For real – Homonna Birtok Válogatás 2017

Favourable experiences with the vintage in Tokaj and more specifically with the 2017 Homonna Furmint-Hárslevelű piqued my curiosity and I was eager to find out what the more affordable little brother of the single vineyard bottlings was like. It’s never a good idea to make sweeping generalizations based on just one wine, or even worse, on just one bottle but whenever I fall into this trap I take heart from the fact that wine professionals base their judgements on a tablespoon of wine not even swallowed. Anyway, each time I returned to this wine my belief got firmer that this is the real Tokaj furmint. And I’m not going to take that back just because it is not even pure furmint.

This is the Tokaj dry that I’ve been sizing up for 15 years and I’m still not enamoured with. In the meantime observer and observed have both moved on and in this case the distance has shrunk. Typicity has become a hub of my wine understanding and the ’17 Birtok Válogatás displays typicity in spades. Typicity is not to be confused with average and I’m afraid it’s highly subjective notion. To me this wine is a quality example and a pure expression of the character that is generated by the combination of the variety and the terroir. It’s not weighed down by faults or overthinking in the cellar. And the feelings garnered by the recognition of quality and typicity have compensated for the lack of beauty or sheer deliciousness.

The nose is rather subdued, some signs of reduction, faintly vegetal, on day 3 notes of bee wax, pears and apricots. Big-boned, structured, dense, somewhat tannic and bitter. A barbarian. It’s well equipped for a long journey. (For my series on aged whites I received two bottles of Határi Furmint. That’s quite a handsome gift but not enough to draw conclusions. As it happened, one of them was an energetic, excellent wine (2008), while the other was a dessicated, mean old beast (2007). Despite the inconclusive outcome I have evidence now that youthful ten-year-old Tokaj drys do exist.)

I consider this wine essential to my understanding of Tokaj drys. It’s the perfect example of what this rather rustic variety (and its loyal sidekick) is capable of without any attempts to adorn it. I can’t say that I was enamoured with the result but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

6-7 points and 23 euros.