Tag Archives: Bikavér

The magical world of Vida’s Szekszárd


The new labels for Péter Vida’s wines were launched in Budapest this week. Collaborating with a top Spanish graphic designer, Xavier Bas, the labels signify a new phase in the life of this Szekszárd winery.

Since winning Winemaker of the Year in 2011, Péter Vida and family have been working vida5hard in the vineyard and winery, replanting vines and revamping technology with the goal of producing top quality wines that reflect the Szekszárd’s terroir. Péter admits that the first years leading up to this were not always easy; however, they are now poised for a change of image and a tightening up of their range.

vida1A year ago, they decided to change their image as it was frustrating that their labels didn’t show what they wanted to say about their wines. They sought someone closely aligned to themselves and their ideas and found internationally acclaimed Spanish designer Xavier Bas. They sent him some of their wines to try. He was won over and soon came to visit them in Szekszárd.

Xavier said that he discovered three things there:

  • The labels didn’t show anything about Péter Vida, winemaker and family and their love for wine and its creation. It’s very difficult to communicate anything, he feels, if the winery is not unique and real.
  • The labels didn’t reflect the concrete, specific character of Szekszárd and its roots and landscape. They didn’t show the spirit, work, villages, grapes and forest.
  • They had a complex and diverse range of wines.

At the same time, they also realised with so many wines, their message about Szekszárd and the winery was being diluted, so they decided to pare the number down to just seven, broken down into three categories, which should all, of course, be connected to Szekszárd.

The first category, aimed at the supermarket shelves, should be popular, light and quaffable and comprises a rosé and two reds – Tünderrózsa (’fairy rose’), a light, fruity yet elegant rosé from Pinot Noir, Kékfrankos and Kadarka, Tündértanc (’fairy dance’), an elegant Kékfrankos-based blend, supplemented by smooth Merlot and Ölelés Merlot (’embrace’), a vibrant, elegant Merlot, an important grape for the winery.

The labels for this range feature fairies and conjure up the magical world of Szekszárd with fairies dancing in its forest and valleys. They are enchanting and eye-catching, perfect for attracting the attention of the casual consumer and connecting with them. Péter says that when you drink Tündertanc and close your eyes, you can see fairies dancing.

The second category are the Szekszárd wines, that is those wines considered the true reflection of the region and permitted to use the specially designed Szekszárd bottle – Kadarka, Kékfrankos and Bikavér. The labels here are different but demonstrate commonality and relate to the Szekszárd landscape.

The old-vine Kadarka (from vines planted in 1920) is characterised by an image that is a mixture of a vine and a bonsai tree. This was inspired by their Japanese distributor once visiting the gnarly, centenarian bush-trained vines and seeing their similarity to the bonsai – both requiring care and daily work. Petér says that the image ’aims to convey the sense that the wisdom of the plant is bigger than that of humans, even if it is diminutive in size.’

vida10The Hidaspetre Kékfrankos label features the woods above the deep loess which Xavier saw on his visit to the vineyard along with a deer that Péter pointed out inhabit the woods too. The design reflects the wine’s origins and connection to life.

The Bikavér label shows the wine’s relationship to its valleys and vineyards. Xavier used an old photograph as the basis for his design.

He also changed the logo so that it expresses Péter and the town of Szekszárd – this is now the tree of life. The vine represents the main element of wisdom and the passage of time, so is a kind of tree of life.


This is used on their flagship wine La Vida (Merlot backbone, with 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% of Szekszárd character from old-vine Kadarka). The use of the tree of life is also a great play on words, as the family name ’Vida’ also means ’life’ in Spanish.

What is also refreshing is to see that the labels put the winery’s name into the background and emphasise the wines themselves together with Szekszárd. Péter Vida Jr stresses that their aim is to promote Szekszárd and its wines, rather than just the winery.


I’ve always loved Vida’s wines. Now I love their labels too!

*All photos courtesy of Wineglass Communication


Jani’s fantastical world

bolyki borokJános Bolyki, one of the most personable winemakers in Eger, has launched new labels for his entire range of wine. They continue the light-hearted style of his previous labels. Fantastical creatures and objects grace the colourful hand-drawn labels designed once again by Géza Ipacs.

The Bolyki Pincészet labels have always been considered as a little eccentric, with names like Indián nyár (Indian Summer) or Hazug mókus (Insincere Squirrel), so the new labels continue in the same vein, but add a certain uniformity to the range, with characters and motifs being repeated across the labels. One reason for this is that the winery is cutting down its vast range of 24 wines of last year to focus on a core product line of eight wines. Plus rosé, says János as this always sells better than beer at his festival! The long-term plan is to have only five or six wines They are working increasingly with export, so it’s difficult to communicate so many wines. Their main focus is on Bikavér, as he says that this is what the market is looking for, but the range also includes Királyleanyka, Cabernet Franc, Csillag, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.

They came up with the roots for the new labels a couple of years ago when there was a circus wagon with animals at the winery, creating a fairy-tale environment for the kids. They decided to follow this direction but selected motifs that had worked in previous incarnations, so 70-80% of the motifs, such as squirrels, rabbits, hippos and zebras, are still the focal point of the colourful, somewhat surreal labels, and they all feature the quarry-like cellar in the background. The back labels weave playful tales and stories, with each wine having its own humorous story, yet linked somehow to the larger picture. He’ll be able to tell these to his kids too, as he and his wife are now expecting their fourth child. He wants the labels to say something about the winery, although he admits that you can only make labels like this if the context is serious, i.e. good wine.

The labels are being changed with the new vintage, so over the next year, Bolyki fans will be able to read the stories of the entire range, as well as taste the new vintage, of course.


János started making wine in 2003 and by 2006 was making enough to start to sell them commercially. His father was always very critical of his wines, never actually saying they were good, but, as János quipped, he was one of their biggest drinkers! He was soon winning awards and then invested in three interconnected cellars in Eger that had previously been a quarry. He lives from his winemaking, but also organises events, such as the popular three-day FesztEger rock festival at the end of May, where János also doubles as a DJ. If you can’t make the festival, then the quirky winery itself is also worth a visit!

*all photos above courtesy of Wineglass Communication


Battle of the Bull’s Bloods

Forget Spain or Portugal, a major bullfight took part in Budapest last week. The battle of the Bikavérs from Eger and Szekszárd.

Both regions produce a blend known as Bikavér in Hungary, in English ‘Bull’s Blood’. This is generally a full-bodied, relatively tannic wine, without too many rules about the composition of the blend, except that in Szekszárd it should consist of at least a total of 40% Kékfrankos and Kadarka combined.

They are, however, quite different wine regions. Szekszárd is located towards the south of Hungary, thus its wines are generally rather more full-bodied than those produced in Eger. Nevertheless, that is not to say that the Szekszárd will always be the more full-bodied. In many cases, the Eger versions can be just as big fruit and tannin bombs as the Szekszárd ones.

It was a kind of ‘battle of the couples’, with pairs of winemakers lined up next to each other – one from Szekszárd, one from Eger. Twenty-six wineries were represented – thirteen from Szekszárd, thirteen from Eger.

Generally the blends presented were Kékfrankos-based – typically 40-50% – with a smaller quantity of Kadarka – often 5%, rounded out with various other grape varieties, often international, e.g. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. There did not seem to be a huge difference between the blends from the two wine regions.

Participants from Eger: Kovács Nimród Borászat, Gál Lajos Pincészete, Besenyei Borház, Gál Tibor, Juhász Testvérek Pincészete, Gróf Buttler Borászat, St Andrea Szőlőbirtok, Bolyki Pincészet, Thummerer Pincészet, Demeter Pincészet, Ostoros-Novaj Bor and Hagymási Pincészet.

Participants from Szekszárd: Takler Pince, Bodri Pincészet, Schieber Pincészet, Sebestyén Pince, Mészáros Borház, Heimann Családi Birtok, Fritz Borház, Merfelsz Pince, Vesztergombi Pince, Pratner Pince, Vida Családi Borbirtok, Eszterbauer Borászat and Bősz Adrián Pincészete.

So, what was the outcome? Well, actually, it was a tie, or a draw, if you like, according to the visitors to the sold out event, organised for the fourth time in Budapest.

Hungarian wine word play

A little fun had by some DWCC participants after the conference


I recently attended the Digital Wine Communication Conference (DWCC2014) in Montreux.

2014-10-31 10.43.21

It was a fabulous event, attended by over three hundred wine professionals and enthusiasts. It was a great opportunity to meet some fantastic people, drink some delicious wine, look at some wonderful scenery and learn more about how to abandon my rather luddite tendancies regarding certain social media.

Following the event, I learnt that Hungary was among the top ten countries represented; the others being Switzerland, France, UK, USA, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Germany and Austria. I was pleased and surprised by this and commented. This sparked a great little thread with some Hungarian wine word play.

– Great. Hungary was in top ten. Who would have thought!

– We had a very strong presence from Tokaj which was brilliant … or maybe it was just people trying to get “free” wifi?

– What a noble-rotten thing to saybotrytised grapes

– It…

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Wonderful wines of St Andrea

St Andrea is a vineyard from the Eger region, which fashions some delicious wines.

Since they were established in 1999, after György Lőrincz, owner and oenologist, won a local wine competition with a wine he had made for his father and named after his wife, Andrea, they have won many awards and medals at both Hungarian and international wine competitions.

I was delighted to have the chance to taste a wide range of the wines, from quite a variety of vintages, I might add. Especially since Dr György Lőrincz himself presented them to us and gave us some background on the establishment of the vineyard and its development since then.

Ironically the wine with which Gyuri won the local Eger competition in 1999 was a Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape variety he no longer grows.

There were thirteen wines on our tasting list, the majority of which were not from this decade, so we were certainly in for a treat!

We started off with two very different whites: one from 2012 and one from 2003. The colour of the latter was just amazing.

Boldogsagós 2012boldogsagos

A crisp, dry wine with some flowery notes and a good backbone of minerality, clearly demonstrating its terroir. Fresh, with a touch of lemony zest on the palate. Delicious.

A vineyard blend from the ‘Boldogságos’ dülő, consisting of olaszrizling, szürkebarát (that’s pinot grigio to you and me), viognier and sauvignon blanc.

A quick trawl around a couple of wine webshops shows it to be retailing at about 3000 HUF.

Napbor 2003

A luscious deep golden colour in the glass. Aromas of marmalade, honey, peach and quince explode on the nose. It could almost be a Tokaj aszú! Doesn’t disappoint on the palate either – toast, honey, marmalade, vanilla also fill your mouth, with good underlying minerality and a slightly bitter note. Perhaps also a little honeysuckle. And a long, long finish. What a treat. And very fresh for an eleven-year-old Egri white.

A blend of chardonnay, olaszrizling and szürkebarát.

Just discovered it won bronze in the Challenge International du Vin, 2004, Bordeaux.

I’m quite sure you can’t buy this anywhere now, though!

Now for a couple magyalosof relatively old Kadarka’s, where we were able to compare two vintages.

Magyalos Kadarka 2007

Medium ruby, more secondary aromas on the nose – tobacco, chocolate, coffee, a hint of pepper and some cherry. A bit sherry like. On the palate, plums, caramel, coffee, cherry. Elegant and long.

Magyalos Kadarka 2005

Very pale in colour, almost amber. Tobacco and toast, caramel, coffee, sour cherry. Taste of aszú grapes. An almost perfume like note. Silky and smooth. Delicious.

Cabernet franc 2002

Currently one of my favourite grapes. Was great to try an older vintage. Medium ruby, a little sediment, but nice legs ;-). Rich chocolate, coffee, tobacco, coal, toast and black fruits on the nose. The palate backed all this up. Long finish. Yum!

Merlot 2003

Unfortunately, one bottle of this was corked and my tasting came from this..

Bikavér 2002

Medium ruby with a bit of sediment. The nose provided a blast of black cherry, chocolate, tobacco and a hint of sherry. The palate also gave a good dose of smoky minerality, leather, cherry liqueur, pepper, spices and coffee. Just like a good ‘bull’s blood’ should be.

Merengő Bikavér 2002standrea_merengo

This one fits into the ‘superior’ category of bikavér, rather than just the ‘classico’ like the previous one.

Deeper in colour with a very ‘dark’ nose. Smoky, slatey minerals again with a dose of chocolate and cherry. Elegant, ripe tannins. Oily texture, dense and full-bodied.

Merengő Bikavér 2006

This wine picked up a stack of awards, deservedly, both in Hungary and internationally.

Deep ruby, luscious dark fruits, chocolate and spice both on the nose and the palate. Rounded, well-interated tannins. Smoky and masculine. One to keep.

Merengő Bikavér 2007

Rich terroir wine from the Merengő dülő, full of smoky minerality. Chocolate, black, black fruit and liquorice. Just my kind of wine.

standrea_hangacsHangács Bikavér 2008standrea_aldas_egri_bikaver_2008k

Medium ruby. Again displaying a large whack of granitic minerality. A dense, complex wine bursting with black fruit.

Áldás Bikavér 2011

Amazingly, this wine is the vineyard’s ‘basic’ bikavér. The nose bursts with fresh, ripe black fruits. Chocolate and plum on the palate. A great, everyday, playful wine to quaff with friends.

(HUF 3250 from St Andrea webshop)

Valóban méltó Pinot noir 2009

Another delicious wine. Why break the trend, eh?

Pale ruby, verging on the transparent. Red, peppery fruit – raspberries and cherries. Mineral, smoky notes coming through once again. Surprise, surprise. Terroir, terroir…valoban_melto_2009

Our tasting list was now at an end, but another bottle was produced, a 2011.

(HUF 7590 from St Andrea webshop)

Valóban méltó Pinot noir 2011

Another example of a spicy, peppery, herbal pinot noir. Elegant and long. Wow

And another ….

Hangács Bikavér 2011

Smoky dark fruits. Elegant and balanced. Black cherry and spice. Granite and that terroir thing again.

What can I say. A fabulous tasting, with not a bad wine in sight, except for the unfortunate corked Merlot. Those who got the uncorked version confirmed it was delicious.

Many thanks to Gyuri and Gabriella Meszaros from Borkollegium for a fabulous evening with some delicious wines. Have now booked up quite a few of my Tuesdays for similar!