On our second day on Bozcaada we shared a fantastic Turkish breakfast with our hosts that included products from the island and their own gardens as well my new obsession: tomato jam. But tomato jam Turkish style which means they were whole, kind of candied tomatoes in sugar syrup.Apparently they’re soaked in lye to give them their crunchy texture?
After breakfast we headed for our first wine adventure of the day-to the Amadeus Winery. Amadeus is owned by an Austrian man who grew up in Turkey who turned a family hobby into a business. I was very luckily to be able to talk to the owner for a while about his philosophy behind wine making and the processes he uses. At Amadeus they do not age wine in oak. Partially because of the expense-barrels are not cheap but also because while oak imparts flavor components to wine, it also takes away some of the natural flavors of the fruit. At Amadeus they prefer wines that are more fruit forward so at most they use wood chips in some of their wines.
From Amadeus we headed into town. Bozcaada reminds me a lot of Mykonos which, given the historic Greek population, isn’t really surprising. The town is separated into two parts, the part that used to be all Greek and the part that used to be all Turkish. The Turkish side is organized typically, in that it’s not; streets and buildings are laid out all higgledy-piggledy. The Greek side in contrast is laid out in very precise grids (however only because that side of town was lost in a fire and a visiting American made a city plan for them).
In our wanderings around town we ended up at Talay, the owners of the vineyard we hiked through the previous day. Talay produces a pretty wide range of wines but I’d never heard of them before. Since my trip I’ve noticed one or two bottles at La Cave but Talay is not a widely known name. They have a very laid-back island attitude in regards to advertising: people who we know who we are will drink Talay. Happily I was there on the island to try some of them. I went away with a bottle of the Cabernet Sauvignon because it took me a full 10 minutes to figure out the (to me) most outstanding flavor: green pepper. I can’t believe it took me that long to put my finger on what it was but I have never had a Cabernet with such a clear green flavor like that.
After our visit to Talay it was back to Lavender Breeze Farm where I was put through my paces on a blind tasting of the house wines. I had two tasks:
1. Identify which was the Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon
2. Match them to three other glasses of Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon
I failed miserably. Miserably!! To be fair even my host seemed a little confused as to which was which. In any case there was a lot of laughter and fun. I need to start practicing this skill at home!
You would think that I would really love a wine maker who generally does not use oak and who lives by the fantastic motto of “Life is a Cabernet” would be one of my favorite makers-unfortunately not so. I’ve had a very up and down relationship with Amadeus and while I thought I liked a couple of their wines well enough to buy them and haul them home, I think I might have been partially under an island influence, making me perceive them more favorably than I normally would.
Quite some time ago I tried the Amadeus 2012 Cuvee and really did not like. Really did not like it a lot. And yet while at Amadeus I rather did like the 2015. Did I like it as much when I got it home and was no longer under a possible situational influence?
I actually rather did. I mean I only paid 30 TL for the bottle directly from Amadeus and I think it’s a decent 30 TL bottle. Would I have liked it if I’d paid twice or more that amount at a shop in Istanbul? No.
The Cuvee Rouge is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. In addition to not aging wines in oak, Amadeus also doesn’t filter its wine (again in order to keep as much of the fruit flavor as possible) but despite that the wine was a nice, clear red-no cloudiness. In the nose it was very dark cherries, cacoa, vanilla, and coffee. On the palate it’s a medium-bodied wine with some soft tannins. Lots of red fruit and coffee flavors with a slightly sweet undertone from the vanilla. It went very nicely with strong Turkish cheeses.
The 2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (also 30 TL directly from Amadeus) was also a decent wine for 30 TL. Like the Cuvee Rouge it’s a medium-bodied wine, so it’s not your typical big, full Cab.
There’s lots of heavy spices in the nose including green peppercorn and I think some jalapeno. Once you get past that you’re treated to both black and dried fruits like prune and a little baking spice from the oak chips used in the aging. On the palate smooth tannins accentuate the fruit and pepper flavors giving you a pretty decent drinking experience. Although like the Cuvee Rouge-a decent 30 TL drinking experience.