SZABAD SZELLEMŰ SÉTÁK
Tour Esprit Libre
Eger has been populated since the 10th century and must have been a significant-sized settlement as early as the beginning of the 11th century. One of the first bishoprics was founded in Eger by Saint Stephen I. The monks moving to the bishopric also brought along from their countries the grape types indigenous there. Some 5400 hectares of vineyards of the Eger wine region is located on the southern slopes of the Bükk Mountains. The city has several Ottoman sites, including mosques', muezzin tower, and a Turkish bath.
The Tartar invasion decimated the population. King Béla IV settled Walloons here, who introduced their knowledge of grape production and wine-making.
The clearings of the slopes around Eger were planted with grapes in the 13th and 14th centuries. The Cistercian monks moving in used these grapes to satisfy their demand for wine.
The role of the town in the first centuries of the Hungarian Middle Ages was truly significant: one of the largest bishoprics had its seat in the castle, to which not only Heves County but the whole north-eastern part of the country belonged. The initiation and development of wine-growing can be put down to the central, managing role of the church as wine is an indispensable element of church
ceremonies. By virtue of the king's decree, tenths, tithe had to be paid to the church and worldly institutions from wine-growing. The first cellars were built to store the tithe.
Serbs fleeing from the Turks brought along the technology of fermentation, red winemaking, and the Kadarka type as well.
After decades of unsuccessful sieges, the Turks took the Eger castle in 1596 and held it for 91 years. In spite of this, grape production survived. The reason for this is that though the Turks themselves did not consume wine, it was a significant source of income.
The legends of the Bikavér dates Ottoman times. It is believed that at the time of the standoff of 1552, fort captain Istvan Dobo opened the cellars, and generously served wine to his soldiers. They, not surprisingly, were very thirsty and in their eagerness to drink the ruby red wine ran down their faces all over their beards, mustaches and armor. The Turkish, who were attacking the castle, saw the red liquid on the faces and clothes of the Hungarians and, assuming it was bull’s blood, attributed their great strength to it.
One of our favorite Bull's Blood is from the cellar of Tóth Ferenc. There are several cellars in the Valley of the Fair Woman - Szépasszonyvölgy. They offer a wide variety of selections from the region, and if you get hungry, there are plenty of restaurants to calm your hunger. The place itself was occupied by pagan sorceresses, the fair women, who lured there pray to the valley to mate with them. Probably used some wine too.
In the 17th century, red wine grape types were gaining more and more grounds at the expense of white wine grapes. In 1687, the castle was taken back from the Turks. During the course of the rapid population of the town and its surroundings, the grape mono-culture was established in two decades. Most of the presently used names of the grape hills were formed at the end of the 17th century and in the 18th century.
In 1886, phylloxera appeared in Eger, wiping out the grapes almost completely. During the course of re-planting (reconstruction), new types were also introduced to the wine region. Following this, the tendency is similar to that of other wine regions.
Upon the re-planting of the vineyards completely wiped out, the intention was to adopt also types not known earlier. In the past decade, Eger winemakers proved abroad as well that the juice of the Leányka, Királyleányka, Hárslevelű, Olaszrizling, Muskotály, Tramini, Szürkebarát and Chardonnay grapes are grown here withstands competition with any domestic or foreign competitor. According to experts, the wines of the Eger Cabernet Sauvignon, Furmint, Kékfrankos, Blauburger, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, and Syrah grapes can also expect great international success if the possibilities of this region are utilized well by the winemakers.
The AOC system operating in developed, western wine-cultures has been adopted. In addition to the one large state winemaking company, through the establishment and development of several hundred medium- and small-sized wine-companies, the quality of the wines of the wine region has improved significantly.
Though the age of the oldest wine cellars is over 400 years, new cellars are still being cut even nowadays.