Have you tasted many Hungarian red wines? I’d venture to guess the answer is no. Here’s why—according to Taste of Hungary, 80% of all Hungarian wine exports are white wines. Most red wines are actually consumed within the country. So, unless you’ve had the chance to visit Hungary, wine lovers aren’t very likely to find red Hungarian wines on the market. Thus, I’m all the more thrilled to share Blauburger with you as part of my rare varieties series.
The Variety: Blauburger
With only 434 hectares planted in Hungary, Blauburger is quite a rare variety. However, this grape did not originate in Hungary. In 1923, Dr. Fritz Zweigelt created Blauburger in Austria by crossing Blauer Portugeiser and Blaufränkisch. He developed this crossing about year after creating his namesake grape, then known as Rotburger and today called Zweigelt. Viticulturists were looking for a red grape to plant in areas traditionally reserved for white wines because other red varieties had problems ripening at these sites.
Currently, only 742 hectares of Blauburger grow in Austria. Niederösterreich has the highest concentration of plantings.
Blauburger has medium-sized, cylindrical, often winged clusters. They are moderately compact while the berries have a frosted-bluish color. This is an early-to-mid season ripening variety.
Blauburger produces deeply colored red wines. For this reason, it is typically used in blends to enhance other lightly colored red wines. It is very rarely seen as a single varietal wine, which is why I had to snatch up this 100% Blauburger wine featured here. I can never pass up the chance to taste a rare variety in purity. Generally, Blauburger wines are somewhat neutral with soft berry flavors and a velvety, harmonious palate.
As far as blends go, Egri Bikavér, one of Hungary’s most famous reds, commonly includes Blauburger. Popularly known as Bull’s Blood, a number of varieties, including Kadarka, Kekfrankos, Zweigelt, Blauburger, Kekmedoc, Turán, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir, make up this blend. The northern Eger appellation of Hungary produces Bikavé and is home to 5,335 hectares of vineyards planted to a mix of lava rock and rhyolite tuff soils. The climate is cool with low rainfall and typically long winters.
Eger is where the Hungarians battled the Ottomans in the 16th century. Legend has it, the Hungarian victory was attributed to their intense, robust red wines, which the Turks called Bull’s Blood.
In the 1970s, Bikavér became famous when the state-owned Egervin winery monopolized production and pushed the blend into export markets. European Union wine laws introduced in 2005 indicate Bikavér wines must include some amount of all the previously mentioned varieties. But no single variety can exceed 50% of the blend.
The Winery: Havas & Timár
Havas & Timár Winery is located in Eger in the southern slopes of the Bükk Mountains. This is a region which has been growing grapes and making wine for over 1,000 years. Following initial studies and work experience in hospitality, winemaker Balázs Havas discovered his passion for wine. He enrolled in the Corvinus University of Budapest (University of Horticulture) to obtain his degree in viticulture and fell in love with the region of Eger. With his childhood friend, Lázlo Timár, he founded his own dream cellar Havas & Timár where he could pursue his art with passion.
They released their first hobby vintage in 2009 and purchased their current cellar in 2011. Havas & Timár have one hectare of their own vineyards and work closely with their wine growers since 2008, actively involved in all vineyard work.
The Wine: Havas & Timár Pincészet Burger 2018
For this 100% Blauburger, Havas & Timár’s goal “was to make a light, fruity, good-natured red wine.” The wine was fermented at low temperatures of 22-23°C. After pressing, the wine settled and then reductively matured in tank.
- Deep ruby color with violet reflections in the glass
- Nuanced aromas of lingonberry, subtle raspberry, strawberry, and a touch of violet
- Light body, medium+ acidity, tart raspberry and cherry flavors, light fine-grained tannins
- Fresh, easy drinking, fruity and easy-going wine that you want by your side for a good time
If you want to try this wine or any other Hungarian wines I feature on rare varieties, check out Taste Hungary and their online wine shop.
Blauburger is the ideal wine to pair with spiced grilled chicken kebabs, gyros, or grilled eggplant dressed in fresh herbs, olive oil, pomegranate seeds, and lemon zest. This wine also pairs exceptionally with falafel, ratatouille, and roasted stuffed peppers.