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Hárslevelű

Hárslevelű is a richly-flavoured grape variety from Hungary. It is best known for its supporting role in sweet Tokaji wines (where the better-known Furmint variety rules), but is sometimes made as a varietal wine, in both dry and sweet styles. Hárslevelű often displays honeyed, smoky characters and its name, which means "linden leaf" in Hungarian, refers to the linden-like aromas that the wine takes on as it ages.

Together with Furmint, Hárslevelű is one of Tokaj's most planted varieties, and the two take up around 90 percent of the region's vineyard. In Tokaj, a warm mesoclimate and the convergence of two rivers creates humidity, which in turn encourages the development of botrytis cinerea. Hárslevelű's loose bunches and thin skins make it susceptible to this noble rot, which concentrates the already high sugars in the grapes and leads to the production of Tokaj's famous Aszú wines. As part of the Tokaji blend, Hárslevelű adds flavours that are often described as spicy or smoky, usually with honey pollen and elderflower aromas

Hárslevelű can also be vinified dry, making a more herbaceous, full bodied style of wine. This is a more modern approach to the grape, and vignerons have been known to experiment with barrel maturation and wines aged using flor (in the style of Sherry or Jura's Vin Jaune).

While Tokaji is undoubtedly the variety's spiritual home, there are plantings across Hungary, and there is a relatively high proportion of Hárslevelű in Somló (although the region is so tiny that the actual volumes are small). Outside Hungary, Hárslevelű is grown in Germany, Slovakia and a little in South Africa.
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