Category Archives: Chardonnay

Wines made from Chardonnay grapes

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!

Selendi Sarnıç Viognier Chardonnay 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; one of which was the 2015 Sarnıç Viognier Chardonnay by Selendi.

Selendi is one of Turkey’s Aegean wineries located in the Akhisar district of Manisa (outside Izmir). The name of this wine, Sarnıç, is actually the name of the specific vineyard. It is not uncommon for winemakers here to name wines after the villages where the vineyards are.

Selendi has three vineyards in Sarnıç (Sarnıç  I – III). It’s in Sarnıç III where they have grown their Viognier and Chardonnay grapes since 2009. While located very near the sea, Sarnıç is not as hot as the surrounding areas. At 850 meters above sea level it is home to a microclimate that makes it cooler than its surrounds thereby providing a longer growing season and more time for the grapes to ripen.

Sarnıç Viognier Chardonnay

Photo by: Vivino

Tasting notes 2015 Sarnıç Viognier Chardonnay:

The Sarnıç Viognier Chardonnay is a blend of 60% Viognier and 40% Chardonnay. The paleness of color speaks to the only small amount of time the wine was oaked leaving the fruit to largely speak for itself. True to its Viognier (better) half it was very aromatic with a lot of fruity and floral notes like citrus, pineapple, and vanilla.

On the palate it’s clean and round with zesty acid and bursting with citrus and vanilla. There’s also a hint of creaminess in the mouthfeel which keeps the higher acid from being too overwhelming.

Chateau Kefraya Roussalka

It’s been years since I went to Lebanon but the more Lebanese wines I taste the more I want to visit again! This 2016 Chateau Kefraya Blanc de Blancs (la cuvee de Roussalka) is just one example of why we should be paying more attention to Lebanese wines.

Chateau Kefraya is the lifetime achievement of founder Michel de Bustros (1929-2016). He planted his first vines in 1951 and Chateau Kefraya as been making award-winning wines ever since. The Chateau’s wines even won medals in the early 80s when, despite the Lebanese civil war, de Bustros continued to produce wine.

Kefraya Roussalka

Located in the Bekaa Valley at the foot of Mount Barouk, Chateau Kefraya is home to a variety of soil types. Excellent sun exposure and sharp diurnal temperature changes provide lots of time for grapes to fully ripen before harvest. De Bustros believed that good wine was the result of terroir and blending.

For this line, the Blanc de Blancs, each cuvee since 2000 has been named after an opera bearing the name of a woman. The wine that began it all was ‘La Cuvee d’Aida’. This 2016 vintage is the ‘La Cuvee de Roussalka’. So while the proper name of the wine is ‘Chateau Kefraya Blanc de Blancs La Cuvee de Roussalka’ I’ve simplified it for the purposes of the post. We’ll refer to it simply as ‘Chateau Kefraya Roussalka’.

Kefraya Roussalka

Chateau Kefraya Roussalka Tasting Notes:

I’ll start out with a spoiler and say that I really liked this. The nose was both tropical (mango) and floral. On the palate it was fresh, lively, and full of flavor. I got again the tropical fruits and flowers (jasmine) but also honey and the finish was long and slightly sweet.

We drank this with a bunch of left over Turkish mezes I had in the refrigerator and it paired rather well with them. Even with the spicier mezes. It also paired well with the ever tricky asparagus!

I got this from a friend who went to Lebanon but Chateau Kefraya wines are available in several countries. I’d check out their website to see if yours is one!

Sommeliers’ Selection Turkey 2017

February 25 and 26 Istanbul hosted the 2017 Sommeliers’ Selection Turkey at the St. Regis hotel. Organized by Gustobar, the event brought together 179 wines from 34 Turkish wineries and about eight international wineries.

Sommeliers' Selection

It was, as one might expect, rather a mad house.

Sommeliers' Selection

That’s not down to the organizers of course. Big tasting affairs like the Sommeliers’ Selection are always a little bit of a mad house as one jostles for position at the tables to get a sample. And what samples! Wines from across Turkey, Italy, France, and Chile were available. I was impressed with the selection of Turkish wines although I was sorry to not see wine from producers like Arda, Melen, Umurbey, Kutman, or Gülor. I was surprised to not see anything from Paşaeli, Corvus, Turasan, or Prodom but somehow not surprised to not see anything from Chateau Kalpak.

Sommeliers' Selection

To my delight (and frankly a little surprise) there were several wineries there I didn’t know at all. One, the Izmir-based Öküzgözü Winery really impressed with its Öküzgözü Foça Karası. Definitely young, this was a bright purple-red wine with strong acid, and the flavors of red berries, cloves, and herbs. I don’t usually like wines made from Öküzgözü grapes but this one I would really love to find again.

Sommeliers' Selection

A HUGE surprise was Saranta’s Chateau Murou line. I tried, and liked, several of these but what shocked me the most was the fact that I like their Merlot. I know, right?! Surprisingly herbal with big red fruits this was, as my friend said, Merlot with a little evil in it. Definitely something I would drink.

Sommeliers' Selection

Of all the wines I tried I was the most pleased with the selection of white wines. I don’t often have good luck finding white wine that I like so I’m looking forward to picking up some of these, such as Nif’s Aegean blend of Narince, Viognier, and Solaris.

The 2015 Narince by Vinoluş, featured at the Sommeliers’ Selection master class, was amazing. Highly mineral with orange blossom, honeysuckle, stone fruits, and maybe some banana, this was a killer wine. Sadly Vinoluş made only 600 bottles of this so I’m thinking that I don’t have a fantastic chance of getting one for my very own.

Sommeliers' Selection

One of my favorites of the day was the Bona Dea line from Ergenekon-another new winery to me. I liked the red on offer as well but the cloudy, unflitered Sauvignon Blanc was light with crisp acidity and full of peaches was the star for me.

In addition to the general tasting I signed up for the master class with sommeliers Ronan Sayburn MS and Isa Bal MS. A complete departure from the tastings I’ve been attending, this was in English in deference to Sayburn who is British.

Sommeliers' Selection

With the two sommeliers participants tasted through a series of 13 wines selected by them [the sommeliers] during a blind tasting. All but one of the selected wines were Turkish. Of these for me the most remarkable were Likya’s Acıkara and Edrine’s Papazkarası. The most surprising? Mon Reve Marselan by Domaine Lucien Arkas. I have openly hated on Mon Reve wines before but this minty, slightly meaty, smokey red wine full of tart blackberries has me thinking again. Yet another wine that I need to find.

Sommeliers' Selection

I was surprised to discover how many people there I already knew from vineyard visits, other tasting events, or social media. It was very nice to see and meet so many people. I will definitely make good on the promises I made to visit wineries, especially Edrine and Vino Dessera as well as to stop in at the Kastro Tireli storefront near Bebek.

Not wanting to ruin a great event by getting drunk I did a fairly decent job of taking only small sips of wine and pouring out the remainder of the glass. As much as it hurts my feelings to spit and/or pour out wine there’s no way I could have tasted even the fraction of wines on offer I did and lived to tell about it had I drunk everything. By the time I got to the master class late in the afternoon though all bets were off and I no longer left wine in the glass. It probably would have been fine if we’d stopped there but there was still a little time after the class before everyone was herded out and most of the wines were left unattended!

Even though today I feel like I won’t even be able to look at wine for at least a week this was a fantastic event. I am so glad I had the opportunity to go and would definitely come back from Italy for the 2018 event!!

Likya 2015 Arykanda Chardonnay

I know-a Chardonnay? What is the world coming to?! I really did have a reason though. I recently lead an all-Likya tasting and wanted at least one white. So when I spotted this unoaked Likya 2015 Arykanda Chardonnay at La Cave (for only 45TL) I thought why not?

Also they only had one bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc.

Arykanda Chardonnay

I was actually fairly intrigued by the Arykanda Chardonnay. I have not hated unoaked Chardonnay wines I’ve had in the past and so thought that this could be interesting. Oddly enough I-loud Chardonnay hater that I am-was one of only THREE people out of 13 at the tasting who liked it! Well-“like” might be a strong word for what I felt. I thought it was drinkable, but two of my guests really did actually like it.

In the glass the Arykanda Chardonnay was a brilliant, pale yellow. On the nose I got an explosion of tropical fruits, yellow apple, citrus blossom, and white peach. Many people at my tasting told me that they smelled bubble gum.

On that palate I personally thought that this was pretty soft for a 13.7% abv wine. Apparently I was the only one to do so however as the vast majority of my guests were completely put off by what they said was bracing acidity.

The question of acidity aside, the palate carried many of the flavors from the nose, particularly the white peach, along with a creamy creme fraiche flavor/feeling.

Final feelings on the Arykanda Chardonnay…I didn’t hate it nearly as much as 85% of my guests but it isn’t something I’m likely to buy again.

Isa Bey Chardonnay

Sevilen’s 2014 Isa Bey Chardonnay

It’s no secret how I feel about Chardonnay-basically I hate it. I enjoy a steel-aged Chardonnay but those are difficult to find in the US, finding one in Turkey is like finding a unicorn standing in a field of four-leaf clovers. However a friend of mine is a huge fan of Sevilen’s Isa Bey Chardonnay and at her prompting I tried a bottle.

Before we talk about the wine itself (35 TL from Carrefour, 69 from Solera) let’s talk about this particular line of Sevilen wines. Isa Bey means Mr. Jesus. Naming your wine after the guy famous for turning water into wine (if I but had a superpower!) is not a bad marketing gimmick.

As oaked Chardonnays go this was not horrendous. Which is about as ringing an endorsement as I will likely ever give an oaked Chardonnay.

While the Isa Bey Chardonnay looks like a darker yellow/gold in the picture that has more to do with lighting than the actual color which was paler than I expect from a Chardonnay. Being a 2014 it is a bit younger so I’m throwing out a guess that it did not spend a great deal of time in oak. The nose was light, faintly floral with citrus blossoms and green apple. On the palate it was crisp with lively acidity and a medium, slightly buttery finish. For me the overwhelming flavor aspect was green apple with undertones of citrus.

For those who like dry, oaked white wines but for whom your standard Chardonnay is too full bodied the Isa Bey Chardonnay is a good choice. It’s not a heavy white but is quite quaffable. I’m still not a convert but I will try some other Mr. Jesus wines this summer!

Suvla Bigalı White

Suvla Bigalı White 2014

Suvla has out a new series this year: Bigalı (running 19TL/bottle). I believe we’ve already covered the red so, in keeping with drinking more whites during the summer, it is time to discuss the Suvla Bigalı White.

The Suvla Bigalı White is like a super blend combining Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Chardonnay, Roussanne Marsanne. I’m not even sure where to begin with all of them especially as I am completely unfamiliar with the latter two.

So with everything I don’t know in mind…here we go.

The 2014 Suvla Bigalı White is straw gold in color.  The nose is very floral (unsurprising really with any of these grapes). On the palate it’s floral, pear, fruity, and a bit buttery perhaps. It was a little on the bright (higher acid) side for my personal taste but wasn’t at all astringent. It just really wanted to let us all know that it had its fair share of acid.

For me…not a huge win. And it really hurts me when I have to say that about a Suvla. To be fair, I am notoriously hard to please when it comes to dry whites. Even though it didn’t win any medals with me I would still recommend it for being a solid white with a crazy reasonable price for Turkey.

Suvla Kabatepe white

Suvla Kabatepe White 2013

This week we’re talking about the 2013 Suvla Kabatepe white. Sadly, they’re not producing any more of this so what is in stock is what is left. Kabatepe is Suvla’s lowest-price wine range and the best wines you can get in Turkey for under 25TL.

Like the red, the white is a super blend: Kınalı Yapıncak 47%, Chardonnay 17%, Sauvignon Blanc 15%, Semillon 10%, and Roussanne Marsanne 11%.

Right out of the bottle it was interesting with its bright straw yellow color and green hues. The nose was dry and little floral. I was really surprised by the flavor which was sweeter than I expected given the dryness of the nose. I don’t mean sweet like a Muscat sweet, of course, more like there was just a hint of honey.

Crisp, slightly acidic, and with flavors of what I think was green apple, the Suvla Kabatepe white was delightful. Such a pity there’s only a limited supply-so go get yours now!