Charleston Style and Design

FALL 2015

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L E I S U R E W I N E 172 CSD 3 THREE FACES OF FURMINT there's more to this grape than meets the eye BY ROB E RT CALVE RT Nobody quite knows where the Furmint grape originated. A white varietal, it is cultivated today under various names in eastern parts of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire— especially in Hungary near the town of Tokaj, about 120 miles northeast of Budapest (almost to Slovakia and Ukraine). But it is not native to Austro-Hungary. DNA sleuths say Furmint is closely related to a grape known as Gouais blanc, which is found in France and is one of the parents of Chardonnay. According to grape geneti- cist Carole Meredith: "Furmint is either a parent or offspring of Gouais blanc. There is not yet any defnitive genetic evidence to prove which is the parent, but historic references to Gouais are older so it is more likely that Gouais is the parent of Furmint and not the other way around." 1 2 3 Sources say that King Béla IV may have brought Furmint to Hungary in the 13th century. It's a good story, but not neces- sarily a true story. We know for sure that Furmint has fourished around Tokaj since at least 1571. It is the region's predom- inant grape today, ahead of Synagogue photo by Pat Callahan 1

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