Egri Csillag (lit. Eger Star) is a new, cuvée wine made up of a blend of white grape types grown in the Eger region.
Although it is easy to criticise the introduction of such a wine onto the market as a cynical marketing ploy, the truth is that some of the wineries have produced very fine wines under the name Egri Csillag.
Visitors to Eger, be they committed oenophiles (wine lovers) or enthusiastic amateurs, would be well-advised to at least taste some of the Egri Csillag on offer in the shops and cellars of the district; you may well be pleasantly surprised.
Poster for the Egri Csillag Festival 2013
The uniqueness of the Eger wine region has always lain in its ability to sustain vines capable of producing quality red and white wines.
Although primarily noted for its red wines, the cultivation of white grapes is not a new phenomena in Eger and the surrounding region; until the early 16th century, the region was dominated almost exclusively by white grape types.
However, over time, blue grape types (e.g.: kadarka) were introduced by Serbs seeking refuge from the Ottomans and soon wine produced from them dominated.
At present, close to 50% of the vineyards in the region are composed of white grapes, of many varieties, and, as there is no significantly dominant type, it was thought practical to create the new white wine, Egri Csillag from several grape types.
During the Vintners' Night of 10 February 2010, in the Gál Tibor Wine Cellar, wishing to breathe new life into the wine region, Eger winemakers resolved to create a white blend to complement Egri Bikavér.
It would be a uniform blend, yet still carry the unique personality of every winery – this is how Egri Csillag was born, the essence of which is, no matter who it is produced by, that the prominent characteristic is the area in which it is produced, the terroir.
Eger is the first place in the world where one can find a white wine region blend under a uniform brand name.
The key to the long-term success of Egri Csillag is that it is able to present something fresh and new. The producer may shape it to his liking, while conforming to one of the three categories (classicus, superior or grand superior).
Egri Csillag Cake. So established has the wine become that pastry chefs are already adding it to their creations.
Any wine going under the name Egri Csillag must conform to the following rules:
The wine is to be blended from at least four grape types, all of which must exceed 5% respectively but the wine of no single type may exceed 50%.
The use of one of the Carpathian Basin types – e.g. Woodcutter, Furmint, Linden Leaf, Irsai Olivér, Királyleányka, Leányka, Olaszrizling, Zefír, Zenit, Zengő – is obligatory, and, in the blend, the percentage of these types must reach 50 either alone or combined, with the blending percentage of the wine of Muscat types (e.g. Woodcutter, Irsai Olivér, Muscat Ottonel, Sárga Muskotály, Zefír) not exceeding 30% either respectively or combined.
With the above rules abided by, the use of other non-Carpathian Basin types (e.g. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Rheinriesling, Riesling-Szilváni) is permitted.
Many of Eger's winemakers are now blending Egri Csillag
When creating Egri Csillag, the Eger Vintners strive to make a white blend that carries the characteristic features of the wine region.
Its success is demonstrated by the fact that while in 2010 only eight wineries made wine under the name “Csillag”, their number the following year increased threefold. The first Egri Csillag Grand Superior appeared in 2012.
The cooperation of Eger winemakers and uniform presentation is further reinforced by the fact that every year their new Egri Csillag wines are introduced to the wider public on the same day, 15th March, thus, symbolising rejuvenation coinciding as it does with the coming of spring; the annual “Opening of the Stars” heralds the launch of the new vintage.