Iván-Völgyi Szekszárdi Bikavér – Sebestyén Estate
Szekszárd, located in southern Hungary, is the other Bikavér stronghold. The region has a loess-based soil and is heavily planted with Bordeaux varietals. But there are also plenty of local grapes, like Kékfrankos and Kadarka. The main difference between Bikavér from Eger and Szekszárd is that in Szekszárd Kadarka is mandatory in the blend, and in Eger Kékfrankos is mandatory. This makes Szekszárd’s Bikavér lighter in color and much spicier than Eger’s. Iván-Völgyi is the first single-vineyard Bikavér from the Szekszárd region. In order to be a single-vineyard Bikavér, all four of the varieties that need to be added to the blend must be planted in the same vineyard. This is a blend of Kékfrankos (46 percent), Kadarka (14 percent), Merlot (16 percent), Cabernet Franc (12 percent), and Cabernet Sauvignon (12 percent), aged for 22 months in French and Hungarian 500-liter oak barrels. It’s elegant, red-fruit driven, earthy, and spicy. It’s closer to a Burgundian-style than an Bordeaux style wine, and is an elegant and excellent pairing for roasted poultry, roasted vegetables, and pork.
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The southern Szekszárd region excels in producing some of Hungary’s most elegant and spicy red wines. The region is one of the strongholds of Kékfrankos and Kadarka, and the Bordeaux varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon) are also important. Szekszárd’s wines are generally full bodied yet elegant, with plenty of lively acidity. Along with Eger, it is also the only place in the country that may use the name Bikavér (Bull’s Blood) to describe its full-bodied red blends. It is said to have coined this name before its rival in the north.
The region stretches over the Szekszárd Hills and the northeastern fringes of the Geresdi Hills. It lies between the Mecsek Hills to the west and the Danube and its floodplain to the east. It is characterized by rolling hills, and is crisscrossed by erosional valleys, thus creating a range of distinct microclimates. There are 2,187 hectares of planted vineyards, and the region’s soil is characterized by a thick layer of loess, generally a couple of meters’ thick, but which can reach up to an incredible 30 meters in some places. The areas with terra rossa—iron-rich, red clay subsoil—are the best vineyards for red wine. Loess soils and areas with high loess walls are easily eroded, and so they are often terraced.
Viticulture in the region goes back to Roman times.
The region flourished under the Habsburgs, with many famous cellars, the abbey cellar system, and press houses. Vineyards grew a wide range of varieties. Kadarka took over as the leading variety in the 19th century and is said to have inspired some of Franz Liszt’s music. The variety was celebrated by poet János Garay, who is credited with dubbing the deeply colored local red wine ‘Bikavér’ in a poem.
Szekszárdi Bikavér is a spicy Kékfrankos-led blend, which also includes a touch of Kadarka and up to 40 percent Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. It must contain at least four varieties and be aged in oak for at least one year. It is fruity yet elegant, with silky tannins and a juicy full body. The premium version requires a year of further aging in oak and a further 12 months in bottle. These are harmonious, full-bodied wines with great complexity and freshness.
Kadarka yields a light, gently aromatic, cherry-flavored, spicy wine with a beautiful ruby color, while Szekszárdi Kékfrankos demonstrates a rich, fruity style with plenty of sour cherry, spice and refreshing acidity. Many wineries also boast powerful, and often somewhat alcoholic, Bordeaux blends, Cabernet Francs, Cabernet Sauvignons, and Merlots among their top wines. The blends often contain a splash of Kékfrankos to add a touch of Szekszárd character.
In 2014 winemakers in Szekszárd introduced a special bottle that may only be used for premium wines, which have passed a tasting panel, in these three flagship styles. The Szekszárd winemakers are a great example of a Hungarian wine region collaborating to develop a common style and vision for the future.
The Sebestyén Winery is a 30-acre family estate run by siblings, Csaba and Csilla Sebestyén. Csaba founded the family winery while Csilla was in Dublin working as a sommelier in a two-star Michelin restaurant. After a few years she returned to Hungary and joined her brother in the family winery. Her international experience helped the winery shift its focus from making wines with international varieties, rather to local varieties. They focus on the Kékfrankos variety, which is the backbone of most of their blends—including the famous Bikavér (Bull’s blood) wines from the Szekszárd region.
Their goal is to produce (mostly) single-vineyard, elegant wines, which have a balanced oak influence and a strong varietal expression. This is a very Burgundian philosophy. Their vineyard land is divided among five different premium locations in the region: Iván-Völgy, Görögszó, Nána, Szentgál, and Porkoláb-Völgy.
|Country||1-3 bottles||4-6 bottles||7-12 bottles|
|Austria||7,800 HUF||8,300 HUF||9,500 HUF|
|Belgium||10,200 HUF||10,500 HUF||12,200 HUF|
|Bulgaria||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Croatia||10,200 HUF||10,500 HUF||12,200 HUF|
|Czech Republic||7,800 HUF||8,300 HUF||9,500 HUF|
|Denmark||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Estonia||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Finland||19,900 HUF||21,200 HUF||23,800 HUF|
|France||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Germany||7,800 HUF||8,300 HUF||9,500 HUF|
|Greece (mainland)||19,900 HUF||21,200 HUF||23,800 HUF|
|Hungary (outside of Budapest)||2,500 HUF||3,500 HUF||4,500 HUF|
|Hungary (Budapest)||2,500 HUF||3,500 HUF||Free delivery for orders over 20,000 HUF|
|Ireland||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Italy||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Latvia||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Lithuania||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Luxembourg||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Netherlands||10,200 HUF||10,500 HUF||12,200 HUF|
|Poland||7,800 HUF||8,300 HUF||9,500 HUF|
|Portugal||19,900 HUF||21,200 HUF||23,800 HUF|
|Romania||10,200 HUF||10,500 HUF||12,200 HUF|
|Slovakia||7,800 HUF||8,300 HUF||9,500 HUF|
|Slovenia||10,200 HUF||10,500 HUF||12,200 HUF|
|Spain||19,900 HUF||21,200 HUF||23,800 HUF|
|Sweden||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|