Winemakers of the two wine regions close ranks to reposition the traditional Hungarian brand. The annual Eger-Szekszárd Bikavér Duel is to take place on 3 March in Budapest. The event offers a chance for the general public to acquaint themselves with the ideas of the winemakers on the present and future of Bikavér.
Global trends clearly indicate that international varieties have fallen out of favour with wine lovers all over the world. Consumers’ interest is no longer piqued by Cabernets or Chardonnays. However there is a growing demand for little known indigenous varieties and geographically specific wines. This trend definitely favours Bikavér a red blend that can only be produced in Eger and Szekszárd and its principal element is Kékfrankos a variety that is little known outside Central Europe.
The past, present and future of Bikavér
In the 19th century the name Bikavér did not refer to a specific product. Instead it was used to describe the darker red colour of wines a result of elongated maceration. Back then different varieties grown together in one same plot were not harvested or vinified separately. It was only after the phylloxera blight that individual varieties were planted separately and the corresponding changes in vinification translated into improved quality. However the conversion to mass production during the communist era caused almost irreparable damages and cast a long shadow. The lessons of history have prompted the two wine regions to devise and implement AOC regulations even stricter than the ones stipulated by the current national wine law. This is the only way to restore the reputation of Bikavér to its former glory.
Bikavér from Eger and Szekszárd share just as many similarities as they exhibit differencies. In order to establish a united image it was essential to stipulate that the wines’ principal variety has to be Kékfrankos and the viticultural and vinification practices need to be regulated in order to attain the highest possible standards. However the wide range of permitted varieties and the available options in winemaking to express individual styles also mean that Bikavér from both regions will show a delightful variation. Starting from last year new regulations stipulate that the total share of Kékfrankos and Kadarka in the final blend cannot be less than 50% in Szekszárd. Eger winemakers are considering a similar move with the effect of increasing the percentage of traditional Carpathian varieties. Regular consultation and continuous cooperation is the key and the guarantee to building a new prestige for Bikavér.
Bikavér Duel and Bikavér Weeks
This is the fifth consecutive year of the Eger-Szekszárd Bikavér Duel. This is an annual event to showcase and promote our dual brand. On 3 March in the ballroom of the Corinthia Hotel in Budapest close to 30 wineries will present the best Bikavér wines selected from both regions by an expert panel through blind tasting.
However this year ther will be more than just one night dedicated to Bikavér. The Bikavér Weeks in March will offer numerous events to taste our wines and to learn about them. Fine dining restaurants will highlight Bikavér on their wine lists and offer them by the glass. Tastings and various events at the participating wineries and wine bars all provide great opportunities to immerse yourself in the world of Bikavér.
Character: a Kékfrankos-based blend with complex, spicy and fruity aromas and without overbearing tannins. A blend of at least four varieties with each variety representing at least 5%, while Kékfrankos must represent 30-50%.
Varieties: Bíbor Kadarka (classicus only), Blauburger, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Kadarka, Kékfrankos, Menoire, Merlot, Portugieser, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Turán, Zweigelt
Grand Superior Bikavér
Character: based on Kékfrankos and Kadarka this is a blend made up of at least four varieties. It shows aromas of fruits and the typical notes of barrel aging. An elegant wine supported by a firm but balanced acidity.
Varieties: at least 45% Kékfrankos, at least 5% Kadarka, max. 40% Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, at most 10% Alibernet, Bíbor Kadarka, Blauburger, Malbec, Menoire, Mészikadar, Pinot Noir, Portugieser, Sagrantino, Tannat, Turán, Virághegyi, Zweigelt
Photos by Viktor Korsós