2012FeketeBelaJuhfark2012 Fekete Bela, Juhfark, Somlo, Hungary.
At 92 years old, and celebrating his 57th harvest, “Uncle Bela” Fekete Bela is the grand old man of the volcano, hand crafting white wines from this basalt and mineral rich soils in the Fehervari (Cru) zone of the Somlo region of Hungary. Bela only does whites, Furmint, Harslevelu, Olaszrizling and this rare, only found in Hungary, Juhfark which is a gorgeous mineral driven terroir influenced white with bright detail and a brisk dry fresh/fleshy character that is slightly unexpected from a wine that is aged two years in cask before bottling and resting another year in bottle before release, but such is the greatest of Fekete Bela wines, they are lovely/lively and with depth and balance, achieved by listening to his vines and applying his vast experience and passion into making them glorious wine. He dry farms his grapes and uses no chemicals, all of his wines are naturally fermented with absolutely no additions in the cellar, in fact local traditions and winemaking here in the mound of an ancient volcano date back to 1093, though less commercial winemaking most likely was taking place here long before that, and tradition, in fact law was very strict concerning production and quality, back in 1752 it was written into the local law that no addition of even water was allowed, punishable by public lashings! So “Uncle Bela” is very careful to keep yields up in the vineyards to allow for careful harvests that gives more acidity to his grapes and less sugars, this seems very different to modern thought, but his wines are brilliant and stylish with layers of crisp flavors that are enhanced, not burdened by the extended time in 1200L Hungarian oak casks, similar to the Rieslings of Germany that are raised in Stuckfass. The 2012 Juhfark, looks set to be the second to last harvest for the rumored to be retiring Bela, is a beauty, more vibrant than the 2011 I last tasted, and with wonderful precision as well as subtle density and extract, it was left on the lees without batonage and the finesse shows here, allowing a rich mouth feel, but vital and vigorous.The nose is Riesling like, but showing it’s volcanic spiciness along with fresh citrus, tropical notes and tangy stone fruits, this iron/steel white feels light to medium bodied and is amazingly dynamic for it’s age, very youthful, as well as having a hint of chalk/stones, bitter herbs, white cherry, kiwi/mango, a hint of almond, delicate florals and tart lemon/lime. This is a white wine of inner energy and class, unique and with a tense of history and place, imported by Blue Danube Wine Company, the wines of Fekete Bela should be cherished while we can, drink this Juhfark over the next 3 to 5 years.
($25 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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