*This article is one in a series that covers my visit to the Eger wine region.
While I visited St. Andrea Winery in the Valley of the Beautiful Women, a visit to the main winery in Egerszalók (about 15 minutes from the center of Eger) is absolutely worth it if you have the time. And you should make the time. With a quaint tasting room and a gorgeous patio that invites you to have a glass or two, it’s a great place to take a deeper dive into the wines of the region.
The freshly baked bread with oil and cheese is the perfect accompaniment to the tasting.
Since making its first wine in 1999, St. Andrea has been on an upward trend. One of the most prominent wineries in the region, St. Andrea grows more than sixty varieties throughout Hungary (21 in Eger). Everything is done by hand with fermentation mostly in stainless steel and 100% Hungarian oak used for aging. They make a combination of traditional blended wines as well as some varietal and single vineyard wines. As tourism has increased throughout Hungary, St. Andrea is working to accommodate the trend and is in the process of expanding its property and even adding a hotel for visitors.
A tour of the cellars finds massive walls constructed of volcanic rock which comes from the vineyards in which their grapes grow.
Here’s what I tasted.
Given Eger’s red wine pedigree I was surprised at the nice selection of white wines available.
2016 Boldogsagos Egri Cuvée Grand Superior
Single vineyard Eger white blend of Olaszrizling, Hárslevelű, Furmint, Leányka, Pinot Gris, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc with six months in oak. Elegant, with citrus, green apple and mineral. But for the last wine I had, this would have been a favorite for me.
2016 Örökké Egri Cuvée Grand Superior
Comprised of 33% Chardonnay, 28% Sauvignon Blanc, 13% Pinot Blanc, 7% Pinot Gris 7% Furmint, 7% Rajnai Rizling 5% Hárslevelű and spends nine months in oak. Softer and more round due to the additional time in oak but still very elegant.
2016 Egyetlen Egri Cuvée Grand Superior
Crafted of 50% Chardonnay, 40% Sauvignon Blanc, and 10% Hárslevelű with one year in oak. While the minerality was still present, more of the butter and honey characteristics from the oak shone through.
And then it was time for the reds. I’d have to say that a common theme of the St. Andrea red wines was the elegance and very present natural acidity.
2016 Egri Kadarka Superior
Bearing some similarities to Pinot Noir due to its thin skin, lower tannin, and higher acids, Kadarka plays a key role in the Bikavér blends. Not often found as a varietal wine, this one sort of reminded me of a Pinot. Fresh cherry and earthy with smooth tannins, but also with some spice which is a characteristic of Kadarka. Very elegant wine.
2016 Kis-Eged Dűlő Pinot Noir Grand Superior
This single vineyard Pinot Noir comes from the Kis Eged vineyard which is right next to the famed Nagy Eged vineyard. Elegant with great acidity and somewhat Burgundian in nature.
Next up was two of their Bikavér red blends which were crafted of very similar grapes but were quite different wines.
2015 Hangács Egri Bikavér Grand Superior
The first Bikavér was single vineyard wine from the Hangács vineyard. It spent sixteen months in oak and was more rustic than the second Bikavér. Meaty with mulberry, blackberry, and mushroom characteristics.
2015 Merengő Egri Bikavér Grand Superior
Grown in volcanic soil (and duly noted on the bottle), this was the more elegant of the two Bikavér wines. A so-called barrel select wine where they choose the best lots from the barrel, it spent 18 months in oak. Black plum, dark cherry, forest floor, and floral notes with smooth tannins and tight acidity. Of the two wines, this one will hold up in the cellar a bit longer.
2016 Nagykadarka Egri Kadarka Superior
If I thought I liked Kadarka, this one from Nagy Eged blew me away! My favorite wine of the day for sure! Intensely colored with rich, concentrated notes of mocha, black cherry, earth, and smoke, it was much more full-bodied than Kadarka tends to be. And a fantastic way to finish!
Many thanks to Zita for guiding me through our marathon tasting! St. Andrea offers two lines of tastings – standard and premium. While not always necessary, reservations are highly required.
Be sure to check out the other wineries I visited while in Eger. Cheers!