Category Archives: Boğazkere

Wines made from Boğazkere grapes

A Tasting of Yanık Ülke

I was recently lucky enough to be invited to the Galata Anemon hotel for a tasting of Yanık Ülke wines.

Yanık Ülke  was established by the Akçura family on the rocky volcanic slopes of the Divlit Volcano near Izmir. The terroir in that area is volcanic and similar to that of Mount Etna in Italy. They have 150 hectares (60 under vine) located at 924 meters above sea level. Their site boasts not only vineyards planted with an interesting variety of grapes but also a hotel and onsite restaurant.

Yanık Ülke

Yanık Ülke plants only old favorites such as Muscat, Chardonnay, Viognier, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Boğazkere, and Öküzgözü. They are also the only vineyard in Turkey, to my knowledge, cultivating Cataratto, Gewürtzraminer, Nerello Cappucchio,  and Nerello Mascalese. 

Yanık Ülke Gewurtztraminer

Vineyard manager Çağrı Kurucu lead our tasting of eight Yanık Ülke wines including: Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Viognier, Nerello Mascalese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Miratus, and Serendipity.

Yanık Ülke Viognier

Yanık Ülke Chardonnay Tasting Notes:

This is a nice, light Chardonnay from Yanık Ülke, perfect for people like me who don’t like a lot of oak in their white wines. A bright, medium lemon in color and a medium intense nose of sweet florals and tropical fruits. Medium-bodied with a medium plus finish the wine is generally well-balanced. It finish rather warm and really shows off both Chardonnay’s characteristic tropical fruits and the distinctive minerality from volcanic soils.

Yanık Ülke Viognier 2016 Tasting Notes:

I am unabashedly a fan of Viognier. I first discovered this grape while living in DC as several Virginia wineries are doing great things with it. Here in Turkey there are fewer options with my favorites being from Kayra and Chamlija so it’s nice to add Yanık Ülke to the line up (which also includes wines from Selendi and Kastro Tireli).

A lovely light but intense lemon color, Yanık Ülke’s Viognier has a delicate but aromatic nose filled with white flowers, yellow apple, mineral, and ripe fruits. A very soft mouthfeel and elegant fruit flavors make this an ideal wine as an aperitif or for summer sipping!

Yanık Ülke

Yanık Ülke Gewürztraminer 2016 Tasting Notes:

I am not going to lie; this was my favorite of the whites. As far as I’m aware Yanık Ülke is the only winery here currently experimenting with Gewürztraminer. This is one of my favorite white wine grapes so I was very excited for this.

Do not let the delicacy of this wine fool you! At 14% abv it’s bigger than it seems. The nose is aromatic; white flowers, ripe stone fruits, and tropical fruits. Sur lie aging lends a lightly creamy mouthfeel here carrying the warm peach flavors to a long finish. Don’t get this thinking you’ll be drinking a German or French Gewürztraminer; this is an entirely Turkish Gewürztraminer!

Yanık Ülke Nerello Mascalese

Yanık Ülke Nerello Mascalese 2015 Tasting Notes:

Nerello Mascalese is another grape that I’ve seen only from Yanık Ülke in Turkey. For good reason. This native Italian grape is best known for being cultivated on Mount Etna so Yanık Ülke’s volcanic soil is the perfect place in Turkey for it.

This bright, plum-purple wine has a fruity nose. Rich, full of forest fruits, sweet spices, and vanilla. The palate surprises with a little more attitude from this unoaked, medium-bodied wine. The slight bite of black pepper keeps it from veering too far into jammy territory and compliments the fruit flavors well.

Yanık Ülke Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Tasting Notes:

This Cabernet was aged in both French and (majority) American oak and I think Yanık Ülke has reached a good balance of the two in their blending. The different oak influences are obvious while being harmonious. The nose carries opulent red fruits, sweet spices, cinnamon, and hints of leather and perfumed violet. Fruit-forward on the palate with soft, round tannins and a slightly bitter, green stem finish.

Yanık Ülke Serendipity

Yanık Ülke Serendipity 2015 Tasting Notes:

Serendipity is Yanık Ülke’s Bordeaux blend. A coupage of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc makes it a classic blend. There was a prodigious use of oak in this blend. The Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot were aged in old oak and the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot aged in new oak prior to blending. Perhaps the wine needs more bottle or breathing time but for me this was a little like drinking oak syrup. Nose and palate are heavy with caramel, vanilla, baking spices and cooked fruits.

Yanık Ülke Shiraz Reserve 2014 Tasting Notes:

Yanık Ülke’s Shiraz Reserve is intensely purple-ruby color. I found the nose to be very floral initially giving way to big clove aromas with the fruit being almost an afterthought. The palate at this point is still a little unbalanced. Like the Serendipity it needs a little more time and patient decanting. The tannins are quite aggressive and there’s an acrid green stem flavor up front. The clove is very pronounced on the palate which I enjoyed.

Yanık Ülke Miratus

Yanık Ülke Miratus Oak Blend 2015 Tasting Notes:

When they told us that the Miratus was the ‘oak blend’ I was frankly a little terrified. After the oaky syrup flavors I got in the Serendipity I wasn’t sure what to expect from this blend of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Bogazkere, and Shiraz. Despite my initial trepidation I rather enjoyed this one. But first-what do they mean by oak blend? Each variety is oak aged prior to blending as usual, but the wine is aged in oak again after blending as well. The Miratus spends a total of two to three years in total. You can definitely smell the oak. There’s little subtlety as you’re all but swamped with aromas of vanilla, baking spices, and cooked fruit. However the wine finds its balance on the palate where hints of black pepper cut through the oak providing an interesting edge. The flavors are also a lot brighter than I expected after the nose giving the impression of a wine that is rich with round tannins, red fruits, sweet spices, and pepper.

Overall this was a really interesting look into Yanık Ülke. It seems they are doing some interesting things; not the least of which is cultivating grapes otherwise not seen in Turkey. I’m looking forward to getting to know this producer better.


2013 Turasan Öküzgözü Boğazkere

It’s been ages since I’ve had an Öküzgözü Boğazkere blend. As much as I enjoy trying the native grape wines in Turkey drinking the same three reds (Öküzgözü, Boğazkere, and Kalecik Karası) and blends of the same does get old. I was, however, only too happy to take up a friend on her offer of a glass of the Turasan Öküzgözü Boğazkere that she brought to a Thirsty Thursday event.

Turasan OB

In the glass the Turasan Öküzgözü Boğazkere was a ruby red bordering on purple, bright and clear. The nose was dark/black fruits. On the palate it was very tart, no tannin, and little bit of a cliffhanger; something of a surprise for anything involving the powerful Boğazkere grape. It was a predominantly fruit-forward wine with flavors of blackberry and cherry but those dropped off quickly leaving very light hints of spice and possibly pine forest.

There’s nothing technically wrong with the 2013 Turasan Öküzgözü Boğazkere. If your preference is easily drinkable, unchallenging wines then this is right up your alley. For me, I like something more complex and structured.

Kayra Buzbağ Reserve Öküzgözü Boğazkere

Kayra Buzbağ Reserve Öküzgözü Boğazkere

Now that my neighbor has turned me on to wines made in Elazığ I’m more and more on the look out for them. Kayra, as mentioned previously, is one of the largest makers in that region and M, who really just likes to say “Öküzgözü” picked up this bottle of the 2012 Kayra Buzbağ Reserve Öküzgözü Boğazkere not too long ago.

This dark, plummy red colored wine has definitely benefited from the 24 months it spent in French oak which is obvious in the clove, cardamom, and leather scents that I got from the nose. Combined with the plum, black mulberry, and dried fruit aromas the Kayra Buzbağ Reserve Öküzgözü Boğazkere had a very promising start.

The Kayra Buzbağ Reserve Öküzgözü Boğazkere has some nice tannins in the mouth from the Boğazkere grapes were well-matched with a medium acid, however there was only a very slight finish. However slight, the finish had a flavor profile all of its own with hints of toast, toffee, and maybe walnuts? More legacies of its oaking.

As I’m describing it I feel a little romantic and thinking, “Wow! This was amazing! Toast! Toffee! Cardamom!” The reality was less enticing. It was nice, I’m not hating on this one, but it wasn’t as fabulous as I make it sound. A solid food wine it compliments meat and grilled food well but is not something I would choose for just drinking. So far my experience with Kayra’s wines has me preferring the Vintage and Versus labels.

Kocabağ Boğazkere

The 2013 Kocabağ Boğazkere

Funny story. Also kind of embarrassing…while I was in Cappadocia with my brother I was determined to visit the Turasan Winery which is just 10 kilometers from where we were staying. My brother was up for being dragged along so off we went to Urgup. After a really nice lunch we headed up a steepish hill and zig zagged through some street construction until we arrived at a şarap evi (wine house). It didn’t say Turasan but according to the crappy GPS on my phone we were where we were supposed to be.

Yeah, no. We weren’t where we were supposed to be. But I just shrugged and went with it. While they did have a few Turasan wines on the shelf we’d found a selling point for Kocabağ which was a name I didn’t recognize. The gentleman in the shop confirmed that it’s mostly sold locally and very few of their wines make it to Istanbul. So wrong shop but yay for learning something new. I was also thrilled to see not one, not two, but FOUR Emir varietal wines. FOUR. Before that moment I thought Turasan were the only ones making Emir varietals.

We’re talking about one of the Emirs today though (I bought three!) but about the 2013 Kocabağ Boğazkere.

In the glass the Kocabağ Boğazkere was a beautiful blue-violet, deep purple which I have recently learned is an indicator of low acid. The nose, which I really liked was full of black and dried fruits, raspberry, mulberry, clove, and a little leather.

After having my expectations built up by the lovely nose I felt rather let down by the wine’s flavor. It was a little on the side and with much lower tannins than I generally expect from a Boğazkere. That said, the black fruits, black mulberry, chocolate, and leather flavors and lingering finish didn’t exactly hurt my feelings.

Because it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be I would categorize this as a food wine. In fact it went beautifully with pork salamis and Parmesan (but NOT with sharp cheddar and green apples-lesson learned there).  In the end I give it 3 stars (on a Turkish wine scale).

Arra Saranda

The 2014 Arra Saranda Blend

I had a while back at a Pop Up event.  At Pop Up you bring your own wine and, as I’ve seen this bottle around a lot but had yet to buy it myself I was happy to share my neighbor’s bottle. Unfortunately I was already in the bottle I’d brought so my notes from this are somewhat less than super helpful…

The 2014 Arra Saranda (a sub label of Vino Dessera) blend is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and the “throat burning” Boğazkere I love so much. It’s ruby red color was a little clearer and brighter than I would expect from a blend of these particular grapes. On the nose I got a lot of fruit-mostly red and tart fruits so I’m reading between the lines of my inebriated notes that there were probably cranberry, red currant, and/or cherry notes.*

On the palate it was very juicy and tart, lots of cranberry and cherry but beyond that the flavor was pretty thin; I couldn’t detect anything under the fruit. Low tannins, medium acid, and a medium finish only increased the feeling that I was drinking Ocean Spray mixed with alcohol.

And yet…I’m not saying it was bad. My barely legible notes indicated that I might have kinda liked it. Given that I wasn’t exactly in top tasting form when I had the Arra Saranda I think I would like to try it again under more controlled circumstances.

*Be careful that you don’t smell so deeply it goes up your nose. And if it does be discreet about how you solve your problem…

Yazgan Boğazkere

The 2013 Yazgan Boğazkere

Recently, my favorite wine blog, Winefolly, posted 99 Reasons to Drink. As much as I revere Winefolly, I think she missed a few so I thought I’d add my 2 cents!

100. You got fun new wine glasses.
101. You got a new book about wine.

102. You actually read the new book about wine.
103. You have cheese.
104. You found a new winery.
105. Because it goes well with classic black & white films.
106. Because it improves the view.

107. Because you need space on your wine wrack.
108. Because red is your favorite color.
109. Because white is your favorite color.
110. And lest we forget…because it’s scrummy!

Now for the Yazgan Boğazkere.

Unfortunately this is one of those wines that I drank ages ago but it got back burnered for a post because I was doing all whites over the summer. My notes were pretty sparse and I don’t remember it very well…but I do remember that I did not like it well enough to buy another bottle and do a tasting refresher.

Dark fruits, cherries, and spice lend the nose of the Yazgan Boğazkere characteristics as dark as its garnet color. On that palate it did have the nice tannins I expect from a Boğazkere which is always nice. One of the reasons I love Boğazkeres is the medium high tannins they usually have so the odd time I get a bottle that doesn’t have those is very disappointing.

A little sour (yeasty maybe) at first but it softened as it opened and the tannins smoothed out, becoming round and velvety.  Flavor-wise though my overwhelming impression was cherries: dark cherries, sour cherries, just lots and lots of cherries. Not, however, in a fruit-wine way.

While not a huge winner with me and unlikely to reappear on my wine rack (I just went to Ikea again to get another one) again, the 2013 Yazgan Boğazkere was still a decent wine. I don’t remember how much I paid for it but I think you’re better off going to the Suvla shop for their Boğazkere (under 30TL).

Suvla Boğazkere

The 2014 Suvla Boğazkere

We know I love Suvla but I love Suvla even more now than before because they are now producing  a Boğazkere, an Öküzgöz, and a Boğazkere-Öküzgözü blend. I am so thrilled I’m practically dancing. While I can’t wait to try them all, this week we’re talking about the Boğazkere.

Boğazkere grapes are dark and often produce purply-red wines and the Suvla followed form. In the nose I thought I detected liquorice, berries, clove, and maybe some eucalyptus. It’s a nice nose. I often find with good wines that I become so immersed enjoying the nose that it’s a little while before get own to drinking. Someone should be making candles that smell like wine. Is anyone on this?*

On the palate the Suvla Boğazkere isn’t as “throat burnery” as the name suggests but the leather, clove, black mulberry, and blackberry flavors are gorgeous. Nice amount of tannins, acid that balances well with the tannins and flavors, and a long finish combine to create a wine that is not only very scrummy, but that is also an excellent example of what Boğazkere grapes are capable of.

A bottle of this won’t break the bank either. The 2014 Suvla Boğazkere retails for somewhere around 30TL (in a Suvla store-anywhere else will carry an ofttimes significant mark up).

*In fact yes-people are on this! Rewined Candles which offers quite a few wine scents including sangria and Winewicks which has a more limited variety of scents. If I’m not going to drink Merlot or Chardonnay the likelihood of my wanting to smell them are pretty low…


Yanık Ülke 2013 Strabon

During my buying spree at Sensus they gifted me with a half bottle of Yanık Ülke 2013 Strabon which is a Boğazkere, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot blend. It’s like a personal bottle of wine! Well, who am I trying to kid? All bottles of wine, regardless of size, are personal sized for me!

The dark, dark, dense red color matched the hot, spicy, smokey nose to perfection. And wow it’s got some legs.

What are “legs” anyway? When I first started drinking wine I always looked for them during the swirl stage thinking, erroneously, that they were an indication of quality. Legs are actually an indication of the amount of alcohol in a wine (lots and lots of legs) or with sweeter wines legs that flow more slowly and stickily down the inside of the glass. Considering the hotness in the nose it wasn’t really a surprise that this wine had so many legs it could likely run faster than I can.

Although to be fair, just about anytime can run fast than I can.

On the palate the Strabon has some nice tannins, less acid than I expected given the hotness, and lingers well. Flavors of clove and tobacco possibly with some red fruits, however the fruit flavors didn’t come through a whole lot for me so I’m not too confident on that note.

Since this was a gift on my way out of the shop I did not get a look at the price, but I’d probably drink it again. I can’t say it was fantastic or outstanding but neither did I want to spit it out. 2.8 stars.

Gordias Boğazkere

The 2012 Gordias Boğazkere

I fell a little in love with Gordias wines previously after trying the Kalecik Karası and Narınce. Then one afternoon in Sensus Galata I found MORE. More Gordias wines! Including a Gordias Boğazkere (55TL) and the “throat burner” Turkish grape has long been a favorite.

I really let the anticipation on this one build and took some time to enjoy the deep, purply red color. Then on to the nose; what is that? Seriously it took me about 10 minutes to figure out what I was smelling. It was so familiar but at the same time utterly elusive-until it hit me; pine forests and leather.

The nose is replete with pine forest and leather with berry undertones. It was fascinating. Not in a, I couldn’t stop inhaling long enough to drink way, but in an I said “This is fascinating” and smiled every time I inhaled way.

There is a lot of leather in the Gordias Boğazkere mouth, nice medium tannins, and a long finish. At first it was a little acidy for me but it opened beautifully to bring up more leather, dark cherries, and chocolate.

Drinking this wine was a true shpadoinkel moment. It is beautiful. In a way every sip weirded me out a little because of the pine and sometimes overwhelming leather (frankly it was a little bit like being back at my dad’s farm sitting in the tack barn which is surrounded by Christmas trees). I still really liked it though. I will definitely buy this again.

Especially since the Gordias Boğazkere pairs so beautifully with foods I like: tomatoes, salt, strong cheese, and the magical truffled almonds from Trader Joe’s that my bestest friend and co-blogger Lauren sent me from the US. She sent me a 6 ounce bag last Christmas and I have managed to conserve them by eating only a few at a time. There are still a few left! However I no longer have to be so parsimonious because she bought me two more bags!

Urla Vourla

The 2011 Urla Vourla

Urla is a new winery to me, I haven’t noticed this one before so when I saw the 2011 Urla Vourla at Comedus (59TL) I had to get it. I’m always on the lookout for a new wine maker here.

A nice solid red color gave way to a truly lovely nose filled with dark fruits and berries.

In the mouth this blend of Boğazkere, Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon was pretty bold. The Vourla has a large, dense flavor supported by velvety tannins followed by a long finish. The one slightly off note to the body was that it was oddly thick. Which was really rather off-putting.

On the attack the Urla Vourla was like a mouth full of berries, big, fruity, and a little jammy which is something to which I never object. However…there always has to be a however…the finish is clearly alcoholic. Both M and I really liked the wine overall, as long as we swallowed quickly. The longer we held it in our mouths the more obvious the burn.

The Urla Winery is named after the region where the vineyards are located (in Urla in case that wasn’t obvious). Apparently I’ve really missed out by not visiting, it looks like it’s gorgeous. They produce quite a few wines that all look very intriguing; intriguing and, aside from the Vourla, expensive. These are wines that I’ll have to think about before I buy; although I’m fairly certain that they’ll be worth the sticker shock.