Bull’s Blood in East London

Having accomplished my studies and internship in Oenology in Hungary I am more than happy to give this insight into the country’s history and winemaking to the readers of LoveEastmagazine.

Hungary was, in fact, one of the leading wine producing countries in Europe for thousands of years, but following the aggressive assault of phylloxera (a bug from America) in the 1880s, two world wars, and 40 years of communist collectivization, its fame gradually faded. Nowadays, among the 22 regions, probably the most famous is Tokaj for its finest sweet and dry whites (Furmint) and Eger for its red blend (Bikavér).

The country is situated in the northern border of the winemaking area in Europe, ideal for the production of quality white wines, although, due to the unique microclimates and soil types, Hungary can produce a wide range of wines: from light fruity whites to full-bodied reds and sweet wines.

In each of the wine regions, you can find the most famous international grape varieties (such as Merlot, Cabernet etc.) and dozens of local and unique ones which all have their own story connected to the regions.

The signature Hungarian red wine is undoubtedly the Bikavér from Eger aka Bull’s Blood. Legend has it that the name Bull’s Blood comes from the siege of Castle Eger in 1552 by the Turkish army. After many days of fighting in the cold, the Hungarian soldiers, exhausted, begged their superiors for something to quench their thirst. The captain of the fortress, István Dobó, opened the cellars and generously served local wine to his soldiers. In their eagerness to drink, the dark red wine streamed down their faces all over their beards, moustaches and armour. The Turkish, who were attacking the castle, later saw the red stains on the faces and clothes of the Hungarians and, assuming they had drunk bull’s blood, attributed great strength to the defenders.

Eger is situated about 86 miles northeast of Budapest and, with its hilly terrain, has optimal conditions to grow grapes – in fact, scientists identified a 30 million-year-old vine grape fossil among the modern-day vineyards. The blend today is Eger’s flagship wine and, by regulation, it must be made of at least three grape varieties with a minimum of 50% of Kékfrankos and 2% of Kadarka.

Vinarius has recently started importing wines from Eger, made by the Thummerer family, who have a well-deserved reputation all over the country. They were one of the first in the region to start focusing on quality instead of mass production, after the communist era. Now they’re cultivating 100 hectares of vineyards with international and Hungarian grape varieties on the hills of Nagy-Eged mountain and have a 4,200 m2 cellar carved into volcanic tuff.

Our selection of Bikavér includes the Classicus and Superior and in both cases you can expect a deep-coloured, full-bodied red wine with dark fruits and blueberry aromas with a touch of sweet spiciness and a nice acidity, with more ageing aromas and complexity for the Superior. So if you would like to feel the spirit of the bull on a misty day, stop by at Vinarius!

Vinarius is a wine merchant and enoteca located at 536 Roman Road, E3. 

Mon & Tues: 12 – 7pm
Wed – Fri: 12 – 11pm
Sat: 11am – 11pm
Sun: 11am – 10pm
Food is served Wednesday to Sunday from 6:00 pm.
We take reservations for private and corporate parties and wine tastings.

With FREE delivery to E3, E6, E8, E9 postcodes only. Terms and conditions apply; please check our website for more information.

020 3302 0123
Follow Vinarius on twitter: @VinariusLondon and Instagram: @vinarius_on_the_roman