Having accomplished my studies and internship in Oenolgy in Hungary I am more than happy to give this insight of the country’s history and winemaking to all the readers of LoveEast magazine.
Hungary, in fact, was in the front line of the wine producing countries in Europe for thousands of years, but due to the aggressive assault of phylloxera (a bug from America) in the 1880’s, two world wars, and forty years of communist collectivization its fame gradually faded. Nowadays among the 22 regions probably the most famous is Tokaj for its finest sweets and dry whites (Furmint) and Eger for its red blend (Bikaver).
The country is situated in the northern border of the winemaking area in Europe, ideal for the production of quality white wines, although due to the unique microclimates and soil types, Hungary can produce a wide range of wines: from light fruity whites to full bodied reds and sweet wines.
In each of the wine region you can find the most famous international grape varieties (such as Merlot, Cabernet etc.) and dozens of local and unique ones which all have their own story connected to the regions.
The signature Hungarian red wine is undoubtedly the Bikavér from Eger aka Bull’s Blood. The legend narrates that the name Bull’s Blood comes from the siege of Castle Eger in 1552 by the Turkish army. After many days of fighting in the cold, the Hungarian soldiers, exhausted begged their superiors for something to quench their thirst. The captain of the fortress, István Dobó, opened the cellars, and generously served local wine to his soldiers. In their eagerness to drink, the dark red wine streamed down their faces all over their beards, moustaches and armour. The Turkish, who were attacking the castle, later saw the red stains on the faces and clothes of the Hungarians and, assuming they had drunk bull’s blood, attributed the defenders great strength.
Eger is situated about 86 miles northeast of Budapest and with its hilly terrain has optimal conditions to grow grapes in fact, scientists identified a 30 million-year-old vine grape fossil, among the modern-day vineyards.
The blend today is Eger’s flagship wine and, by regulation, it must be made of at least three grape varieties with a minimum of 50% of Kékfrankos and 2% of Kadarka.
Vinarius has recently started importing wines from Eger made by the Thummerer family that has a well deserved reputation all over the country. They were one of the first in the region to start focusing in quality instead of mass production, after the communist era. Now they’re cultivating 100 hectares of vineyards with international and Hungarian grape varieties on the hills of Nagy-Eged mountain in a 4200 m2 cellar carved into volcanic tuff.
Our selection of Bikavér includes the Classicus and Superior and in both cases you can expect a deep coloured, full bodied red wine with dark fruits and blueberry aromas with a touch of sweet spiciness and a nice acidity, with more ageing aromas and complexity for the Superior. So if you would like to feel the spirit of the bull on a misty day, stop by at Vinarius!