I have already written about Eger and the joys of making Bull’s Blood and one of my favourites (Gróf Butler Nagy-Eged 2008) on earlier occasions. This is about another choice of mine, a grand superior, which is not necessarily difficult to get your hands on: St. Andrea Bikavér, Merengő (Daydreamer) Grand Superior 2016.
Eger is a rather cool wine region on the north-east part of Hungary, at the foothills of the volcanic Bükk Mountains with a varied and complex soil. That is exemplified in the wines’ marked acidity, high levels of tannins, and juicy fruit from the long and cool ripening season. Its wines for aging and cellaring. Luckily, the volcanic rhyolite tuff is ideal for establishing cellar systems. Until the Ottomans came to Hungary, white wine production was dominant here, but now it is more renowned for its red wines. Even in the UK, people easily recall the mass- produced, rustic and tannic table wines of state-controlled co-ops of the 1970’s and 80’s. Things changed a lot since then.
Making wine using a number of grape varieties, indigenous and other, and blends have always been normal around here. Bull’s Blood is a blend after all. To reignite the region, new rules were re-established by the Society of Grape and Vine Growers of Eger in 1993, that later lead to form a commune system abiding by these guidelines. A brand-new white blend, called Egri Csillag, (The Star of Eger) was brought to life in 2010, parallel to the red blends. (The Star of Eger refers to a popular book, The Stars of Eger, that is about the successful defenders of the Fortress of Eger against the Ottoman aggressors.)
Back to our wine on hand, that comes from the family-owned, multi-award- winning St. Andrea Winery. The local, father-and-son team produces wines of remarkable quality from their 45 hectares of vineyards that can reflect the true potential of their region. The 'Superior' designation is in force since 2002, which demands lower yields and the use of five varieties, with emphasis on the Kékfrankos (Blaufrankish).
This one is made from Kékfrankos (Blaufrankish), Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Pinot Noir, aged 17 months in new oak, resulting sweet and juicy blackberry fruit, with deliciously integrated oak, very fine and ripe tannins, balanced out with the signature fresh acidity. An outstanding and plush wine with good structure. It is very well-made, thoroughly enjoyable Bull’s Blood in the sea of commercial and badly executed wines from this region. My only remark or feeling is that it does leave me with the impression of being very international in style. It is hard to pinpoint the ‘traditional’, local nuances and the expression of the unique terroir. Nonetheless, it is still worth trying!
Photographs by The Tannin Addict.