Three winemakers chatting – Bolyki, Böjt, Lőrincz Jnr
Huge tuff walls, the office in the circus wagon, memories of the FesztEger music festival and three winemakers sitting on the grass. That’s how our conversation starts with János Bolyki, Gergő Böjt and György Lőrincz Jnr in Bolyki Valley.
Radio Üllői Út
The Bolyki: They called me from Radio Üllői Út recently to talk about the Flavescence dorée disease and the new wine law to the listeners. Live, of course. I said I was happy to talk about what the most important thing is for me right now, about Egri Csillag (Eger’s white blend) and Bikavér (also formerly known as Bull’s Blood), because I’m not familiar with the other two. They said, ok, “3-2-1, you’re on air”. And they asked me about Flavescence dorée, grapevine diseases and wine laws. Not one word about Egri Csillag and Bikavér! I was sweating by the end of it, and on top of that, I was called József Bolyki by the reporter throughout. A month later, a friend of mine called and said that I shouldn’t worry about the interview, as only two of us heard it: myself who was a gibbering wreck and he who made the interview with me as a joke. So, now it would be great to really talk about Eger.
The Lőrincz: Radio Üllői Út… Well, yes. Luckily, Egri Csillag has a better reputation but it could still do with a bit of the spotlight.
Th Böjt: It has a strong name. When I started seven years ago, I promised myself that I’d only make one Csillag and one Bikavér.
Lőrincz: And you kept to it! Rosé, Kékfrankos, and we also saw some kind of a Cabernet barrel at yours.
Böjt: I don’t have a rosé any more. Jani Bolyki makes enough and you, too.
Bolyki: Of course, I make it. That’s exactly what is good about Eger, that it’s so colourful.
Lőrincz: For me, that’s also the most exciting thing about this wine region – we have a wine for every season. Now summer is here, the warm weather came pretty early and Eger is a perfect alternative for that as well. A Királyleányka, a lighter or fuller bodied Csillag…
Böjt: …and of course your rosés. But on a cooler, wetter afternoon or for a dinner, there are the zesty reds. A good Kékfrankos-based Bikavér, for example.
Bolyki: Yes, a Kékfrankos one. That’s also my favourite variety. There should be lighter reds, as there have been quite a few rainy afternoons around here.
Our prayers were answered but we have to compose them more precisely
Lőrincz: It was a desert here at the beginning of the year. We prayed no end to God and the Virgin Mary for rain. It’s obvious that all our prayers have been answered, so the next aim is for us to compose them more precisely. Fine tuning.
Bolyki: The good thing is when a wine is zesty. This is the other quality of Eger. Cool climate, the acids don’t burn away but the fruit ripens perfectly. That’s how everything from the Királyleányka through Csillag to Bikavér becomes crispy and still complex.
Böjt: We believe in blends. It’s no accident that for centuries people planted, trained and harvested the different varieties mixed together here. We’re continuing the tradition, only we do it a lot more savvily now.
Lőrincz: I know that everything recalls the same thing in me, but it’s like the Holy Trinity. Eger has its own trinity: cool climate, volcanic soil and blended wine. This is the basis of everything.
Bolyki: Volcanic subsoil, is it? And you’re praising the Nagy-Eged, most of which is pure limestone.
Böjt: He’s only talking so much about it because they’ve eventually managed to harvest a couple of bunches from its steep slopes…
Lőrincz: No, Nagy-Eged is truly breathtaking. The limestone only boosts Eger’s complexity. But of course, the most important soil type is this porous and colourful tuff, the one that we are standing in the middle of now.
Böjt: Then, at times, it collapses a bit, doesn’t it Jani?!
The music was on but the walls were still standing
Bolyki: Hardly ever. Recently, there was FesztEger, the music was on but the walls stood firm. But I didn’t see any of you.
Lőrincz: I’ve never been to a festival. Maybe once. It’s not my thing.
Böjt: You’re a bit stiff, Gyurika. Of course, since I got into winemaking, I’ve only been to wine festivals, never to music ones.
Bolyki: But festivals are the thing now. They are trendy. The same as with wine – that’s also defined by trends. But what interests me, what I found important is a very simple aim: a wine should be delicious, easy to love with good sips. I’m lucky, because that’s also the trend now.
Lőrincz: This can be felt in the Napbor well. When we made the Egri Csillag in many levels, the same way as with the Bikavérs, we named our Napbor as the classical base. It’s enjoyable, vibrant, tank-made and crispy. It’s not about the vineyard, not about the barrel, but about summer happiness.
Bolyki: I don’t put the Csillag and the Királyleányka into barrels, either. They have to be fresh, zesty, yet layered. And for this, we have our soil and the cooler, northern climate for it.
Böjt: Surely, because of the New Zealand experiences, but for me the Sauvignon Blanc cannot be omitted from it. I tuned mine in that direction because that’s what I like. And if it’s a red, it should also be cooler, elegant, vibrant and full of excitement. Taut and stony.
Where is it good to be?
Bolyki: Sure, sure. The volcano. I keep saying that it’s important. And the vineyard. You have to be in the vineyard. I can only be there twice a week…
Lőrincz: I can luckily be there for eight hours a day. A lot more than in the cellar. That’s my dad’s field, I mainly go down for blending, to taste together, to come up with it. My dad, luckily, gives enough space for that.
Böjt: It’s a lot better to be in the vineyard than in the cellar. You can recharge your batteries, you’re calm, you can see your vines, you love them. It’s the best on a tractor. Yesterday, for example, I was driving around for six hours. It was stunning. On the other hand, it’s definitely bad being in the office.
In the cellar
Bolyki: In the cellar, you can just spoil what the varieties and the soil give. Of course, what goes on in there is also a huge responsibility. For Királyleányka to stay pure and healthy but not lose anything from the flavour and the aroma of the grape, you fundamentally need hygiene and care.
Lőrincz: Water filtered through active coal, UV-light against the fungi at night…
Bolyki: Air purifying with NASA technology 24 hours…
Böjt: Dehumidification, airing. Constant tidying up, at my place you could eat off the floor. But that’s the only way to do it. In Eger, as much of a gift the tuff may be in the soil, it’s the same hardship in the cellars that are dug into the rocks. It’s porous, thus we have to keep them very clean.
Bolyki: A pristinely pure Királyleányka, pure Csillag, mineral and place-of-growth Kékfrankos-based red blend. These are the ones I feel the best with.
Böjt: Now, I aspire to have Hárslevelű, I need it, no matter how many varieties we have. I think the local varieties show the place of growth very nicely.
Lőrincz: These are the ones that can be ornamented with international varieties. With Chardonnay, for example. That’s how, for example, Napbor becomes more layered but is still an Eger-style wine.