While perusing the shelves of the Lower Falls Wine Co., I found a Hungarian wine and it was under $20. I have tasted few Hungarian wines so here was an opportunity to expand my palate, one I could not refuse. Plus, I trusted that if this wine store chose to stock this wine, it was likely a very good wine. They did not let me down!
Hungary has a lengthy history of wine making, extending back to the period of ancient Rome. Their vineyards, spread over 22 wine regions, have a number of indigenous grapes, some common Central European grapes as well as some international ones. About 70% of their production are white wine, and their total production has unfortunately been decreasing in recent years. Only about 20% of their production is exported, and you certainly don't see many Hungarian wines at local wine stores.
The most famous wine of Hungary is the famed Tokaji, a sweet wine made from botrytized grapes, the first wine to be produced in this manner, even before Sauterne. Another well known Hungarian wine, though not close to the quality of the Tokaji, is the Bikaver, the "Bull's Blood."
The 2002 Ferenc Takler Bikaver Reserve is a nontraditional type of Bull's Blood made from the Szekszardi region in southern Hungary. It is not traditional as it does not contain the same blend of traditional Bikaver, which often had the Kadarka grape as the primary component. This Takler wine is a blend of 39% Kekfrankos (also known as Blaufränkisch), 30% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Kadarka, and 5% Cabernet Franc. It has an alcohol content of 13.5%.
The Takler winemaking tradition extends back a few hundred years, but the winery encountered some problem during the communist years. In the early 1980s, Takler began to rebuild and restore their vineyards and winery. Currently, the family has about 75 acres of vineyards and produces a variety of wines from indigenous and international grapes.
The Takler Bikaver reminds me of a blueberry-flavored Bordeaux, and I very much enjoyed it. It has a dark red color and an intriguing earthy aroma with hints of spice and red fruit. When you taste it, you first get a mouthful of fruit, blueberry, black cherry, and raspberry which then transforms into a spicy and earthy finish with strong tannins. I paired this wine with a slow-roasted pork shoulder, and it was a tasty match. The wine did not overwhelm the roast and the spices covering the roast complemented the flavors of the wine. This is definitely a wine I would recommend.
Have you expanded your palate lately, trying a wine from a less common region?