There are numerous excellent wine-producing sites in Hungary, but a recent wine tasting with the St. Andrea, Kovács Nimród and Gróf Buttler wineries indicates that Nagy-Eged Hill in the Eger Wine Region stands out from the crowd.
The most valuable terroir in the Eger Wine Region is the 536-meter-high Nagy-Eged (Great Eged Hill), located north-east of Eger with soils consisting of grey Triassic-limestone with calcareous-based sediment. Grape production has a long tradition here: French Cistercian monks introduced their knowledge of Burgundian style grape production and winemaking to Eger and the Nagy-Eged hill in the 13th century. It is no coincidence that both Hungarian and French grape varietals feel very much at home in this special terroir. On November 30, three wineries which currently own parcels of land on Nagy-Eged, held a wine tasting at Kogart House, showing what this terroir (one of Hungary’s oldest and highest altitude terroirs) is capable of producing. Even veteran professional wine journalists were surprised by the complexity and elegance of the twelve wines presented there:
Kovács Nimród Winery (KNW) produces Grand Bleu; this Kékfrankos comes from the top of the Nagy-Eged vineyard, Central Europe's highest production site. Various vintages of this wine have won numerous prizes in Hungarian and international wine competitions, proving that truly great wines can be made from this variety. The winery’s flagship wine is the complex, robust NJK 2009 that contains Syrah and Kékfrankos, and which is a perfect partner for a good steak.
Gróf Buttler’s Winery produces incredibly concentrated Syrah, while their 15.5% Kadarka demonstrates the power of the terroir and shows a different side to this variety.
The St. Andrea Winery’s Bull’s Blood marks a return to glory for this Hungaricum blend: these mineral rich, spicy wines can hold their own with even the most elegant of Piedmontese wines.
The Eger region has a cool climate similar to that of Burgundy, as both wine regions lie on the northern periphery of the wine production area, which is why Nimród Kovács often refers to it as the ‘Hungarian Burgundy’. It is perhaps no exaggeration to say that the Nagy-Eged Hill is equivalent to the finest French Grand Cru terroirs, such as Corton or Romanée-Conti. Even if there is no real hope that Burgundy will at some time be referred to as the ’French Eger’, due to years of hard work and exemplary cooperation, Nagy-Eged Hill may end up on the world’s gastronomical map.