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The Tornai winery, or Tornai Pincészet to address its full name, is the largest player in the tiny yet historically intriguing Somlò appellation of Hungary’s northwest. Somlò is a volcanic hill, covered almost entirely in vineyards and has been enticing wine-drinkers for centuries thanks to its powerful, mineral-rich expressions of native white grape varieties. The soils here are poor, often entirely made of basalt and volcanic rock which means that water is left to drain freely forcing the vines to dig deep for water and nutrients, producing, when successful, grapes of real concentration. Situated between a modest 150 - 350m above sea level, Tornai’s vineyards here benefit from a host of natural influences combining for some classy growing conditions. Sheltered by hills on all sides, Tornai’s sites on the Somlò hill are also graced by large shifts in temperature from day to night which allow the grapes a long ripening season on the vine. An accumulation of some seriously powerful citrus and stone fruit flavours combine with an unmistakable mineral character that is sustained throughout their wines.

It is fabled that Queen Victoria herself enjoyed the wines of Somlò that were once trusted for their pharmaceutical properties due to the mysterious volcanic nature of their origins. Today, though, Tornai’s exquisite white wines have a price tag that is far from reserved for royals, with their hallmark Furmint ‘F’ wine easily one of the best value whites we have come across. You’d be forgiven for thinking the wine heralded from one of France’s famous mineral appellations with the steely backbone and citrus palate. The Tornai winery is firmly family-run, today as it was in 1946 when it was founded. They cultivate vines on 60 hectares across Somlò, including in the Apastagi area which is considered the best for quality grapes. If you’re a fan of Hungarian wines already, then you’re doing well in your explorations and if this is your introduction, welcome and enjoy!

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