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MAIN Arrow to Wine Directory Wine Arrow to  Wines of Europe Europe Arrow to Wines of HungaryHungary

Hungary's Bikaver Reserve - Wine of Legends

Prior to the Communist Era, Bikaver was considered throughout Europe to be a superior flagship of Hungarian red wines. Crafted from grapes grown in both the Szekszárd and Eger appellations, the classic red has been the muse of poetry and music for centuries.

The first written mention of Bikaver was in a poem by Janos Garai in 1846, describing Szekszard as the home of the evocative wine. The stunning, rich red wines of Szekszard have an extensive history filled with famous figures.

Franz Schubert's favorite wine came from the ancient local grape Kadarka, "The Nectar of Szekszárd," which led to his composition of the Trout Quintet. Another famous devotee of Szekszárd wines was Franz Liszt. The Szekszárd Mass was composed in honor of the region, and Liszt also sent Pope Pius IX Szekszárd red wine as a personal gift.

Eger has its own historical interpretation of the wine's history. Legend has it that during the siege of the Eger fortress in the mid 1500's, Hungarian soldiers fortified themselves with Bikaver found in the catacombs of the castle. Enabled with what appeared to be super-human strength, they were able to hold off the Turkish invaders that greatly outnumbered the Hungarian troops.

Legend or not, lack of quality control during the communist era produced inexpensive, lack-luster, inexpensive table wines for the masses which hit markets with the generic name Egri Bikaver. Those who came in search of the fabled wines of Szekszárd were often disappointed and the reputation of the wine began to dim. Bikaver's fame resulted from the wine's historic 500 year-old past.

However, post-communist era vintners were quick to return the legendary red to its former glory. Based on the current rapid developments in Hungarian wine production post 1989, new legends are in the making that could be instrumental to securing the country's future as a leading producer of premier red wines.

Monarchia Matt International, led by Takler's Bikaver Reserve wine from Szekszárd, is restoring the image and name of this historical brand.

Bikaver always was and will continue to be a blend of three or more approved varietals.

In the case of the Takler Szekszárdi Bikaver Reserve 2002, these include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Kadarka and Kekfrankos. The 2000 vintage was selected by DECANTER Magazine as a Top Fifty World Wine Value, the only wine from Hungary to place on the list.

With most of Eastern Europe now joining the EU with all the economic benefits and boon to tourism and travel throughout Hungary, watch for Bikaver as well as other wine regions throughout Hungary to return to their glory days as one of Europe's premier winde producers.

Egészségedre! (...to your health!)

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