very intense tea (sweet lemon flavored ice tea actually of a very particular producer) with a heavy mineral undertone and a hint of tobacco, later nutmeg. This set of aromas is translated well on to the palate supported by lot of acidity. The wine has some residual sugar (it’s semi sweet) but with this lot of lemon-grapefruit acidity it feels well balanced, with it’s high concentration of substance including notes of stewed apricot and unripe plum(!). The wine shows some signs of oxidation, intentionally or not (the wine was aged in oak barrels for almost a year). Good length with a slightly appalling tart accent.
This wine clearly has the potential but in 2008 it misses the target, although it shows some very important features of a great wine.
Score: 5 points
Price: HUF 2 500
This Hárslevelű has a very heavy character and I couldn’t drink more than two galsses. It reminded me in character of a Furmint(!) I had earlier this year. I was planning to buy some Árvay wines at the end of the summer then they were aggressively discounted, with 50% off at one of my usual sources. Then I got a call from a friend that a major retailer had the Furmint on sale well under HUF 1 000 and I think he bought the whole lot. Anyway, the notes of the wine have never been published (I do that sometimes, out of lazyness I guess). But that wine had a very similar, heavy, mouthfilling, acidic, mineral character with a tart finish, very much like this Hárslevelű.
The future role of Juhfark in Somló has always been debated and fortunately I’m not qualified to enter into this seemingly never ending discussion. That this grape plays an important role in marketing the region is however certain but whether this should be the flagship varietal of Somló is another question. I didn’t find out this time but I found some very promising wines, and some appalling wines too.
Once again, these notes are quick tasting notes taken in horrible conditions therefore they’re short and not complete, but hopefully they’re good indicators of each wine’s quality and their potential.
Hollóvár: this Juhfark has exactly the same flint character on the nose as the Olaszrizling with a melted butter and vanilla undertone and later with light gooseberry aromas. On the palate it’s firm, with mineral and herby notes. Score: 6
Somlói Apátsági Pince: this one has an exciting fruity-floral character on the nose. It’s more complex, intense but refreshing in the same time and very pleasant. It’s broad palate has a tiny bit of sweetness but there’s also enough acidity to balance it and wet-stone and a salty-minerality gives it further more depth. Long and complex finish. This wine stands out with the intensity on both the palate and the nose and with its aromatic salty-sweet balance. Very good value for the money. Score: 7+
Spiegelber: clean, intense, fairly ripe apple nose with a butter edge and an apple-skin element. well balanced with a pleasantly sharp acidity providing backbone to this light-medium-bodied wine. A bit salty. Another exceptionally good value for the money. Score: 7-
Kolonics, Juhfark, 2007: this Juhfark has a heavy, old character of old-school handicraft winemaking. Score: 3
Tornai, Juhfark (Aranyhegy): flint on the nose with a woody element. On the palate, veggie soup. Score: 5
Tornai, juhfark (Grófi): with a veggie-soup character on the nose, this wine is more complex than the Aranyhegy juhfark. It’s well integrated on the palate with good presence of pear and soup elements. Score: 6-
Bogdán: like the Kolonics Juhfark, this one also has an old-school handicraft character with sulphit elements on the nose and on the palate. There’s some weedy note on the nose. Score: 3/3+
Bogdán- Juhfar Késői szüret: 3 points
Despite the disappointing wineries (Kolonics and Bogdán) this tasting confirms that Somló and Juhfark has a promising future in Hungary’s winemaking and ensures a major space in my personal cellar for these wines.
It is widely believed that the Somló wines have a strong local character, the terroir providing foundation for it. Tasting some of the the most respected local winemakers’ wines side by side will give you another impression though. Others even question whether Somló, already the smallest of Hungary’s historical wine regions, can be regarded as one single region proposing that Somló mountain (a hill, actually) could be split into upper (more volcanic rocky ascent) and lower (more flat, with sometimes powdery soil) regions of very different local climate, not to mention that only the south-western slopes with bigger solar exposure should be really considered as part of the Somló region.
With two persons on average sharing a square meter of the beautiful Festetics Palota in Budapest, the Somló Évjáratbemutató 2008 was far from being an ideal place to find answers to my questions.
These young wines are barrel samples so they’re still expected to change and develop a lot, so the following notes are just impressions rather than result of careful analysis. The scores are hopefully reflecting this potential but I may have made more mistakes this time than usual. Also note that all wines are from 2008 except otherwise stated.
Bazaltbor – Olaszrizling: This Olaszrizling has a fruity nose with apple and pear aromas also on the palate. Fresh, young with lively acids. Score: 4
Bazaltbor Olaszrizling Válogatás: Now this one has a powerful, fresh and clean elderberry bouquet and a more elegant character in general. Still a medium-bodied wine but much better integrated and well-balanced. Score: 5+
Györgykovács – Olaszrizling: This Olaszrizling has an intense, complex mineral nose. On the palate it’s more simple with a small bitterness, and it’s very dry. Score: 5+/6-
Dénes Hegybirtok – Olaszrizling: Vanilla and melted butter aromas on the nose, quite intensely. Has not been filtered yet so its very dense in color and on the nose too. Good texture, creamy but low acidity. The sweet sensation on the palate is a result of the malolactic fermentation as it has no residual sugar. Score: 4
Spiegelber – Olaszrizling: Complex pear and floral aromas on the nose but more simple on the palate, although full-bodied. Very dry with pear notes and a bit of minerality. Score: 4+
Kreinbacher – Olaszrizling: A distinguished bright, lively color. Great nose, very complex of clean elderberry and gooseberry elements and a sulphite and city gas underpinning. Later on the nose: Veggie and spicy chicken stock with lovage and flint, lot of flint. Less intense on the palate, gentle and rounded, the wine has a more mineral and ripe character. Full-bodied with an appealing structure and nicely textured. There’s promise of finess too already. Score: 6+/7
Hollóvár – Olaszrizling: An appalling city gas nose with sulphit and flint and a chalky mineral undertone. Light-medium bodied wine with a nice structure. Very dry. No wine will divide people as much as this one. Score: 6+/7-
Somlói Apátsági Pince - Olaszrizling: Rich bouquet with an unusual Veggie soup with lovage on the nose and very pleasant apple-pear aromas. Firm on the palate, with the same Veggie soup with lovage! Boiled, spicy vegetarian notes with a mineral undertone. Very good one. Score: 6+/7-
Szent Ilona – Olaszrizling: Intense, lively floral nose but very simple on the palate. Score: 4
Kolonics – Olaszrizling: It’s very closed on the nose and it has this handicraft character with a large barrell element. On the palate salty-bitterness, interesting. Score: 5
To wrap up, it’ll be interesting to see how these wines will develop, especially Hollóvár. One thing is certain: the styles are more relevant here than terroir or the grape. On the other hand, there might as well be a Somló terroir, but it’s not yet the time to discuss this.