How has the Eger wine region evolved over the last 15 years? How are traditions being integrated with new technologies? Where do Bikavér and Egri Csillag fit into the Hungarian and international wine markets? On 10 December 2015, for the first time since the St Andrea winery’s establishment, those experts who had the chance to taste some of the winery’s most outstanding wines from its fifteen-year history under the guidance of the winemaker, György Lőrincz, got some answers to these questions. Two Masters of Wine had also evaluated the wines as outstanding.
Fifteen years ago our top wines were made from Cabernet Franc, but then I realised that it was worth following Eger’s traditions, so I switched to Bikavér. I have never regretted my decision
György Lőrincz remarks about how his idea of top Eger wines has developed together with the wine region. His decision has since been confirmed by prominent Masters of wine, who have rediscovered Eger and its blends in recent years: not only does vintage after vintage of Merengő return from international wine competitions with trophies and gold medals, but an increasing number of renowned wine experts enthuse about Bikavérs they’ve previously written about, after tasting a lovely Eger blend.
György Lőrincz, who produces almost exclusively white and red blends (Egri Csillag and Egri Bikavér) in the Eger wine region, plays a prominent role in raising awareness and increasing recognition of the wine region. He is well-known for his uncompromising commitment to quality and his revival of the local traditions, and this can be verified, organoleptically as well, by anyone. Continuous renewal and development is also an important aspect for the winemaker whose award-winning wines can be tasted together with world-class dishes since March at the Budapest St Andrea Wine and Gourmet Bar, as according to Lőrincz, ‘we can draw the world’s attention to the quality and outstanding performance of Hungarian wines with the help of top-class gastronomy”.
There’s no cause for complaint either as regards the wines: the wines we tasted on 10 December had already been highly rated by Elizabeth Gabay MW and Rod Smith MW.
Tasting notes follow:
Blanc de noir 2009 (Pinot noir and Kékfrankos) I 85-86 points
Intense mousse with good distribution of small bubbles. On the nose citrus fruits, biscuit and yeast. On the palate, lovely creamy texture, lots of lemon, a little yeast and toast. Fresh with lively acidity and a medium finish. Still comes across as youthful.
Örökké 2013 I 89-90 points
Aromas of green apple, gooseberry, chalky minerality and touch of bitterness that enlivens the overall impression. On the palate, full-bodied, exciting and rounded. Silky texture, with flavours of white-fleshed fruit, ripe citrus fruits, pear and flowers dominating. An exciting spicy note also appears in the medium finish.
Örökké 2012 I 86-88 points
Complex aromas of peach, gooseberry, pear, a hint of aniseed and smoke, a little vanilla and a touch of overripeness. On the palate, full-bodied, with attractive acidity which increases towards the finish. Flavours similar to the aromas, but some citrus fruits complete the picture. Long finish with a little bitterness and a touch of tannin.
Örökké 2006 I 91-92 points
Beautifully mature on the nose, with a little honey, oil seeds (especially sunflower), dried fruits and a hint of yeast. On the palate, slightly more than medium-bodied, elegant acidity and perfectly balanced. Flavours reflect the aromas, complemented with a little propolis and some citrus. A textbook example of a great white wine; perfectly mature, elegant and with an endless finish. One to learn from!
Mária 2013 (Furmint & Chardonnay) I 90-92 points
Aromas of limestone, chalky minerality, vibrant citrus, it reminds me most of a good Chablis. Lively acidity, citrus and minerality on the palate, with Burgundian character, perhaps not so bright, but still great. Long and elegant.
Mária 2012 I 91-93 points
Already showing some maturity on the nose, with aromas of citrus, ripe apple and hazelnut. The palate is rich, mineral, with harmonious acidity, complex with ripe fruitiness and barrel spices.
Merengő Egri Bikavér Superior 2011 I 87-90 points
Aromas of red and black berry fruit, lovely range of spices, such as pepper and a little aniseed, and some sour cherry. Medium-bodied with attractive acidity and a firm structure. Flavours of black berries, lots of spice, with vibrant acidity. The alcohol is a little warming at the end, long finish. Exciting, but still very young!
Merengő Egri Bikavér Superior 2009 I 88-91 points
The nose is dominated by red berries with a little cocoa bean, Madagascan chocolate and sour cherry. The palate is medium-bodied with lovely acidity, red berry fruit and firm tannins.
Merengő Egri Bikavér Superior 2008 I 86-87 points
Very complex on the nose with cocoa beans, dried herbs, plum jam, rosehip, a real feeling of Tuscany. On the palate, medium to full-bodied, still rather grippy tannins, vibrant acidity, with black and red berries, spices and a long finish.
Merengő Egri Bikavér Superior 2007 I 92-94 points
Warm character, probably because of the amount of Merlot… Lot of ripe and overripe fruit. Full-bodied, silky tannins, elegant, Bordeaux feeling. Endless finish.
Merengő Egri Bikavér Superior 2006 I 91-94 points
Restrained on the nose, with lovely fruitiness. On the palate, full-bodied with lively acidity and smooth tannins. Very complex flavours of lots of fruit, beautiful bouquet of Mediterranean herbs and a little pipe tobacco. Super!
Merengő 2005 I 88-90 points
Cool notes on the nose with lots of fruit, cedar and a little root vegetable. Fresher and more vibrant on the palate than the 2006, with plenty of sour cherry, cherry, plum, a little pepper and star anise. Its structure shows potential for long development.
Merengő 2003 I 90-92 points
Mature aromas of sandalwood, cedar, a little smoke, marzipan and sour cherry jam. Full-bodied with attractive acidity and ripe tannins. Flavours of sour cherry jam dominate together with plum and plum jam.
Merengő 2002 I 87-88 points
A little vegetal on the nose, oakiness, pipe tobacco and cigar. On the palate, fresh acidity, slightly grippy tannins, lots of fruit, star anise, cloves and a long finish.
Nagy-Eged-hegy Egri Bikavér Superior 2012 I 93-94 points
Very deep, richly woven aromas of fleshy fruit including sour cherry, cherry and raspberry together with a little spearmint. Medium-bodied with a firm structure and elegant acidity. The palate is just pure fruit flavours. Very drinkable, elegant, great wine!
Nagy-Eged-hegy Egri Bikavér Superior 2011 I 90-91 points
A little reserved on the nose, but spicier and more mature than the 2012. The palate is denser, more mature, displaying some chocolate and tobacco too, as well as lively acidity. Full-bodied, long and dense.
The St Andrea Vineyard has 45 hectares under vine in the Eger wine region. It endeavours to express the uniqueness of the area with its blends, its Egri Bikavér and its Egri Csillag. It has vines spanning four villages and nine vineyard parcels. These are Magyalos, Paptag, Ferenc-hegy, Kovászó, Boldogságos, Kis-Eged, Nagy-Eged, Hangács and the Nagy-Eged-hegy vineyard, capable of attaining particularly fine quality.