The name means Linden leaf (lime leaf) in Hungarian, and comes from the shape of the vine leaf's resemblance to the Linden leaf, as well as the aroma of the wine being similar to that of the Linden leaf.
It’s best known as the supporting grape used in the Tokaji sweet wines from Hungary, where it brings a richness and aromatic fragrance to these wines. It is also made as a varietal wine - both sweet and dry, as well as being a popular table grape.
In 2008, DNA testing revealed that Hárslevelü is a descendant of Furmint, the dominant grape used in Tokaji. It’s second parent is unknown.
Hungary is without a doubt the home of Hárslevelü. There's not much grown in South Africa - Lemberg makes a dry Hárslevelü from vines planted back in 1983. The grape is also grown in Germany and Slovakia.
Also known as:
Hárslevelü is also known as Lindenblattrige, Lipovina (Slovakia and Czech Republic), Feuille de Tilleul (France), Frunaza de Tei, Lipolist, Lipolist Biyali(Croatia); Lamb's Tail, Lime Leaf, Linden Leaf, White(Austria); Budai Fehér, Budai Goher, Harch Levelu, Hárslevele, Hárslevelu, Hársleveleue, Harst Levelyu, Hárzevelu, Hosszunyelü Féher, Kerekes, Kereklevelü, Tarpai(Hungary)
On the vine:
A late ripening vine, the loose bunches and thin skins make it susceptible to noble rot which concentrates the naturally occurring high sugar levels making it ideal for sweet wines. But it is also susceptible to drought, frost, powdery mildew and grey rot. It produces rich, highly aromatic grapes with bracing acidity.
In the bottle:
It is best known for the sweet Tokaji wines that show notes of spice, honey, smoke, lime leaf and lime blossom.
Hárslevelü is also vinified as a dry wine having notable texture that is more herbaceous and full bodied with notes of lime tree blossom, elderflower, apple, honey, citrus, stone fruit, lychee and gooseberry. Some of these wines can be oaked.
A modern style is to experiment with barrel maturation as well as ageing using flor, similar to Sherry from Spain and Vin Jaune from Jura in France.
Both the sweet and dry wines are capable of ageing. The dry wines are generally created to be consumed while young, but the best wines can age well.
A dry wine that is cloudy yellow in colour with a nose of floral jasmine, peach, ripe apple, pear, herbs, salty/minerality, electric lime acidity and richness that contributes to a full bodied.
I'm not going to lie, cheese is the first and only thing that comes to mind for both sweet and dry styles. After reading The Wine Bible, I learned that paprika is really popular and prevalent in Hungarian cuisine. So I'd envision a paprika chicken bake pairing well with Hárslevelü.
Find the Wine:
I picked this up at www.vinopronto.co.za - but the general rule will always be 'if you see a Testalonga, buy the Testalonga!'.
Other wines to try:
Lammershoek Die Harde Blaar 2017