Sipon can be said to be the soul grape variety of the vineyards of North-eastern Slovenia in the region of Podravje. Sipon is a white wine producing wine which is more famously referred to as Furmint. Sipon or Furmint is a blanc grape variety largely grown in the Tokaj-Hegyalja region of Hungary.
These grapes are the principal varietal used for making Dry wines in this region. Other places where this varietal is grown are Austria, Croatia, Romania and some of the republics of Soviet Union.
Sipon constitutes 70% of the wine grown in the Tojak Vineyards and has also made a name for itself in the Somlo wine region.
Being polyonymous Sipon is known by different names in different regions some of them being Gelber Furmint, Mosler or Zapfner in Austria, Edler Weisser in Germany, Mislovai and Bijeli in Yugoslavia and Moslavac in Croatia.
Other Synonyms for this variety include Alte Sestrebe, Budai Goher, Csapfner, Demjen, Holyagos Furmint, Posipon, Toca Tokai, Zilavka etc.
The wines produced from Sipon have a piercingly high acidic level, which is one of the main reasons for its extraordinary aging ability.
History of Sipon Grape
There are many theories and legends related to the origin of Sipon or Furmint. One of them being, that during the 13th century King Be̒la IV wanted to resuscitate the Vineyards of Hungary that were destroyed during the Mongolian invasion.
For this purpose he sent out invitations to people with knowledge of Viticulture. Many heeded to his request and immigrated to Hungary bringing along with them new grape varieties one of which was Furmint.
Another theory states that this grape might have been introduced by Italian evangelists during the reign of King Stephen II of Hungary. Legend has it that when the French occupied Slovenia in 1809 they tasted Furmint for the first time.
They enjoyed the wine so much that they exclaimed with delight saying “C’est si bon!” (It is good) and it is from here that the name Sipon was derived.
The name Furmint is said to have been taken from a word Forment which was a nickname given to this variety by an Italian soldier and was originally taken from the word Fromento which meant wheat (owing to the wheat coloured hue of the wine).
Viticulture and Wine making for Sipon grapes
Sipon is an early budding variety which ripens late in the season. This early budding nature is a little problematic as this makes the grapes susceptible to the spring frosts and Mildew.
The thick skinned berries help in the production of Botrytised sweet dessert wine. This variety requires warm bright weather and the presence of dry calcareous soil.
Sipon is drought resistant and can be easily grown even the absence of proper irrigation facilities. Vinification of Sipon or Furmint can be done in two different styles.
They are either fermented in stainless steel containers with little or no oak ageing in which case they must be consumed young (i.e. within the 1st to 3rd year of their production), or they can be allowed to age for longer periods which leads to the enhancing of flavours in the wine giving them a graceful undertone. The acidity levels in the wine so produced ranges from around 12% to 13%.
Characteristics of the Sipon Grapes
The corporeal characteristics include circular or pentagonal leaves with 5 lobes. The grape clusters are usually compact and large in size and generally cylindrical in shape. They are often shouldered with wings.
The berries are thick skinned with a greenish yellow hue and oval shape with a neutral taste. The dry wine made from Sipon is characterized by a smoky and pear and lime like aroma.
The dessert wines are a little sweeter on the palate as they are Botrytised by noble rot. These wines have the sweet and delicate aromas of apricot, blood oranges and barley sugar.
The more aged versions of the dessert wine tend to develop a more complex, rich and spicy flavour of cinnamon, tea, tobacco or even chocolate.
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