Kovacs Nimrod Winery, based in Eger, Hungary, offers wine drinkers whites and reds, varietals and blends made from well-known French and traditional Hungarian grapes. Black Sea Wines spoke with Mr. Nimrod Kovacs, the owner of the winery. Born in Hungary, Mr. Kovacs moved to the United States where he lived for over twenty years and became an advertising and telecommunications executive. During his international business travels, he developed a love for wine and a self-described ‘California taste.’ Kovacs decided to return to his native Hungary and invest in, among others, the Eger-based Monarchia winery. He retired from the telecommunications industry and became the proprietor of the winery which now bears his name.
BSW: We read your website. Can you elaborate on the story of how you became involved in winemaking?
NK: I was an investor in Hungarian wine, through the Monarchia merchant company for 10 years, which also oversaw the Monarchia winery in Eger. Two years ago, I left the corporate world and bought out the winery. It became my pet project. Eger is similar to Burgundy and Northern Rhone. We have three tracts of land in the region where we grow grapes.
BSW: Tell us about your collection of wines.
NK: We are still refining our wines and moving to the next phase of quality. At the top of the pyramid, is the Nagy Eged hill with its Grand Cru characteristics where, we are trying to take lessons from designers like Armani and Versace by creating high quality, haute couture, unique, not mass market wines. Furmint and NJK are our two, top of the line, Grand Cru type wines so far. We are also working on some more reds from Nagy Eged, such as Pinot Noir, Kekfrankos, Syrah and Cab Franc, which will come out in a few years time.
In the middle of the pyramid are the Estate Selection wines including our 2007 Battonage Chardonnay, 2007 Pinot Noir and 2008 Syrah. The Pinot Noir is in made in an international style. It’s fruity, luscious and big with a nice body. Our Syrah is a fruity and peppery, Cote de Rotie style.
We are also developing everyday wines called EGRI for the bottom of the pyramid with purchased grapes that will sell at hypermarkets and large retail outlets for less than $10 a bottle.
BSW: We don’t grow Furmint in the States and it is not available in much of Western Europe. What is your Furmint like? Sweet? Dry?
NK: Our Furmint from Nagy Eged is a complex wine with aromas and flavors of pear and apricot with some flinty overtones and with a long finish. 2009 was our first year for the Furmint and we produced only 480 bottles. It’s a very nice wine and is more subdued and fruity than the Tokaj.
BSW: What should we look for in 2011 from Kovacs Nimrod winery?
NK: In March 2011, from our Estate selection, we introduced the 2008 Battonage Chardonnay which is more subtle and elegant than the 2007. Also, around September, we will bring out, our Estate Selection 2007 Kekfrankos. Finally, around Christmastime, we will offer two limited productions wines from Nagy Eged, the 2010 Furmint (1200 bottles) and the 2008 Kekfrankos (300 bottles). The Kekfrankos has been harvested from the very top of the Nagy Eged Hill (500 meters) which is the highest Kekfrankos terroir in Hungary.
BSW: Where can we buy your wines?
We sell in neighboring countries especially in Germany, Czech Republic and Poland, and of course, all over Hungary. We just shipped 5000 bottles to the US. I also am a 33% partner in Starry Night Winery, based in San Rafael, California who will help in the distribution of Kovacs Nimrod Wines in the USA.
BSW: Are there other wines in Central and Eastern Europe that you like or find interesting?
NK: There are many fine wineries in Hungary. From Eger, St. Andrea has great wines. Zoltan Demeter makes sophisticated wines in Tokaj. Istvan Szepsy is also a great winemaker in Tokaj. From Villany, Attila Gere and Sauska make nice wines. From the Szekszard region, Takler wines are big and luscious.
Black Sea Wines thanks Mr. Kovacs for his time and participation. You can find out more about Nimrod Kovacs Wines at www.kovacsnimrodwinery.com.