Somló (Shoam-low) is one of Hungary’s smallest appellations and once an underwater volcano in the Pannonian sea. Its slopes of ancient sea sediment, hardened lava, and basalt are home to some of Hungary’s steepest, most densely planted vineyards. There are over 1000 winemakers for just over 500 hectares. Béla Fekete is the oldest living winemaker in this appellation and has been carefully tending his 3.5 hectares since the 1970s. The combination of botrytis fermented dry, built in oxidation, high acidity and volcanic salt and smoke make this one of the iconic styles of Somló.
Juhfark (Sheep’s tail) is a distinctive, almost extinct white grape variety found almost exclusively in Somló. The clusters are long, tightly packed and curve a little at the end hence the Sheep’s tail moniker. Naturally very high in acidity, it’s also fairly neutral on its own and instead absorbs and communicates the volcanic terroir rather than pronounced fruit flavors. However, after a few years in bottle this wine really comes alive. According to Bay Area restaurateur Jeff Berlin, “it’s the ultimate yin and yang wine in that it is at once rich, opulent and elegant but has such prominent veins of volcanic ash and minerality running through it at the same time. Super sexy, both masculine and feminine, like a Caligulan feast in a glass.” Although Béla recommends drinking it with roasted wild fowl, Middle Eastern flavors like green olives, roasted red pepper and Za’atar are all amazing flavor combinations.