Dry / Sweet: Dry
Acidity: Medium to high
Age: Generally drink while young and fresh, but the best wines can age well.
Aka: Budai Féher, Feuille de Tilleul, Frunaza de Tei, Harslevleue, Harzevelu, Lindenblättrige, Lipolist and Lipovina.
Hárslevelü (HARSH-leh-veh-LOO) is a native Hungarian grape variety of considerable quality. Recent genetic analysis suggests that its parents were Furmint and a sibling of an obscure variety called Plantscher. The name Hárslevelü means “Linden Leaf” as the leaf of the Linden tree (another name for the Lime tree) closely resembles the leaves of the vine, and the aromatics of the grape also reflect the fragrance of the Linden tree blossom.
It is a late ripening grape and requires warm climatic conditions. It is also high yielding and therefore needs good vineyard management to be at its best. Hárslevelü is the second most widely planted grape variety in Hungary and is famous as one of the grapes used in the production of Tokaji – a Hungarian speciality and one of the world’s greatest sweet wines – where it is added to Furmint, and sometimes also Muscat, to bring an aromatic fragrance and richness to the blend.
Hárslevelü is also capable of making excellent dry varietal wines. These varietal wines are quite dense and full bodied, with a very appealing texture and display an intense aromatic quality. Despite their dense structure they can be quite bright, with medium to high levels of acidity, making them very good food wines. You can expect aromas of lime tree blossom, elderflower, apple and honey, followed by citrus and stone fruit flavors of lemon, gooseberry, peach and pineapple, together with lychee and spice (ginger), while many can also display a pronounced mineral quality.
Some of these wines are oak aged and when yields are kept low, they can be well structured and very complex. Sometimes they are off-dry, containing a small amount of residual sugar to balance their high acidity. Hárslevelü is also used to produce very good quality sweet (Dessert) wines. Although availability of varietal wines is limited, they are worth seeking out, as Hárslevelü is a grape with great character.
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