I had a chance to visit Chamlija’s tasting restaurant a while back. While there I learned that they produce so many more wines than those that make it to the Istanbul market, including the Chamlija Mavrud. Before our visit I had never heard of the Mavrud grape but I won’t forget it now.
Mavrud is a red wine grape that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines, indigenous to the region of Thrace in Bulgaria, particularly around the city of Plovdiv. The grape’s name is likely derived from the Greek word “mavro” which means black. However there’s a nice legend that goes with this grape which gives an alternate version of how the grape got its name:
In the early 9th century, the Bulgarian ruler Khan Krum forbade drinking alcohol and demanded that all vines in the country be uprooted. Krum’s army was undefeatable and one young man in particular excelled in battles. Upon return from yet another successful military campaign, Khan Krum decided to pay a visit to the mother of the brave young man to show her his respect about the way she had brought up her son. In response to his praise, the mother humbly replied: “Mighty Khan Krum, I need to confess something to you. Here in my backyard I kept a vine tree despite your orders. Every morning I was feeding my son wine and bread and that is why he came out to be such a strong man.” Instead of punishing her, Khan Krum allowed her to keep the vine tree and named it after her son. Needless to say, her son’s name was Mavrud.
The Mavrud bunch is large, winged and relatively heavy. The grapes themselves are small and spherical with thick and tough skin. Mavrud is a late ripening variety that needs warm temperatures. It does not do well in the cold. It is possibly the most highly prized (local) varietal in Bulgaria. And that leads to the question-why are we talking about a Bulgarian grape in connection to a Turkish winery?
Luckily that’s an easy question to answer. The Çamlıca family emigrated to Turkey from Kubadin, Razgrad, in northeastern Bulgaria. Mustafa Çamlıca is the third generation of the family to farm in Turkey’s Thracian region. He is also the founder and head of Chamlija Winery, one of the most prolific and quality wineries in the country.
I’ve only had Mavrud one other time, when I visited the Todoroff Winery in Bulgaria. Their Boutique Mavrud was my favorite of their wines. So how does Chamlija’s compare?
Chamlija Mavrud 2015 Tasting Notes:
Despite the rather serious, heavy-looking grape, my experience with Mavrud so far has been that it makes light to medium bodied wines. So it was not surprising that the Chamlija Mavrud (12% abv) followed suit. Mavrud takes well to oak; this vintage was aged for six months. While that might have helped tame some of the wine’s naturally high acidity, it didn’t kill it.
The nose was lovely; full of red and ripe fruits like strawberry, raspberry, and cherry highlighted by hints of milk chocolate. It might sound like I’m starting to describe everyone’s new favorite dessert but this is not a sweet wine. While milk chocolate mellowed the fruits in the nose, the flavors were all tart, juicy fruits. The palate hinted only a little at tannins but the floor show was all about the acid.
The bright, lively acid and juicy fruit flavors make this a fantastic choice for summer drinking. It’s a perfect barbecue day wine that’s not too heavy for summer drinking and which would pair really well from everything to grilled meats and cold pasta salads.