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Bolyki & Bolyki

The Eger region of Hungary, for obvious reasons, continues to be better known around the world for its plump&fruity Egri Bikaver, rather that focused&elegant and ageable reds. It’s hard to compete with such an incredible wealth of Kadarka, Kekfrankos and Blauer Portugeiser. And in truth, far more bad red wine is made in other wine regions of Hungary (and Eastern Europe) that in Eger.

But over the last decade or two, Eger region -and Hugarian viticulture in general-  has been making serious strides in its red wine production, following the lead of a few producers who have been breaking the rules and bringing new depth and incisiveness into the somewhat bland Bikaver wines.

Few would argue that Janos „Jani” Bolyki is an unmistakable presence and winemaker; some would place him in the front of the visionary pack, while other would rather treat him and his wines as exotic specimens. Not bad for a guy who had no interest in being a winemaker at first, who sheltered the winemaking equipment in an old stone quarry.

bolyki 2009

bolyki 2009

The greatest compliment I can personally pay to Bolyki wines, is that they redeemed Bikaver (and Eger wines) for me, producing not just drinkable and interest-worthy reds, but  eye-catching, tongue-twisting and surprising wines, that are far more than mere blends.

The Romanian-reading audience may recall my sheer enthusiasm when drinking the Bikaver on Jani Bolyki. The other day I had in my glass another great example of 100% Bolyki spirit: the Bolyki & Bolyki 2009 blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Like Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, this wine goes in the family -if we trust the pictures on the label- but also the blending partners (Cabernet Franc and Merlot have a parent-offspring relationship).

2009 bolyki Cabernet Franc & Merlot

2009 bolyki Cabernet Franc & Merlot

Medium to dark garnet in the glass, with strong purple hues, the first nose brings cedar, exotic spices, black wild cherry and just a hint of stables by-products (aka horse manure) . In the mouth, the wine has a wonderful depth, breadth, and overall richness, balanced between cherry and black cherry fruit, pine and woody notes, spices, and a warm character that turns earthy as the cheerful tannins engage the edges of the tongue.

Although it sports 14.5% alcohol, it is fantastically drinkable, with a hint of saline note on the finish, reminding of pickled black olives and anchovies. While it could be great as a food-wine, with numerous pairings at hand, I advise you differently: turn down the lights, fill up the glass, play your favorite Blues Brothers record, and fancy yourself wearing a pair of black-rim shades…



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