Why do we love red blends so much?
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Cuvée, assemblage, blend or as we say in Hungarian ‘házasítás’ all mean that the wine in our glass is made by mixing the wines of at least two grape varieties. We love blends, since they enhance the best characteristics of each variety of the blend.
Winemakers can blend different varieties, wines of different regions or wines of different vintages – the purpose is always to create a more exciting, more complex wine.
Blends with good concept and careful winemaking can equalize the differences between vintages or can complement the deficiencies of a certain variety. Creating a blend also requires great expertise: the winemaker should be aware of all the characteristics of each variety and he should know how the varieties react to each other – some of them might not benefit from blending as much as others.
On the label grape varieties appear in the order of quantity: the one which represents the highest portion of the blend comes first in the list of varieties. A Cabernet Sauvignon based wine usually has full body and more tannins, while a bend with higher proportion of Merlot is in most cases more velvety and softer.
Red blends are very popular in Hungary, therefore we can find them in several various styles. The historical blends are regulated strictly, just think of Bikavér wines – these are red blends which have to contain indigenous varieties.
Egri Bikavér wines in a nutshell
Egri Bikavér is one of the best known wines in Hungary and it is made of black grapes in Eger wine region.
– For Classicus Bikavér grapes have to ferment on the skin for a minimum of 8 days and the wines should age in barrel for at least 6 months. The blend has to contain at least three grape varieties, each should exceed 5%, but none of them can exceed 50%.
The use of Kékfrankos is mandatory and it must represent the largest proportion of the blend. Turán and Bíborkadarka wines cannot exceed 10% each and neither together.
– For Superior Bikavér wines grapes are required to ferment on the skin for at least 14 days and wines have to age in barrel for at least 12 months with an additional 6 month period of bottle ageing. Superior Bikavér should be made of at least 5 varieties, each should exceed 5%. However, except for Kékfrankos, none of the ingredients can exceed 30%. The proportion of Kékfrankos is to be between 30 and 50%. Turán cannot exceed 5%, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc wines cannot contribute to the blend with more than 30% (each and together).
– Grand Superior has the same requirements as do Superior Bikavér, however wines should age in barrel for a minimum of 16 months.
Szekszárdi Bikavér in a nutshell
– Szekszárdi Bikavér wines have to age in barrel for at least one year and the blend must contain at least three varieties. Kadarka and Kékfrankos have to contribute to the blend with a minimum of 40% (together), while other varieties cannot exceed 10%.
– Premium Szekszárdi Bikavér wines have to age one year in barrel and one year in bottle. At least 3 grape varieties are required to use: Kékfrankos has to contribute to the blend with at least 35%, Kadarka should be minimum 5% and Syrah cannot exceed 10%. Other grape varieties allowed: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir.
Bikavér is a traditional name for the red blends of Eger and Szekszárd, while there are some recently created blends with given names – for example RedY wines from Villány.
Bordeaux blends in Hungary
The varieties of Bordeaux are popular in Hungary as well, and winemakers can boast serious international and national acknowledgements (for example recently at Berliner Wine Trophy).
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