EGRI BIKAVÉR ‘BULL’S BLOOD’ BRIEFLY EXPLAINED
Despite current quality boutique winery blends showcasing the terroir, heritage, authenticity and winemakers’ craftmanship, Egri Bikavér still bears the legacy of the communist mass production characterized by huge quantities of standardized wine of poor quality and low cost. The artisanal quality Bikavérs fail to stand out in foreign markets flooded with bulk Bikavér where consumers label them as just cheap wines. The rumor has it that the name ‘Bikavér’ originated when the Turks saw Hungarian soldiers’ clothes and mustaches all covered in red during the battle of Eger and drew the conclusion they were drinking bulls’ blood to secure victory. As such, in the 19th century Bikavér did not describe a product, but rather the dark red color of extended maceration from random grapes planted and vinified together. After the phylloxera epidemic, varieties started to be disjointly planted, thus slightly increasing quality that was trampled by the collective viticulture during the Soviet era. With modern viticulture in place and focus on high quality wines, along with the formation of the newly ‘Egri Borműhely’ association, Egri Bikavér has the chance to shine both domestically in a predominantly white wine producing country and on the global wine market where consumer preferences are no longer favored by international varieties.
As such, market strategies should focus on teaching the consumer quality levels of Bikavér, the differences between the Classic, Grand Superior and Single Site Bikavér in Eger and regular and premium in Szekszárd. The white sister of Bikavér, Egri Csillag ‘Star of Eger’ should also be promoted as a blend that would strengthen a united quality image of the Bikavér family in both Eger and Szekszárd PDOs.