Category Archives: Cabernet Franc

Wines made with Cabernet Franc grapes

Kastro Tireli Karkaia 2013

I haven’t yet dived fully into Kastro Tireli’s wines. Outside of the Narince-Viognier I previously reviewed I’ve only also had this Karkaia, a Bordeaux-blend style wine. However I’m so pleased to see that their wines are pretty widely available now. Especially as I’m a fairly lazy individual and still haven’t made it to their storefront in Bebek.

Committed to quality over quantity, Kastro Tireli, which began planting in 2004, does everything by hand. The winery is also dedicated to organic viticulture. If you cannot visit them in Akhisar and want a bigger experience than just picking up something in the bottle shop-head to Bebek. And then mock me with how great your experience was. Maybe then I’ll stop being lazy and finally make a visit!


Kastro Tireli Karkaia 2013 Tasting Notes:

The Kastro Tireli Karkaia is a big, bold blend of traditional Bordeaux grapes. This beautiful, deep ruby wine combines not only Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but also Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

The alcohol is quite high (14.9%!) so you’ll want to give this some breathing time or otherwise aerate it. Without the benefit of breathing the nose is initially quite tight and alcoholic. However once it does have a chance to settle, the nose is redolent with fruit and spice. Black fruits (black currant, blackberry, and black plums) are mingle with vanilla and sweet, baking spices. It’s saved from being too sweet any syrupy by a zing of green bell pepper. Beautiful, round tannins support rich fruits and spices on the palate.

Overall the Karkaia is a well-balanced and elegant wine that only increases my estimation of Kastro Tireli as a whole. I look forward to trying more of their wines!

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.

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!

A Visit to Flam Winery

Some time ago I posted a review of Flam’s Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Since I was able to visit the Flam Winery, located outside Jerusalem. While there I tasted wines, bought wines, and got to meet the charming founder and owner, Israel Flam.

Flam Winery

Flam Winery is a family business. Israel’s wife, two sons, and daughter are all involved in the business. They planted their vineyards in the Upper Galilee and Judean Hills. Like many Israeli wineries Flam shares a dedication to creating terroir-driven, quality wines.

They insist on low-yield harvests that are then hand harvested and sorted. Established in 1998 Flam emphasizes quality over quantity. This is especially evident in the winery’s annual production numbers. Flam continues to produce a limited amount every year; averaging 150,000 bottles.

Flam Winery

Flam makes two main lines: a classic blend and a reserve. There is also the Flam Noble however production is so limited I wasn’t able to get my hands on any. I did get to taste two of the classic blends and the three reserves. Also not on offer for the tasting was the Flam Rose (Cabernet Franc and Syrah) but since I don’t particularly like rose I was okay about that.

Flam Winery

Flam Classico Tasting Notes:

Flam Classico is a single vineyard blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Syrah. Aged 30% in American oak and 70% French oak this is a drink it soon wine. By which I mean it is not ageable.

The nose is fruity with some soft spices. It’s a medium-bodied wine with 13.5% abv. The palate is again fruity with green pepper, spice, good tannin structure, and fairly high acid. This is a food wine and would probably pair well with meat, tomato-based, and rustic dishes.

Flam Winery

Flam Merlot Reserve 2015 Tasting Notes:

One interesting thing I learned at Flam is that Israeli wine laws require that single-varietal wines have to be 85% that wine to be labeled as such. So Flam’s Merlot is not 100% Merlot, it’s at least 85% Merlot. I was naturally prepared to not like this, because Merlot.

After 12 months in French oak, the Flam Merlot Reserve had a nose of spices, violets, and red fruits. The tannins were slightly sharp but some bottle time would make this really elegant. The wine was fruit-driven with soft spices and a slightly sweet finish. All in all not bad for a Merlot. But not exciting enough to get me to buy any.

I did walk away from the visit with a few bottles: another Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, the Syrah Reserve (which surprised me), and the Flam Blanc. Reviews on the latter two soon!

The 2014 Selendi Blend

This 2014 Selendi Blend was another wine I tasted with Şarap Atölyesi at a tasting at the Historic Pano Wine House. I’d had this one before at Solera and was not exactly wowed by it but was game to give it another go.

With a blend of 30% Shiraz, 27% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Cabernet Franc and matured for 24 months in French oak this wine is not messing around. It means business. So does Selendi apparently as they’ve produced only 9,164 bottles of this blend.

Selendi Blend

Image by: Selendi Wines

Tasting notes 2014 Selendi Blend:

The nose of this ruby-red wine displayed some nice clove, black pepper, vanilla, smoke, and red fruits. These followed to the palate where I tasted especially the red fruits and clove along with some vanilla and something woody. The mouth feel was nice but it all seemed very medium: medium-high acid, medium tannins, and a medium finish.

Like several of the other reds I had at this tasting I think that the 2014 Selendi Blend is a good wine but after a few more years in the bottle it could be a great wine.

Chateau Kalpak 2011 Bordeaux Blend

The Chateau Kalpak 2011 is a classic Bordeaux blend made by one of Turkey’s premiere winemakers; Chateau Kalpak. Made in a chateau-style this 2011 blend took a well-deserved gold medal at the 2014 Austrian Wine Challenge.

What is a “chateau-style” wine? The word came into use originally to describe wine in France where winemakers used grapes all grown on one “terroir” (a specific patch of land) to achieve a house-style wine with a consistent character across vintages.

Chateau Kalpak wines are made in this style. The Chateau Kalpak 2011 is a classic Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. All the grapes are grown in one vineyard in Gellibolu. After fermentation and blending they are barrel aged for an impressive 32 months in Hungarian oak barrels.

These wines won’t set you back the same amount as France’s Chateau Margaux.  Rather they are reasonably priced and in fact are not even the most expensive Turkish wines on the market at roughly 115TL. They are however among the most special wines available in Turkey.

Chateau Kalpak 2011

Chateau Kalpak 2011 Tasting Notes:

In the glass the Chateau Kalpak 2011 is a brilliant ruby and the nose is redolent with sour cherry, bright red fruits, eucalyptus, and mint. The palate is balanced and round with medium, smooth tannins and a long finish. While reflective of the nose, the flavors on the palate expand to include baking spices and an even deeper expression of the red fruits.

Chamlija Thracian Red Blend

The 2013 Chamlija Thracian … where has this been all my life? This, for me, is hands down one of the top wines being produced in Turkey right now and is one of my two absolute favorites here. I’m so overwhelmed by this one that I’m a little at loss for even where to start with this.

Over the summer I visited Chamlija’s tasting restaurant where we had the privilege to do a tasting with founder and owner Mustafa Çamlıca. While we didn’t taste this there, we did discover that Chamlija makes many more wines than I’ve ever found in Istanbul. The best news? They ship! Which is particularly relevant to this wine as I haven’t ever seen it anywhere in the city.

Chamlija Thracian

I’m not going to lie-the price tag on the Chamlija Thracian is a little on the steep side; 125TL. However if you order (minimum one case) then you get a 20% discount knocking this down to 100TL. I’ve ordered from Chamlija now three times* I think including at least half a dozen of the Thracian!

The first time I had this I’d brought it out to drink with some friends. They were a little cautious and wanted to make sure that I was happy to open a special bottle with them instead of keeping it for myself. No! Of course I want to share this with friends who appreciate wine! Then I tried and immediately kicked myself for not keeping it back for me! Really though, if you want to impress your friends with an amazing wine (intentionally or not!)

Chamlija Thracian

So what makes the Chamlija Thracian so incredible? Magic obviously. Seriously though this blend of 47% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Cabernet Franc impresses in the glass with its dark, inky red color. The nose is very complex and the more time you take with it the ore you discover; including: green bell peppers and green peppercorn, chocolate, clove, and smoke.

The palate is…wowza. Absolutely gorgeous, suede-like tannins that are just this side of being grippy. My favorite kind! A strong acidic backbone balances well with the tannins and helps carry the very long finish. This was the 2013 bottled in 2015 and it was amazing. I’m guessing it will age well for another 10 years give or take. I would love to put up a few bottles and compare them in five and then 10 years.

The flavors on the palate are similar to the nose but continue to evolve. In addition to a lot of the nose aromas there is also gun powder, fruit cake, and baking spices. This is an absolutely crazy, amazing wine and I could not more strongly recommend you figure out how to get a bottle of it!

*My goal may be to become a professional wino but I do just want to put out it out there that not all 36 bottles have been for me!

2014 Chamlija Cabernet Franc

While Sherlock seemed utterly unmoved by this wine; I was not. I’m not usually a huge fan of Cabernet Franc but when Mustafa Çamlica, the owner of the Chamlija winery, suggested I try the 2014 Chamlija Cabernet Franc I wasn’t going to argue. I am so glad I took his advice.

Chamlija Cabernet Franc

This slightly opaque, bright, garnet red Chamlija Cabernet Franc (found at La Cave for 95 TL) has a nose redolent of dried strawberries, mint, green peppercorn, jalepeno, and green bell pepper. The palate is smooth tannins, mouth-watering acid, and a long finish with lots of spicy and pepper flavors backed up with raspberry and blackberry fruits.

Chamlija Cabernet Franc

My notes have ‘so nice’ written and underlined several times. I will definitely be buying the Chamlija Cabernet Franc again!

I love the way Chamlija describes their wines on the labels: the wines introduce themselves. This Cabernet Franc tells us that it is all from one vineyard, was picked by the first light on dawn on the 21st of October, and will age well until 2025. Although why you would wait until 2025 to drink this is beyond me because I think it’s already gorgeous in 2016-but whichever year you choose, this is a wine to fall in love with.

The Chateau Kalpak Twin

I have two favorite Turkish wines-and one is the 2011 Chateau Kalpak Twin.

Chateau Kalpak is a semi newish winery, located in Şarköy on the Marmara Sea. I say semi newish in that I’ve only noticed the wines here in Istanbul for about the last 18 months or so but I believe their vines have been cultivated since the early 2000’s.

Getting a bottle of Chateau Kalpak Twin is not for the faint of heart though. Suvla has the best price at 100 TL, Savoy Tobacco and La Cave are both around 115 TL, and at Solera it will set you back 140 TL (-25% if you buy it to go). Is it worth the price tag? Absolutely yes.

Chateau Kalpak Twin

A lot of love has gone into making the Chateau Kalpak Twin. Proven if nothing else by the silver medal it won at the AWC in Vienna in 2015 and the gold it took in 2016. This careful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot has spent a whopping 32 months in oak with minimal filtration. It’s a big wine 14.8% alcohol and it really needs to breathe or be run through an aerator; maybe twice. Your patience will be well rewarded though.

I love the story of the Chateau Kalpak Twin. After blending their 2011 Chateau Kalpak and sending it off to VIenna for competition they kept blending the wine because they weren’t happy with it. In the end, the blend they’d sent in won the gold but now they had another blend they liked better; and that’s what became the Chateau Kalpak Twin. While this is a pretty special story it’s also a sad story because it means that the Twin is only available in the 2011 vintage; in limited quantities.

Chateau Kalpak Twin

Chateau Kalpak Twin Tasting Notes:

The Chateau Kalpak Twin is a super complex wine. At first in the nose I got red fruits, spices, oak; but the more I let myself dive into to the aromas the more layers I found: green peppercorn, green bell pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, possibly some ginger, and forest aromas.

On the palate the delights of the wine continued with smooth, round, silky tannins and a long finish; a really long finish. The mouthwatering acid was accompanied by bursts of red berry fruit flavors to complete the picture.

Yes, the Chateau Kalpak Twin is a little expensive but it’s not nearly the most expensive wine I’ve had here in Turkey-and it is so very much worth the investment.

The 2014 Urla Tempus

I’ve been eyeing this 2014 Urla Tempus wine for a while but it’s 195 TL at Solera and I have a hard time coughing up that much for anything. However I have found it both at the Savoy tobacco shop in Cihangir and at Macro Center for 125 TL – far more reasonable in my opinion!

Urla Tempus
The Urla Tempus is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc and has a fairly whopping 15% APV. It’s a double gold winner in the US and fully deserves to be. In the glass the dark ruby red wine smelled velvety and deep. The nose was all black cherries, dark chocolate, and mocha which echo in the palate with beautiful velvety tannins and a long finish. A really long finish.

Urla Tempus

I have a stockpile of draft reviews to post which includes excellent wines, good wines, okay wines, and bad wines-but very few truly remarkable wines. The Urla Tempus was one of them; so much so that I made it the static picture for my website. It definitely falls in the ‘dangerously drinkable’ category and could easily hold its own against quality European wines. I already want another bottle.

Urla Tempus

This one is really gorgeous and fully worth the 125 TL price tag. M says it’s okay to pay to spend 125 TL on a special occasion wine but not on an every day wine-this is where our wine philosophies diverge. To me any day you open a wine this beautiful is a special occasion!