Attila Homonna building his winery in June 2005.
I’m on my way to Tokaj to get updated on the latest vintage (and an overdose of residual sugar). In my habit of tuning up my palate to upcoming tasting I opened this bottle from microproducer Attila Homonna. He’s a mildly crazy fellow in his early 30s who started a 1-hectare estate out of the blue in 2002. The first wine he ever made, the Furmint Ordinarium 2002, was one of heck of a mind-blowing late-harvest Furmint that gave Zind-Humbrecht and Marcel Deiss a good run for their money. (I remember roaming around Vinexpo 2005 giving people a taste of the stuff and trying to spread the word, including to a politely uninterested Steven Spurrier).
Homonna’s breakthrough came in 2005 when his high-perched, ungrafted 80-year-old vines in the vineyard of Határi produced arguably the best dry wine of the vintage in Tokaj. Now Homonna is known to the cognoscenti and can charge 25€ for a bottle.
This 2006 Határi is very impressive in that it comes from a very difficult vintage. Excessive summer heat produced unbalanced dry Furmints with high alcohol and burnt fruit. The high elevation of Határi was no remedy. But Homonna judiciously picked early and made a wine that is a gem of vibrancy and mineral structure. It needs airing though, being dominated upon opening by dusty-varnishy oak of not very high quality (a recurrent problem in Hungarian white wines, that I attribute to poorly seasoned oak). In fact it’s easy to dismiss the wine as unbalanced and drying on the palate. Decant in a tall carafe and chill for 5–6 hours and you’ll be astonished by the change: a core of appetizing tangerine fruit, Furmint’s iron-cast acidic structure, a pure crystalline minerality, length, length, depth, solidity. It’s not a perfect wine in terms of winemaking but the stellar quality of the terroir is strongly shining through. The wine easily surpassed a 2006 Furmint from regional star István Szepsy that I opened alongside.