Juhfark, the old Hungarian variety whose name means 'sheep's tail' (referring to the shape of the bunches), is grown exclusively in northwest Hungary, where there were just 186ha in 2010, almost all in the Somló region north of Lake Balaton.
While it can produce elegant, ageworthy wines, it first needs time in barrel and bottle. But simply ageing the wine in barrels is not enough to tame the acidity if the fruit is picked too early.
Once opened, it benefits from aeration and should not be drunk too cold. Lesser examples tend to be astringent, with high acidity and little fruit flavour, but the best are powerful and fresh with a marked mineral quality.
Juhfark is particularly successful on granite soils; grown on calcareous sites, the wines tend to be lighter and more aromatic. Juhfark is not easy to find outside Hungary but good examples are made by Imre Györgykovács, Inhauser, Kreinbacher, Somlói Apátsági Pince and Tornai. Easier to find is a wine made from Somló fruit by Meinklang, a biodynamic producer based in Austria.
Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson MW, Julia Harding MW and José Vouillamoz; www.winegrapes.org
Translated by Nina Fan Feng / 冯帆
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