In April, Gyorgy and I visited Janos Bolyki's winery in Eger, Hungary. It was just a short visit as we were en-route to Budapest for the wine fair that evening after a couple of days' buying trip around Tokaj.
We stopped for a few glasses of wine and, while we were there, flipped through a booklet produced by the winery introducing each of his wines.
As you can probably see from the new wine label for the Bikaver Bull's Blood blend, wine for Janos Bolyki is about fun and enjoyment - as well as a bit of magic. It's like a mini fairytale depicted on every bottle.
Bolyki begins the journey he tells in his wine booklet by introducing Mr Diabolical the Rabbit, and goes into a tangent about the Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 film The Man Who Knew Too Much and cryptically quotes: "Don't think of Psycho buddy, that was made in a different year, and not even Rear Window, because that is from 1954, and the ones about dolphins became popular much later, and Hitchcock didn't event direct those kinds."
After reading this, I asked Gyorgy if it was the same gobbledegoop in Hungarian. He said yes and laughed.
Once I'd read it a few times, I assumed Bolyki - or Johnny as he calls himself in the English version - was describing his new series of wines as a new movie. It's like saying: this is different because it's supposed to be like that. I like this way of thinking - a refreshing look at wine as art, or entertainment to be enjoyed.
View of the Bolyki winery from above.
Bolyki has invested heavily in his now 26 hectare estate. It is something to behold. Etched into a large stone quarry (see picture above), we toured the site across three different levels. At the bottom is a knights of the round table style tasting room, cellar and bar. On the next level is a massive events space for hire. While at the top you will discover a large open area like a big bowl, where I'm told Bolyki hosts music festivals and parties.
The quarry top level at Bolyki's winery lit-up for a festival event.
In his booklet, Bolyki describes his estate by quoting Mr Diabolical's grandfather:
"The estate isn't just land and sunshine Kiddo. It's much more like brutal suckage. But mostly a getaway, I for example get away from your grandmother."
As for the wine? Well, in his description of the Eger Bull's Blood Bikaver, he's not exactly giving us tasting notes. It's a little more tongue-in-cheek:
"100% Bull's Blood - AKA Bull's Blood on Elm Street. Butchers from Eger received the wine unequivocally dedicated to them with overflowing love. He is the result of heroic struggle, for a long time he was just 98%, sleepless nights, pillows drenched in sweat and tears strewn along his path to a 100%, but victory! Next year, it's no secret, a 120% is the mark, but for that I think we have to include in the story a few lovely cows..."
Don't worry wine lovers, there's no blood or cow in Bolyki's wines. Just delicious, spicy berries and warming vanilla notes. Why not try a bottle?