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Kosher Tokaji Dry Furmint – Tischler & Halpern

Kosher for Passover
This is a stunning dry Furmint, which is at the same time fresh, fruity, herbal, and spicy. This wine shows the crisp side of Furmint, and it is more full-bodied than most steel tank Furmints. It has a gorgeous texture—a bit oily, waxy, viscous, and dense—and a generous amount of alcohol (13.5 percent), which gives it body. Like the best dry Furmints from Tokaj, this wine has a lot of complexity happening in the glass, including plenty of lovely tropical fruit flavors and volcanic minerality. You’ll taste grapefruit, apricot, kiwi, quince, pineapple, melon, and lemon, as well as some floral aromas and even some peach compote at the end. This wine has the strong acidity that Tokaj is known for. And the nice long finish leaves you with a bit of saltiness, as well as ginger and pepper spiciness.

2019 was an excellent vintage with an early harvest for Tokaj’s dry wines. Grapes for this wine came from loess soil from the Lónyai and Bakonyi vineyards on Tokaj Hill in the village of Tarcal. The grapes were gently pressed, without being crushed or de-stemmed. It was then fermented for three weeks in stainless-steel tanks. Since this is a kosher wine, this was all done under religious supervision. Like most dry Tokaj Furmints, this one makes an excellent aperitif. We love it with spicy foods, such as Thai salads and Vietnamese stir fries. It’s also excellent with grilled fish, citrussy foods, and beef tacos. It’s a pretty versatile food-friendly wine.

This is an exceptional dry Furmint, whether you are seeking a kosher wine or just a great Furmint!

About Tokaj’s Jewish History:
The Tokaj wine region has a long history of kosher winemaking, and before World War Two the region had a substantial Jewish community. It played a vital role in the production, sale, and transport of wine from Tokaj to the rest of the world. Tokaj’s Jewish story began in the mid-1700s when Polish Jews began to settle in the region. In the early-19th century, Jews from Galicia (an area along today’s Polish/Ukrainian border) arrived. Many of them were followers of the Hasidic movement and by the beginning of the 20th century, Tokaj had arguably become the most important center of Hasidism in Europe west of the Ukraine. The Jews of the region contributed enormously to the fact that Tokaj wine remained widely recognized internationally for centuries. Jews or non-Jews, everyone living in the region loved the wine.

5,590 Ft

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In 1700 Tokaj developed one of the world’s earliest vineyard classification systems, and Tokaj is most famous for being the birthplace of Tokaji Aszú—one of the world’s oldest sweet wines.

Located in northeastern Hungary—which historically has been the crossroads of Central Europe—the region is framed by natural borders: the town of Tokaj in the southwest corner where the Bodrog and the Tisza rivers meet, the Bodrog river to the southeast, and the Zemplén hills to the northwest. The Tokaj region has 5,500 hectares of vineyards and 27 towns and villages. Wines from the different vineyards can all be quite different, and winemakers here love to experiment with single vineyard wines.

On top of its long and fascinating history, the Tokaj region has so much for wine-lover’s to discover. It is rich in a variety of volcanic soils; has a microclimate ideal for bringing on noble rot (botrytis); grows some really interesting indigenous grape varieties; and has a truly enchanting subterranean labyrinth of mould-covered cellars where the wines age. Though Tokaj is best known for its sweet Aszú wines, which are made from botrytized grapes, more than half of the wine it produces is dry.

Six official grape varieties grow in Tokaj. The superstars are the indigenous varieties Furmint and Hárslevelű, with Furmint being the high profile grape that tends to steal the show. Other varieties grown in smaller quantities are Sárga Muskotály, Kövérszölö, Zéta (a crossing of Furmint and Bouvier), and Kabar (a crossing of Hárslevelű and Bouvier). All of these wines are being increasingly made in dry styles, which winemakers are embracing because they are more marketable.

But it’s the sweet wines which make the region so unlike any other. They rely on the development of botrytis, which comes with the right weather conditions. The harvest here is a long, labor-intensive process which starts with the dry wine harvests, and continues with the harvesting of the botrytized grapes, which is done by hand.

In addition to Aszú (which is made with botryized grapes which are selectively harvested by hand, one berry at a time), other styles include late harvest wines, sweet and dry versions of Szamorodni (made with whole clusters of grapes containing a mixture of both botrytized and healthy grapes), Forditás (made from the second pressing after Aszú is made), Máslás (made from the second pressing after Aszú is made), and Eszencia (made from the free-run juice of Aszú berries, so thick and concentrated that it only reaches about four percent alcohol).

Tischler & Halpern make Kosher wines from grapes grown at the Disznókő Estate, and produced by the winemakers at Disznókő in a separate area in the winery designated for making kosher wines. This is done under the religious supervision of rav Daniel Hanan, an Israeli rabbi approved by the Israeli Beth Din Tzedek.

The wine is kosher for Passover. Péter Tordai, owner of Tischler & Halpern, has long been fascinated by kosher wine and (with the help of Israeli rabbis) has been making it in the Tokaj region for 18 years. He saw that there was a need for kosher wine, and that Tokaj would be an ideal place to produce a range of kosher wines—dry, semi-sweet, and sweet versions—in a region which has deep kosher winemaking traditions, which have almost disappeared. During kosher wine production, there are ancient rules which must be followed, and the winemaking process must be carried out by observant Jews. The name Tischler & Halpern pays tribute to the family names of Tordai and his wife. Their daughter has also joined the family business, helping with sales.

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