Szamorodni, a style of Hungarian white wine made from partially botrytised grapes, is a must try!
Pronounced Sam-oh-rod-nee, it takes its name from the Polish word 'samorodno' meaning 'as it comes'. It is made from whole bunches that combine the treasured noble rot grapes and the healthy ones. Whereas Tokaji Aszú is made by selecting individual grapes affected by Noble Rot and thus an intensely sweet, full and powerful wine, Tokaji Szamorodni combines those rich characteristics with the freshness and vitality of dry wines.
The style is generally made from the Tokaj region's two most important grape varieties: Furmint (dominant) and Hárslevelű. Furmint is known for lending the wines good acidity, depth and rich notes of orchard apples and stone fruits. Hárslevelű can add honey, floral notes and a round, oily texture to the wine. Sweet Szamorodni has at least 50g/litre of sugar and is aged for two years before being released to market, with at least one of those years in barrel.
A dry version of Szamorodni also exists, which is still a mix of botrytis and healthy grapes but is fermented to dryness under a layer of yeast (called flor) in much the same way as Sherry. Breeding is essential. Years in the barrel are needed for the wine to develop its specific aromas of honey, green walnut, chamomile and apple peel. Dry Szamorodni can have a maximum of 9g/l of residual sugar. Also, it is the only dry wine in the world to be made from botrytised grapes.
Our favourite sweet Szamorodni: the cuvée Öreg Király Dűlő Szamorodni 2017 from Barta Estate. Aged for 12 months in oak, then 2 more years in the bottle. Delightful aromas of citrus, apricot and propolis, followed by elegance in the palate with the creaminess and oiliness of avocado. Furmint 100%; residual sugar: 133 g/l; total acidity: 7,07 g/l; alcohol: 12,11%. Around €30 for a 50cl bottle (estate price).
Our favourite dry Szamorodni: the cuvée Tokaj Szamorodni sec 2007 from Samuel Tinon. The attack is powerful, the palate is rich and complex with a range of almond, walnut, hazelnut, quince and fig notes. The finish, very long, ends on a nice bitterness. Furmint 90%, Hárslevelű 10%. Around €32 for a 50cl bottle (online price).