At the start of the year, I wrote about some of the wine trends for a brave new year. One trend was exploring wine from areas that are from lesser known yet still traditional such as Croatia, Hungary and Bulgaria and Georgia.
On a trip to Budapest, our friends, Alex and Monica brought us a wonderful gift: a bottle of 2013 Tóth Ferenc Egri Bikavér Superior.
Also known as “Bull’s Blood”, Egri Bikavér is a very special blended red wine. Hand harvested, and individually aged twenty-five months before the initial blend, this wine boasts velvety tannins, plum and violet essences; sweet spice and bright cherry flavors. This 2013 Tóth Ferenc vintage took gold at Mindus Vini 2016, silver at Finger Lakes 2016, and gold at 12th Annual Bayer Wine Competition.
Hungarian folklore chronicles that in 1552, the fortress of Eger was under attack, with those defending it badly outnumbered. For courage, and to strengthen themselves, they drank copious amounts of local red wine, spilling it all over themselves as they guzzled. When they launched their counterattack, their foes saw the men running towards them with red liquid all down their chests ~ they believed the locals had been drinking bull’s blood, and in terror they turned and fled (who wouldn’t?). Hence the name Bull’s Blood has stayed with Hungarian wine ever since.
Like many wines in France, Italy and Spain, Egri Bikavér comes from a geographically protected region of origin. Common to all wine regions, this indicates that the area where grapes are grown has a defining influence on the style, quality and flavor of the wine.
Egri Bikavér is a blend of different base wines. The base wines themselves are aged separately in barrels for a minimum of six months, then blended and bottled where they age for an additional six months.
Grape varieties used:
• Pinot Noir
• Cabernet Franc
• Cabernet Sauvignon
Kékfrankos (Blaufränkisch) ~ is the Hungarian name for the black grape that produces wine with a spice vibe, adding to the essences of blueberry, black pepper and anise. The tannins are relatively smooth and colors are very deep.
Kardarka ~ The original and once favored varietal for Bull’s Blood, it is being replaced by Kékfrankos (Blau) which ripens early and is very resistant to grey rot. If kept in small quantities, and with careful crop management, it produces fuller, tannic wines with essences of sweet spice and black fruit.
• Ox tongue (um….maybe not)
• Fish with mushrooms, tomato, veal stock reduction
• Roast lamb with garlic and rosemary
• Goat cheese, mild Brie and Camembert
It’s been said that some of the best things in life are free. And a wonderful gift of wine, especially from friends who’ve visited a distant land, makes that even more true.