Friday, February 22, 2008

A first taste of Bull's Blood

In my early days of learning about wine, I used to frequent Trader Joe's wine shop at Union Square. I was initially wowed by the low price tags on most of their selections. (Although looking back, I realized I would have purchased better quality of wines by spending not much more at either Astor Wines or Wine Warehouse). It was at Trader Joe's where I picked up this bottle of 2003 Egervin Egri Bikavér which I have much forgotten until recently.

The Egri Bikavér(Bull's Blood of Eger) is Hungary's most famous red wine. It is produced in the wine region around the town of Eger. Egri Bikavér has always been a wine of the field blends with Kadarka or Kékfrankos as the anchoring varietal. However, since 1997, straighter DHC(Districtus Hungariucus Controllatus) regulation was put in place stating that Egri Bikavér must contain at least three of the following varieties:

Kadarka, Kékfrankos(Blaufränkisch), Kékoportó(Blauer Portugieser), Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Menoire (known as Kékmedoc, or Médoc Noir before), Pinot Noir, Syrah, and the modern Austrian hybrids, Blauburger and Zweigelt.

In 2004, Egri Bikavér Superior (a higher cuvée) was also introduced. In this case, 4 out of the 11 recommanded varieties must be included. Currently, there are more than 40 producers in Hungary bottling Egri Bikavér. Unfortunately, retail exposure of this wine is still very limited in the U.S.

2003 Egervin Egri Bikavér is a blend of Kékfrankos, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zweigelt. It comes with a real cork and carries a 12.9% ABV. At 2006, It was $5.99 at Trader Joe's. Importer: Monsieur Henri Wine Co., New Orleans.

Another interesting fact about this bottle worth noting. It actually comes with the following instruction at the back label: "To appreciate Egri Bikavér at the best, open at least one hour before drinking and serve at room temperature". According to Egervin's website, room temperature means 16-18°C.

Tasting notes:
Color: Clear Ruby.

Nose: Yielding nothing upon opening. After 1 hour (as per instruction), aroma of cherry pie started to emerge. Notes of oak peeks out as wine opens more. There is also a hint of green leaves in the background.

Palate: Slightly unbalanced. Not much fruit. Flavor of tart or unriped cherry. Not much structure or tannins. It is actually fairly one dimensional.

Body: Light (lighter than most Beaujolais).

Finish: Medium at best. Notes of cherry fruit but not much else. As wine warms, the finish turns a bit alcoholic.

Clearly this bottle is not the best example of the best known wine from Hungary. Egri Bikavé can be a fun wine. For example, Bert at Wineterroirs gave a thumbs-up to a 2003 St Andrea Egri Bikaver Superior here. Unfortunately, Bert's example is not imported to the U.S. I must re-taste Egri Bikavé from other producers in the future to give this wine a better evaluation.

If you can recommend a good Egri Bikavé, please let me know.


Anonymous said...

Try bulls blood from Palotai Vineyard they are located in the umpqua valley of Oregon and probably won't fond it at trader joes but they ship their wine. The winemaker was from Hungary and has brouht those traditions here. it's one of the best Bikavers i've had!

Benito said...

Photo credit... me!