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2019 Fekete Pince Juhfark

Availability:
Low stock
Original price $65.00 - Original price $65.00
Original price
$65.00
$65.00 - $65.00
Current price $65.00

Region: Somlo, Hungary

Grape: Juhfark

Culinary Suggestions: Viet/Thai Food, Salt & Pepper Calamari, Soft Cheeses, Tamarind Prawns

Practices: Sustainable


About

I have had Somló wines on my mind for 21 years; I first tasted two bottles of it's wines at a home in Bronte in 2001, the memory is indelibly printed in my mind. Never had I tasted wines with such intense minerality (saltiness, sapidity) One of the wines was from the old master Bela Fekete and so I am very happy to have found a small amount to offer you here. These are rare and idiosyncratic wines that are genius at the table.

Somló (Shoam-low) is Hungary’s smallest appellation and once an underwater volcano. Now dormant, its slopes of ancient sea sediment, hardened lava, and basalt are home to some of Hungary’s steepest, most densely planted vineyards. Driving up to Somló from Lake Balaton, it’s like seeing an island rise up from the ocean’s horizon — nothing else around survived the retreating ocean. The oldest writings mentioning the wine of Somló date back to 1093 and viticulture all the way back to the Romans.

Because the privatization of Hungary’s wine industry didn’t occur until after 1989, when the Soviet’s communist regime ended, many contemporary consumers assume Hungary is a “new” winemaking frontier. That couldn’t be further from the truth, especially in Somló: Wine documentation, as well as the crumbling remains of a castle at the summit of the hill, dates back nearly 1,000 years here. Even kings and queens of yore revered Somlói wines, and they took them seriously, too.

Known as “The Grand Old Man of Somló,” Béla Fekete is a wine legend who spent five decades turning indigenous grapes from an extinct volcano into thought-provoking bottles with endless depth and aging potential. Every enchanting wine he crafted spoke to the mysticism swirling about the microscopic Hungarian appellation that is Somló, but as of the 2013 vintage, this wizened nonagenarian hung up his boots. That said, he’s hardly left: To this day, you’ll still find him monitoring harvest and guiding his successors in the cellar, all while living in a cottage surrounded by his former 3.5 hectares of vines. Gábor Riesz and his family are the current owners, taking over the winery from ‘Uncle Béla’ in 2014 and continue the legacy of his exceptional wines.

It’s hard to describe the singular taste of Fekete wines, mainly because (1) the ancient volcanic soils of Somló lend so much character to the wine and (2) the wine is raised unlike any other: brief skin contact, one year in 500-liter Hungarian oak casks, two in stainless steel, and another in bottle before release. The result is a spectacular, if not jolting sensory experience—like a jet of salty, acidic volcanic spring water followed by an avalanche of pulverized basalt rock. For those seeking a wine dominated by terroir, this is the be-all and end-all place to be.


VINES & WINEMAKING

The soils here are rich in basalt and most of the vines sit at high altitudes with southeast sun exposure. Fekete’s 3.5 hectares are farmed without any “manicuring,” irrigation, or chemicals, and are sorted/harvested by hand. In the winery, the norm is two hours of skin contact before a spontaneous fermentation in 500-liter Hungarian oak casks followed by 12 months of aging. The wine was then transferred into stainless steel where it aged for an additional 24 months. Finally, after three years in total, the wine was bottled—but not released to the public until the following year!

These are very complex, slightly oxidative high extract dry white wines, which balance the high minerality of Somló and acidity of the different varieties. - Importer Note


Tasting Notes

I tried the wines of Fekete many years back, and it’s great to see they are now imported. My nipples explode with delight! From Somló hill, an extinct volcano.

Golden colour. Yellow fruit, a little nutty, with a subtle spice, aniseed and floral top note. It’s has richness, but it’s kind of light too; a wine of contrasts. Distinctly saline with a firm core of ultra ‘mineral’ acidity through its nuts, sour apple cider and peach, a discreet fresh pineapple thing too. It’s chalky and a little dusty, and has a long dry briny finish. Such wonderful texture here. Kind of hard to rate in a way, but I really like it. 

94 points - Gary Walsh, The Wine Front August 2023

Drink: 2023 - 2029+


The region’s signature grape variety is Juhfark, and Somló is the only place where this white grape – named after the sheep-tail shape of the bunch – is grown in meaningful quantities. Uprooted by the communists because it is disease-prone and difficult, it has become synonymous with Somló this century. Around the dormant volcano you will taste it in a variety of styles. Local winemakers have mixed feelings about the variety. This is because Juhfark requires four times the work of other varieties. “Juhfark is hard work, but if you work hard, your wine is good. It has fine acidity and a special feeling.”

Juhfark is a distinctive white grape variety found almost exclusively in Somló. The clusters are long, tightly packed and curve a little at the end hence the sheep’s tail moniker. Naturally very high in acidity, it’s also fairly neutral on its own and instead absorbs and shows fidelity to the mineral spring water that flows from inside the extinct volcano. With only 4 hours of skin maceration, it’s then fermented in 1000L Hungarian Oak barrels followed by 10 months on the lees in the same vessels. It’s then moved to 500 and 1500 liter tanks for reductive aging for a minimum of two years before bottling. No racking and no stirring. It’s the ultimate yin and yang wine in that it is at once rich, opulent and elegant but has such prominent veins of volcanic ash and minerality running through it at the same time. Like a Caligulan feast in a glass. For those seeking cool climate intensely volcanic whites, this is a benchmark. - Importer Note