Learn about a “rough edged” Hungarian wine and what it has to do with Dracula…
Eszterbauer Szekszárd Sógor 2013
Did Dracula drink it?
I’ll start by saying I’m like 99.93% sure that Dracula never drank a bottle of Eszterbauer Kadarka. 🙂 But that doesn’t mean there’s not a connection to be made here somewhere!
Our Kadarka wine originated in the Szekszard region of south central Hungary, a country with a rich history of quality wine production dating back several thousand years. The Kadarka varietal specifically seems to have been introduced to Hungary as people fled the Ottoman invasions in the mid 1400s.
One of the most common applications of the dark-skinned Kadarka grape has been as a blending ingredient in Bikaver, or “Bull’s Blood”. Starting in the late 1800’s, in the Eger and Szekszard regions of Hungary, Kadarka was combined with Kekfrancos and other local varieties to produce this rich, dry, dark blend which quickly grew in popularity and awareness around the world. The combination of varieties knocked some of the tannic edge off the Kadarka and created a richer, more complex drinking experience.
So, did our favorite vampire drink this stuff?
Vlad Dracula, also known as simply “Dracula” or “Vlad the Impaler”, ruled current-day Romania during the mid-1400’s. Since Romania and Hungary share a border, we know that Dracula was at least “in the neighborhood” of our Hungarian Kadarka wines. But even more interesting is that, while preparing foreign alliances for the impending Ottoman invasions, Vlad was actually imprisoned IN Hungary for a number of years in the 1460’s after being betrayed by a potential ally.
As you can see in the map above, Dracula’s kingdom and travels definitely overlap with the areas where you would expect to find Kadarka and Bikaver (Bull’s Blood) wine. In fact, he was imprisoned just miles from one of the most well known Bull’s Blood regions! Unfortunately, our timing for the Bull’s Blood is off by a few hundred years. 😦 Vlad would have died almost 400 years before Bull’s Blood was introduced or popularized. But, I DO think it is very likely that he would have drank Kadarka, other local Hungarian varietals, and probably some local blends of them. Kadarka was definitely present in Romania and Bulgaria during his reign and was moving into Hungary right around the time he was imprisoned there. Why wouldn’t he have tipped some Kadarka back before heading off to the impalings? 🙂
Regardless of whether Dracula ever drank a drop of Kadarka, you definitely should! Seek some out locally and give it a try. Let me know if you enjoy it more than I enjoyed mine. I’m certainly going to look for it again and see how it hits me on the second try. And, if you ever happen to be in Budapest, stop by the Kadarka wine bar and check out their massive selection. I’m sure they could find something to please just about anyone!