Category Archives: Wines by Grape

Wines categorized by their grape type(s)

Chateau Kalpak BBK 2011

Even before our trip to Chateau Kalpak with Em and AJ I’d had a few of their wines. One of them being the AWC Gold Medal winner BBK 2011.

Chateau Kalpak is the love child of Bülent Kalpaklıoğlu who began developing the vineyard in 2003. It was not until 2010 that he released his first vintage. His goal for Chateau Kalpak is to create a single chateau-style wine from a single vineyard. In order to achieve this, he picked the best root-stocks and clones of the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot to match the vineyard terrior.

Only two blends are released annually: Chateau Kalpak and BBK. They harvest, ferment, and age (30-36 months) each parcel (about 1 hectar) separately. At Chateau Kalpak they use Hungarian oak barriques made out of wood selected for their balance, bouquet, and character. This establishes the basis of their “Chateau Wine”. From their they spend months conducting extensive blend studies for the Chateau Kalpak label. The remaining wines are re-blended to create the BBK label.

BBK 2011

Chateau Kalpak’s story and process are absolutely worth a deeper look and I suggest checking out the website (link above). Bülent Bey elevates wine making to a form of fine art with his thoughtfulness and attention to detail. All of which has paid off for him. Not only does he make beautiful wine but he has the gold medals to prove it. Chateau Kalpak is the only vineyard in Turkey to win a three star rating (2014) from the International Wine Challenge (AWC) in Vienna. Additionally they received six gold and three silver medals from the AWC and three gold medals from the Concours Mondial Bruxelles.

Chateau Kalpak BBK 2011 Tasting Notes:

The BBK might be Chateau Kalpak’s second wine but that in no way means it’s an inferior wine. In fact personally I liked the BBK 2011 more than I did the same vintage Chateau Kalpak. A bold blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot with a 14.7% abv, the BBK 2011 is a wine to be taken seriously.

The nose is a dark, romantic mystery. Aromas of black fruit, baking spices, dark chocolate, and mocha wrap your senses like a silken cocoon. Beautifully balanced with velvety tannins, the BBK held us in thrall and continued to develop and open as we sank into its spell. In addition to the black fruits and dark chocolate from the nose; clove, vanilla, and caramel each vied for their turn to take center stage. The long finish lingered with flavors of smoke and a hint of meat.

We made a pilgrimage in that bottle and found the light. It might have been a brilliant ruby light, but we found it.

Pazo das Bruxas Albariño 2014

Spanish white wines are difficult to find in Istanbul; even in duty free. This Pazo das Bruxas Albariño was the only thing E&M could find the last time they came through. Considering how much I love Albariño though I was glad to have it!

The Pazo das Bruxas Albariño  is from Vino de la Familia Torres. For five generations the Torres family has been making wine in Spain. They have vineyards in eight DOs (Denominación de Origen) and two DOCa regions (Denominación de Origen Calificada).

Pazo das Bruxas Albariño

Sherlock photobomb!

Pazo das Bruxas is a wine that pays homages to the folklore and nature of Galicia, a land of immense forests inhabited by mystic and magical beings like the Galician witches. They lived in old country houses (pazos) where they conjured up spirits through magic and dance. And so the sap, the lifeblood, coursed through the vines, filling them with vitality. Just like the Albariño stock that gives life to Pazo das Bruxas.

E&M and I discussed the wine label possibly more than we did the wine (which was lovely). Put three Spanish speakers (one native) in a room with a Spanish bottle of wine and we all puzzled over the the label. E&M speak Colombian Spanish and I speak largely Mexican Spanish. Spain Spanish is a different animal but it was more than that. In the end we figured the label was written in either Galacian or Catalán. Galacian would make sense as the Rías Baixas DO, where the grapes were grown, is in Galacia. But the family seems to be Catalán (and the website is in Catalán).

Pazo das Bruxas Albariño

Pazo das Bruxas Albariño 2014 Tasting Notes:

A light weight wine in both alcohol (12% abv) and color (clear, pale straw yellow), this is a lively and lovely Albariño. It is so aromatic. Aromas of white flowers, citrus, minerals, and crushed gravel waft out of the glass  and wrap you in their perfume.

Very dry, balanced, with lovely acid and something of a short finish, the flavors are classic Rías Baixas Albariño.  Saline and minerals on the attack with the bright, happy flavors of grapefruit pith and citrus zest on the mid palate.

Delicate with a steel core I could almost believe that the witches of Galacia danced this wine into existence with their magic!

Arcadia Odrysia Narinca 2015

In the spring I attended an Arcadia wine tasting with Murat Mumcoğlu of Şarap Atölyesi. We tried a variety or red and white wines; one of which was the Odrysia Narince 2015. Wine made from Narince is not difficult to find; but finding one as special as the Odrysia is not easy.

Narince is a native Turkish grape. Originally from Tokat in Anatolia it is both a table grape and is used to make wine. “Narince” in Turkish means “delicately” which perfectly describes the wines it makes. Narince wines display sophisticated and elegant fruit flavors and are very ethereal and aromatic. They reveal aromas of orange, grapefruit, lime, white pineapple, quince, plumeria, acaccia, fruit blossom, basil, ripe green apple, and walnut.

In addition, the oh so popular grape leaf dishes in Turkish cuisine are made from Narince leaves. This actually presents an interesting conundrum for wine makers. While Arcadia cultivates its own Narince, not everyone does. Most Narince vineyards in Tokat are owned by independent vignerons. They then sell the grapes to viniculturists and the leaves to people who preserve them for food. The problem is that the leaves mature sooner than the grapes. As a result they’re harvested while the grapes are still maturing and desperately need canopy cover.

Odrysia

Father and daughter team Ozcan and Zeynep Arca established Arcadia Vineyards in 2007 to make and showcase terroir-driven wines from Northern Thrace. From planting the vines to vinifying the grapes, they insist on careful production methods and minimum intervention, so that their wines can express the unique terroir of their beautiful vineyards. Arcadia wines are all made from estate-grown fruit. In 35 hectares of vineyard they grow nine different types of grape: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, Sangiovese, Pinot Gris, Öküzgözü, and Narince.

Odrysia

Arcadia Odrysia Narinca 2015 Tasting Notes:

While Arcadia’s Odrysia is all delicate florals don’t let that fool you! At 13.5% abv this is still a serious white wine. Before bottling Arcadia put the Odrysia through only a limited filtration process. As a result the wine maintained its full aromas. The nose is very floral with perfumed plumeria floating above citrus, mineral, and quince.

Lively mouthwatering acid encourage the flavors to leap off your tongue. Citrus, lemon peel, plumeria, and yellow apple liberally flecked with minerals; like a lemon syllabub graced with a sprinkle of fleur de sal.

Gorgeous. I’ve had quite a few of Arcadia’s wines now and they have never let me down.

Seresin Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Recent trips to Rind have netted me a few bottles of New Zealand wine; including this 2013 Seresin Sauvignon Blanc. One of the world’s foremost wine experts, Oz Clarke, once said about New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that it is: “Arguably the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world.” Far be it for me to argue with the great Oz Clarke! Anyway in the this case I wouldn’t because I don’t disagree.

I have a tricky time with Sauvignon Blanc because my personal tastes lean towards the riper style that’s more stone fruit and less green in flavor. It’s not always easy to find those or to tell what style you’re going to get when buying from a producer you don’t already know. However there is nothing to not like in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with its zesty and lively acid and bright (typical) flavors of gooseberry, passion fruit, and citrus. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc might just be one of my favorite white wines period. The Seresin Sauvignon Blanc I picked up did not disappoint.

Seresin Sauvignon Blanc

Seresin Estate is located in the famous Marlborough wine growing area on  New Zealand’s South Island. They follow both organic and biodynamic viti and viniculture practices. For example when vinifying their wines the winemakers at Seresin Estate use only the natural wild yeasts already contained in grapes.

Seresin Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Tasting Notes:

Serensin’s Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (13% abv) is a blend of majority Sauvignon Blanc with a small kicker of Semillon. While the wines were largely aged in stainless steel; 15% received French oak ageing. Clear, pale gold in the glass the nose was aromatic and lovely with hints of grapefruit, gooseberry, and acacia flowers.  On the palate the acid was firm and zingy carrying lots of bright citrus flavors.

Seresin Sauvignon Blanc

M and I paired this with spicy, Cajun salmon and it was beautiful. Less beautiful was the wine with strawberry spinach salad. The citrus and acid of the wine did not at all get on with the sweetness of the berries. As long as we remembered to drink after bites of the spicy fish instead of the salad it was all good. I loved this wine and would happily drop 99TL for it again.

The Suvla Sur 2012

I have been lucky enough to try three different vintages of Suvla’s Sur: the 2010, 2011, and 2012. A few years ago I wrote about the 2010 and 2011 side by side so it’s time to tackle the Sur 2012. They’re all beautiful wines. I wish I could get one of each for a vertical tasting but I believe the 2010 is sold out. It hurts no one’s feelings though to drink the Sur 2012!

Suvla is a family owned wine producer. In 2003 Pınar Ellialtı and Selim Zafer Ellialtı established the winery in Eceabat. Because of their location along the Çanakkale Strait (also known as Dardanelles); they named the winery after a bay in the north coast of the Aegean Sea. In 2006 after the first harvest they named the main vineyard ‘Bozokbağ’ after their newborn son ‘Bozok’.

Sur 2012

The Suvla vineyards are nestled in the historical Peninsula of Gallipoli, between the North Aegean coast and the Sea of Marmara. They produce a wide variety of grapes. The whites include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, and Marsanne. The reds include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Grenache Noir, Petit Verdot, and Pinot Noir. In addition they also produce indigenous grape varieties, including Kınalı Yapıncak and Karasakız. In 2013 Suvla switched to organic viticulture and as a result received a certification of ‘Good Agriculture Practice – GAP’.

Sur 2012

Suvla Sur 2012 Tasting Notes:

The Sur 2012 is a Bordeaux blend of Merlot (73%), Cabernet Sauvignon (15%), Cabernet Franc (7%), and Petit Verdot (5%). After fermentation it spent 12 months in oak barriques before being bottled and released.

The Sur is a balance of power and elegance regardless of which vintage you get. At% abv there’s no denying the power certainly! Blackberry, spices, jalepeño, and mocha mingle in the nose. The palate is perfectly balanced with smooth, elegant tannins and mouthwatering acid, Sweet, ripe blackberries, black pepper, and mocha invite you on a romantic journey.

This is one of those wines you could drink in one sitting without noticing what you’ve done. The Suvla Pied Piper beckons you deeper into the bottle until you’ve drowned in it. Happy way to go!

Tzora Vineyards Or

Have you ever done something that you later really deeply regret? There have really been rather a lot of things I’ve regretted doing. However I feel that none were so deeply as felt as the mistake I made to share my half bottle of Tzora Vineyards Or.

We did not try the Or during our visit to Tzora. Had we I think I would have bought more than just the one half bottle! I knew I would like it because I love both Gewürztraminer in all its forms and dessert wine. I only bought one of the half bottles (they were not available in full bottle) because even with a 30 kilo weight limit I knew I had to moderate my wine purchases. Especially since Tzora was our first winery of the day.

When I got back to Istanbul I had over two of my best girlfriends to help me drink the Israeli wine and eat the cheese (4 kilos!) I bought. I broke out the Or at the end. After the first sip I was mentally smacking myself. Why did I share this?! Drinking the Tzora Vineyards Or is like holding spicy liquid gold on your tongue. I had only one tiny half bottle and I shared it.

Lesson learned. Be selfish.

Tzora Vineyards Or

Despite being somewhat significantly closer to the equator than are Germany and Austrian (home to Gewürztraminer) the grape seems to flourish in Israel. The Or is part of Tzora Vineyards‘ Shoresh line. The Gewürztraminer grapes used for this wine are grown in the Judean Hills at the highest point of the winery’s Shoresh vineyard; 700 meters. Perhaps it’s the elevation that allows the Gewürztraminer to develop so well here.

Although winemaker skill is not to be ignored here either. One key to producing excellent dessert wines is to balance the sweetness level with acid. Winemaker Eran Pick MW has done that brilliantly with the Or. And if you’re wondering how anyone manages to make ice wine in a warm country like Israel… The grapes are harvested late but are then artificially frozen before crushing.

Tzora Vineyards Or

Tzora Vineyards Or 2015 Tasting Notes:

‘Or’ is French for gold and there could not be a more appropriate name for Tzora’s sweet Gewürztraminer. For one thing the color! It’s a deep, brilliant gold. The nose is full of honey, apricots, and white peaches with a slight nuttiness. On the palate…wow. The Or is thick without being cloying and again flavors of honey and apricot that are joined by Gewürztraminer’s characteristic spiciness. Ginger I think.

Tzora Vineyards Or is everything a dessert Gewürztraminer should be. It’s simultaneously sweet and spicy and familiar and exotic. Truly a treat to drink. If you can get your hands on a bottle (limited production of 1,800 bottles!) don’t share like I did. Be selfish!

Chateau Nuzun 2009

Established in 2004, Chateau Nuzun is one of Turkey’s boutique wineries. Only an hour drive away (depending on the insanity level of traffic!) it is possibly the closest one to Istanbul. I’ve had a few of their wines over the years but the Chateau Nuzun 2009 blend was by far my favorite.

Chateau Nuzun is an organic vineyard located in Tekirdağ. The vineyards (in Çeşmeli) enjoy a terroir made up of gravel and sand stone soils over layers of compacted clay and breezes from the Marmara Sea (5 km away). Half of the estate is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon; one third with Merlot, and the remaining plots are Syrah and Pinot Noir. The Chateau Nuzun 2009 is a blend of the varietals planted there.

Chateau Nuzun 2009

Chateau Nuzun 2009 Tasting Notes:

Like its other wines the Chateau Nuzun 2009 blend is organic. The wine spent about 13 months in French oak and then another year in the bottle before being released. So no wonder this vintage will set you back about 100 TL give or take. It’s also unfiltered so I recommend decanting over a candle. I didn’t get a lot of sediment at all but better safe than sorry! Because if you’ve ever accidentally swallowed a mouthful of sediment you know that is not pleasant.

In the glass this super blend is a dark, opaque ruby. The nose was super involved. We got black pepper, jam, blackberry, black currant leaf, violets, cinnamon, and vanilla. You can tell that I broke out the Aromaster kit with this one! The palate was all velvety tannins, well-balanced, with a nice, somewhat jammy finish. The flavors followed from the nose especially the fruit, vanilla, and baking spices.

This was a really nice wine, absolutely worth the price tag.

Domaine Skouras Dum Vinum Sperum 2009

On a recent trip to Athens to visit my friends E&M I had the chance to try a lot of Greek wine. Almost as soon as I dropped off my luggage at their apartment they whisked me off to their local wine shop. Faced with the somewhat overwhelming task of selecting wine; I braved an alphabet I only half understand and shelf upon shelf to pick out a few bottles. One that I could not resist was this Domaine Skouras Dum Vinum Sperum.

I knew it was a Chardonnay, which I usually shy away from, but I couldn’t resist it. And while the label was one of the most simple, stark examples we saw; it was powerful. “Dum Vinum Sperum” At first glance my assumption was that this was Latin for: “While there’s wine I hope.” But then I really looked at it and was confused. The Latin for “I hope” should be “spero” not “sperum”. However my Latin is pretty rudimentary and really only gets me through Mass so I called in the bug guns. I checked this with a cousin of mine who, as a Biblical scholar is well versed in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and a is all sorts of scary smart. “Sperum” isn’t a word in Latin.

I will continue to live under the assumption that they were going for “While there’s wine I hope” but if anyone knows what’s really going on I’d love to hear from you!

Dum Vinum Sperum

Domaine Skouras is the love child of George Skouras. In 1980 he went to Dijon to study agriculture but fell under the spell of Burgundian wines. He switched paths and, after graduating with a degree in oenology established his winery in 1986. Domaine Skouras is located in the Northeastern Peloponnese. The winery is situated within the Nemea zone, the largest Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for red wines in Greece.

At Domaine Skouras the focus on purity, clarity of variety, tracing the region’s mesoclimate, and terroir drives the philosophy behind their wine making. The Dum Vinum Sperum 2009 is a perfect example. Grown in the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Peloponnese (part of the PDO Nemea) this 100% Chardonnay is reflective of Domain Skouras’s philosophy.

Dum Vinum Sperum

Domaine Skouras Dum Vinum Sperum 2009 Tasting Notes:

I am shy around Chardonnay and the dark gold of this wine had me worried. The nose just about knocked us all down. Intense aromas of burnt sugar-like the top of a creme brulee-leapt out of the glass. We had nothing on hand that I could use as a decanter which is a shame*.  If ever a white wine needed some breathing room I think this one did. None of us got any hints of fruit but burrowing under that burnt sugar were hints of flowers and mineral.

If we thought the nose was a kick in the face we should have been better prepared for what would happen when we drank it. A powerful attack of burnt sugar and vanilla stunned us all at first. It wasn’t until a tentative second sip that we detected some of the more delicate flavors of honeysuckle in the finish.

We were split right down the middle on this. Em and I were not huge fans. I kept drinking out of fascination more than anything. E will drink just about anything you set in front of her but M really loved it.

This might not be the first wine to pop into my head the next time I want a Chardonnay; but I think Dum Vinum Spero is my new motto!

*Yes! White wines also benefit from decanting and breathing!

Paşaeli Sofuköy Yapıncak 2015

In November I attended another wine tasting lead by Şarap Atölyesi‘s Murat Mumcuoğlu at the Historic Pano Wine House in Istanbul. We tasted eight wines all by winemakers Paşaeli and Selendi. I’ve long been a Paşaeli fan and was really looking forward to this.

The first wine we tasted was the 2015 Paşaeli Sofuköy Yapıncak. Unfortunately I have no pictures of my own of this wine so I’m borrowing one from London’s alternative wine merchant Red Squirrel Wine.

Kınalı yapıncak is a native Turkish grape but not a very common one. In fact other than Paşaeli the only other winemaker here cultivating it is my old friend Suvla.

Sofuköy Yapıncak

Photo credit: Red Squirrel Wine, London

Yapıncak takes oak well but is not always treated with it. Paşaeli’s Sofuköy 2015 (the village where the vineyard is located) was largely fermented in stainless steel tanks with a portion aged ‘sure lie’ in oak barrels. ‘Sur lie’ means ‘on the lees’. Lees are the extra yeast particles in wine left after the completion of the fermentation process. Many white and sparkling wines are allowed to age with these particles as they add a creaminess to the texture along with aromas of toast, bread, cheese, and sweet, nutty aromas. For a full description of the ‘sure lie’ method check out this great article by Wine Folly.

Tasting notes 2015  Sofuköy Yapıncak:

So after that long intro…what about the Sofuköy Yapıncak? It won’t surprise anyone that I prefer my Yapıncak wines unoaked so this is never going to be a favorite wine of mine. In the nose this lemony yellow wine had a lot of fruit, citrus, and vanilla. The palate was rather too acidic for my taste but still with a creamy butteriness and a lot of sharp lemon, mineral, and floral flavors.

I let this sit a little bit and it really benefited, for me, from the chance to breathe and mellow. The flavors became rounder, the lemon softened and the flowers and vanilla were much more pronounced.

Todoroff Thracians Mystery

I bought this bottle of 2010 Thracians Mystery Cabernet Sauvignon when E and I were at Todoroff in Bulgaria. I could see E rolling her eyes at me when I bought a bottle for myself and another for M…but look at this bottle! How could I not buy something this ridiculously fabulous?! There’s a ‘medal’ glued onto it above a ‘gold’ (aka colored tin) label.

Thracian's Mystery

Honestly I opened this pretty hesitantly. Something that needs this much make up couldn’t possibly be very good, right?

Thracian's Mystery

Todoroff Thracians Mystery Tasting Notes:

This 2010 Thracians Mystery was a pretty hefty Cabernet Sauvignon with 14.5% abv. Aged in new oak, it’s a limited production from Todoroff. The winery made only 13,000 bottles of the 2010.

I was not expecting much from this but was pleasantly surprised. Although it turns out that E&M (who will drink almost anything) really did not like it. Such are the vagaries of individual tastes!

Dark inky purple in the glass, the wine looked as ‘mysterious’ shall we say and imposing as the ornate bottle. The nose was very typical of Cabernet Sauvignon with lots of red fruits, pepper, baking spices, vanilla, and cocoa. I found the palate to be balanced with smooth, round tannins, and a long finish. It was also more complex than I was expecting. Initial flavors of red fruits and baking spices gave way to caramel and smoke.