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Egri Bikaver (Bulls Blood)

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    Posted: 22 October 2010 at 15:49
On my bi-monthly foray into the wine shop, I ran across Egri Bikaver and picked up another bottle. At $8.99 it is an excellent bargain for a very nice wine.
From MacNeil's Wine Bible: Of all countries in the eastern part of Europe, none has had as solid a tradition of producing great wines as Hungary....In fact, from the seventeenth to the twentieth century, Hungary possessed what was arguably the third most sophisticated wine culture in  Europe after France and Germany.
The most well known dry red wine of Hungary is Egri Bikaver- bull's blood of Eger. It is made primarily from the kekfrankos grape, grown in Eger, which is halfway between Budapest and Tokaj. The legend behind the wine dates back to the mid-1500s when the fortress of Eger, which belonged to the Magyars (ancestors to modern Hungarians), was besieged by the Turks. The Magyars fought fiercely, drinking huge amounts of red wine in the process. As the story goes, when the Turks encountered the Magyars' ferocious fighting skills and saw their red-stained beards, they retreated, fearing that the Magyars attained their prowess by drinking the blood of bulls.
A wonderful background to a truly wonderful wine. It has a deep ruby color, and a pleasant smokey, earthy, grapey smell that speaks of old-world wine style...none of this fruit-forward, grape-jam in your face stuff here. Oh no, this is subtle and almost elegant stuff here, just the way a wine should be.
It is thin; thin like a Pinot Noir that is, with a strong backbone of balanced flavor, alcohol and tannnins that give it a wonderful structure. This wine is undoubtedly a perfect match for tokany, paprika circe or any other spicy Hungarian dish. It has enough of all that is good in a wine to stand up for the flavours in the dish and dance with its partner on your palate.
Nothing wrong with sipping it either. In fact that's what's happeneing to my bottle right now, it is being enjoyed on its own, each wonderful sip a delicious trip back into the wines of the old world- my favourite style. As the sips develop in the mouth, there is a raciness of black pepper in the background making music with the grape and raspberry flavor up front and center stage. In the middle of everything is a bit of leather buried in there, rounding out the richness and depth that this wine has.
This from the back label of the bottle : Egri Bikaver is a subtle , full bodied wine from the Eger hills of Northern Hungary, a wine whose origin goes back to the seventeenth century. The wine is matured in oak barrels, stored in the labyrinth of tunnels cut into the hills that border the town of Eger.
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