Tasting Hungarian Wine: Kékfrankos and Bulls Blood!

12 Jul

I recently attended a tasting of Hungarian wines. Previously my experience with Hungarian wines have included Tokaji, Tokaji, and Tokaji. While I enjoyed Tokaji (both in the sweet Furmint and aromatic Muskotály), I knew there was more to taste. So come along with me and learn about what other wines are available from this old-world wine region! The host of my tasting was named Martin and when I inquired, he explained that most Hungarian winemakers still use traditional, old-world methods of pressing, punching down wines by hand, and barrel aging- often using the same barrels over multiple times. Here are my notes, in tasting order:    Lajvér Avantgarde Szekszárdi Cuvée Blanc is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, and Czerszegi. Nose of distinct grapefruit. In the mouth, bright citrus, white stone fruit, green vegetation, and considerable heat with a finish that shows spice, flint, and shale. IMG_1269 Günzer Villányi Mont Blanc blends both Muscat Ottonel and Welsch Riesling. With a slightly green tinge and a sugary nose, it shows apricot and citrus with a balanced, gentler acidity and a short finish. IMG_1270 Lajvér Avantgarde Szekszárdi Cuvée is 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot, a wine made by blending barrels of aged & fermented single grape wines together. It reminds me of nouveau beaujolais, tasting like a young, bright, fruit-forward wine that hasn’t fully congealed. IMG_1271 Lajvér Avantgarde Szekszárdi Bikavér has an unusual nickname, “Bull’s Blood”. Legend says that during the Turkish invasion of 1552, local soldiers defending the castle of Eger were fed a red wine that was mixed with the blood of bulls to strengthen their resistance, and after 39 days of intense and bloody combat, the invaders departed, leaving the castle intact. Bikavér is the same blend of 40% Cab Sauv, 40% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot, as the Cuvée above but a big difference is key: the grapes are blended and ferment in the same barrel together, making a very different and homogenous wine. Medium violet in color, the nose is dusty rose and forest floor with green pepper and granite. In the mouth, strong  black plum, boysenberry, and cassis meet solid tannin and a medium long finish. This is a wine to seek out and taste for yourself. IMG_1272 Mészáros Pál Szekszárdi Merlot is a fragrant wine with dominant flavor of boysenberry with some blackberry, subtle acidity and gentle tannins. Vanilla clay, and reticent oak notes follow. Might pair well with early courses or gentle main courses, this is a relaxed red with a hint of savory maturity. IMG_1273 Mészáros Pál Szekszárdi Kékfrankos is the one from the group I’d suggest that should not be missed by any serious oenophile. This 2012 bottling is 13% ABV and shows red and black fruit, balanced acidity, powerful tannins, and lots of spice. From the new world wines, this wine sits between a red zinfandel and syrah, with a sense of lush gracefulness. The tasting note I finished with was “really lovely”, and I marked this as a buy for my personal cellar. IMG_1274 Lajvér Avantgarde Szekszárdi Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 features 14%ABV and falls into the “classic cab” category, not to be mistaken with any of the new world cabs that feature big fruit up front, this one is nice, dry, subtle, and restrained. Medium purple in color, blackberry is dominant on the palate with medium acid and a medium short finish showing aged oak, forest floor, and chalky clay. IMG_1275 Lovassy Tokaji Muskotály Félédes is a sweet dessert wine/apertitif with fragrant nose of yellow peach and island mango. In the mouth it shows honey and candy with a short almond finish. A distinctive flavor that managed to not be either too sweet or too musky, there is a satisfaction in the balance that offsets the sweetness to prevent it being too much, and it was as popular at this tasting as Tokaji wines have been – hard to keep in the glass, surprisingly easy to drink, and often in short supply. IMG_1276   I was excited to taste a real cross-section of Hungarian producers in one sitting, and hope you get the opportunity to do the same. I expect you also will be pleasantly surprised, and hope readers will now expect and trust in finding quality, old-world wines made by hand in the under $20 range. There is indeed a good cross-section of Hungarian wines available, from whites, reds, and dessert wines, as well as the three not-to-miss wines in my opinion: the Bikavér, Kékfrankos, and Tokaji dessert wines. Enjoy!

à votre santé!

One Response to “Tasting Hungarian Wine: Kékfrankos and Bulls Blood!”


  1. The Top 5 Wines You Must Try in Hungary | Savored Journeys - April 1, 2018

    […] Kekfrankos is grown in the Sopron region, near the Austrian border, as well as from the areas of Szekszárd and Villány. Sopron is one of the few regions that produce both white and red wines and is also called “the capital of Blue Frankish.” Its climate is made up of cool summers and windy winters. Wine cellars are built underneath houses, instead of in the hillside. […]


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