Category Archives: Karasakız

The 2010 Paşaeli 6N

I found this post buried in my drafts folder. I think it’s from last winter so color me embarrassed! Regardless of my embarrassment the 2010 Paşaeli 6N is too good to not post. This Karasakız, Merlot, Petit Verdot blend is a gorgeous example of how right a blend of native Turkish and Old World grapes can go.

Paşaeli 6N

Before we get into the notes lets talk about the name. What’s in a name? A political statement in this case! I’ve wondered about the name of this wine since the very first time I tried it and it was only recently that I learned the story behind it. So I guess it was actually fate and not laziness that kept this from getting posted back when I originally wrote it.

Gold was found in the Kas mountains here in Turkey. Of course, with no thought to the environmental impact or the major disruptions it would cause people living there the government handed out contracts to people who quickly got to work destroying the environment. The Turkish word for ‘gold’ is altın. The word for ‘six’ is altı so the numeral 6 followed by an ‘n’ when said together is a word play that sounds like the Turkish word for gold. That combined with the big red slash creates a wine taking a political stance: no gold.

Paşaeli 6N

Tasting notes 2010 Paşaeli 6N:

After only six months in French oak this Paşaeli 6N blend managed to soak up a fair amount of oaky goodness.The nose was deep and intense, full of dark fruits like black cherries and plums, dried herbs, and smoke. On the palate there were velvety tannins with well-balanced acid and a gorgeous, long finish. In the flavors I detected tart, forest fruits and chocolate to balance the smoke and herbs on the nose.

So so beautiful. In general I have liked the Paşaeli wines I’ve tried but for me, the Paşaeli 6N is by far the best. Paşaeli produces quite a few wines and yet they somehow remain rather difficult to get your hands on here in Istanbul but they’re usually worth the effort it takes to hunt them down. And sadly I haven’t seen the 6N recently at all. If anyone knows where I can get another please let me know!

Suvla tasting

A Visit to Suvla Winery!

I recently had the opportunity to spend time on Bozcaada and was able to visit the Suvla winery in Ecebat. First of all, I wish I’d realized years ago how easy it is to get to the Suvla winery. The main reason I don’t visit Turkish wineries is because I don’t drive and it’s not like they’re exactly conveniently located. Suvla, in Eceabat, is a short ferry ride away from Canakkale which in turn is serviced by a daily flight out of Sabiha Gokcen airport in Istanbul. Had I but known!

Walking into Suvla was a little, as my friend put it, like arriving at the mother ship. The Suvla store in Ecebat is gorgeous. I approached the wine filled walls like an eager kid in a candy shop wishing I could take a little of everything with me. Thanks to Nusret in the Cihangir Suvla shop we were armed with the name of someone to help us during out visit. Unfortunately after arriving we learned that was her day off! However as proof of how fantastic Suvla is, someone called her and Ecem very kindly came in to provide us with some VIP treatment!

First we had a tour of the factory with one of Suvla’s new wine makers, Hıkmet. He toured us through the factory showing us the grape presses and fermentation tanks (I particularly liked the Dalek-shaped tank in the back) answering my pesty questions all the while. Then he took us into the barrel storage room, a blessedly cool contrast to Eceabat’s 38C heat! Suvla uses oak from France, America, and Hungary I believe he said and the barrels are used for five or so wines before being retired.

Of course we couldn’t be at the home of Suvla and not do some wine tasting! Unfortunately Turkish laws have made it difficult, if not downright impossible, for wineries and shops to provide tastings free of charge, however the Suvla restaurant offers a long list of flights for tasting at reasonable prices as well tastings by the glass. T and I got two different red flights, one from Suvla’s mid priced range of wines and one from the higher end. While I was not surprised that we both loved the Petit Verdot-Karasakız blend; I was shocked, and not a small amount horrified, that I actually kind of liked the (2014) Merlot!

After our tasting and tour of the şaraphane, we refreshed ourselves with a coffee break before heading out for a tour of the vineyards with Suvla’s Australian viticulturist, Mark.

red globe table grapes

I suppose it’s possible that I could have been more excited by this, but not a whole lot. The first thing I learned which was very different for me was that wineries in Turkey don’t own large tracts of land where all the grapes are planted. They have bits of land here and there which enable them to plant different grapes in different types of soils and conditions. As a result, driving between the various Suvla plots we also passed a few individually owned farm plots as well as some of Doluca’s vineyards.

Sad stressed grapes

Suvla plants more than just wine grapes in its vineyards. They also have large sections dedicated to different table grapes that are used in workers’ lunches and farm plots where they grow ingredients for the restaurant and the Kilye line of oils, jams, preserves, etc they produce and sell. Mark stopped often so we could roll out of his Range Rover to get an up close view of the various grapes and so I could pester him with questions about canopies, soil types, drainage, grafting, root stock, and harvesting. We also used the stops as opportunities to try the various grapes. A regular grape will never taste as amazing as will a sun-warmed grape plucked from the bunch on the vine.

A young vine grafted onto American rootstock
Looking over Suvla’s vineyards

After a few hours in the vineyards Mark asked if we’d ever been to Gallipoli and seen the war memorials there. T has been but I’d never been to this part of Turkey at all so he very kindly offered to drive us around on a tour of the area.

Ari Burnu Cemetery

While most of the graves in the Ari Burnu cemetery face the sea, three graves belonging to British Indian Muslim soldiers have their headstones pointing towards Mecca.

Atatürk’s ‘Johnnies and Mehmets’ speech memorial at Anzac Cove

Find Atatürk’s iconic speech here.

Kemekli (bone) beach

As an American the battles at Gallipoli and along the coast now known as Kemekli Beach hold less significance. In fact I dare say that we mostly know it as the unpronounceable Mel Gibson movie. However for the allied armies, particularly Australia and New Zealand, it was an unwinnable blood bath into which Winston Churchill pushed soldiers even while knowing he couldn’t win. Significantly for Turkey, it’s also where a young officer names Mustafa Kemal would distinguish himself and what would begin his path to becoming the father of modern Turkey.

We cannot end this on a melancholy note and of course there must be more wine! So let’s talk about two of Suvla’s wines.

We’ll begin with one that I bought a while ago at the shop in Cihangir. I keep trying the pink wines even though I really just can’t get behind them. In the glass Suvla’s 2015 Merlot, Karasakız Rose is the soft peachy-pink of a sunset. To me the nose was basically pink oak. I did however also get some summer berry and floral scents. On the palate it’s dry with crisp acidity and a decent finish. Not a long one, but it stays with you. There are some nice raspberry and strawberry flavors which normally I love in a wine but the Merlotness of it overwhelmed me.

For 45TL this is not a bad investment and I really think the only reason I didn’t like it is because I just really don’t like the pink wines. However if you don’t share my pink prejudice this would be perfect on a hot summer day!

While actually at the Suvla winery I treated myself to two of the high-end wines that I normally wouldn’t let myself buy in the shop. In fact I’ve managed to forget the cost of them both but suffice to say they’re priced over 100TL/bottle. Really rather somewhat over actually. I am a sucker for Turkish Cabernet Sauvignon though and I really wanted to try Suvla’s award-winning 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Unless you have a disposable income far greater than my own, this is not an everyday wine but a special occasion wine. My special occasion happened to be last Tuesday when I made a particularly good truffled chicken and parmesan panino…

After 12 months in oak this gorgeous deep red Cabernet has a nose redolent with prunes, blackberry, cherry, chocolate, and tobacco. In the mouth the tannins are velvety and luscious and the wine has a long finish with more of those dark fruits, some coffee, and smokey flavors. Wow. If you’re looking to treat yourself to a premium Turkish wine you can stop here. I might not have liked the rose but this one knocked my socks off. So much so that I’m actually letting that previous sentence end with a preposition.

Two years after I began my love affair with Suvla wines I finally visited the winery and it could not have been a more fantastic experience! Thank you to Suvla, especially Nusret, Ecem, Hıkmet, and Mike for a fantastic day!

Suvla Behramlı

2013 Suvla Behramlı

Not even the Suvla shop in Cighangir has the Suvla Behramlı! I found it at the Macro Center in Levent for about 15TL and M got a bottle at the big Migros at Cevahir for 19TL. We must find it closer to home though because it was pretty darn marvelous.

We started our evening with a pricey Vino Dessera and this inexpensive Suvla was so much better. So much better. I was pouring the Vino Dessera for everyone else to avoid drinking it and then plotting how to get more of the Suvla Behramlı for myself. So let’s talk about why it’s so good.

Suvla’s 2013 Behramlı is a big blend starring Cabernet Sauvignon and Karasakız supported by Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and the dreaded Merlot. Cherry red, clear to the rim the nose was full of red forest fruits, maybe some cherry, and baking spices. I suspect this spent at least some time in oak.

‘Wine is Life’ in case you forgot

When I taste wine I usually feel it before I taste it. The Suvla Behramlı is smooth and velvety with medium high tannins, medium acid, and a long finish during which the baking spice flavors really pop. Ont the palate I found the red forest fruits to be more dominate but with a nice spine of those baking spices. We maybe have to field trip a little to get our hands on more of this bottle but it will be worth it.

Before I moved to Turkey I firmly believed that you did not have to spend a lot of money to get a good wine; but then I came here where alcohol and import taxes are insanely high and my median bottle price increased by about 300%. In Turkey where even mediocre wine often costs an arm and a leg Suvla seems be [one of] the only company selling truly great wine at very affordable prices.

Bravo.

Suvla Sır

The 2011 Suvla Sır

The problem with back log reviews is that they get really back logged! This has apparently been neglected as a draft for a rather embarrassing amount of months. And while a few wines may deserve that, the 2011 Suvla Sır is not one of them.

There was a period a few months back during which I’d banned myself from drinking for a few weeks…and this Suvla Sır was the culprit. Once again I lost a bet that I could drink an entire bottle of red wine in one sitting and not regret it the next morning. Sadly I did regret it the next morning…but it was a bittersweet regret.

The 2011 Suvla Sır is a complex wine that was interesting right out of the bottle with a deep, dark red/burgundy color that did not let me down in the nose. Dark fruits, lots of berries, and depth. But what else would you expect from a complicated blend of Syrah, Merlot, Karasakiz, Grenache Noir, and Cabernet Franc?

And then the tannins! Oh they were beautiful. Right away on the attack the Suvla Sır acts like it lives for a good tannin the same way I do. Once I was finished swooning over them I was able to pay attention to other things. Like the way the flavors burst on my tongue like a rain drop and then lingered for a nice medium finish.

And how I picked up hints of what I think was tobacco which, combined with the fruit flavors, gives the Suvla Sır a nice balance making a truly elegant wine.

The notes I took while drinking this tell me to be poetic; that I drank the entire bottle while listening to Yo-Yo Ma, and to stop making bets with myself that I can drink entire bottles of red wine and wake up hangover free. I’ve lost that bet a few too many times so drunk me is obviously wiser than sober me. Although it’s easier to say no once temptation is gone (or more precisely after you’ve drunk it all).

At 88 TL per bottle (at the Suvla Shop-there’s a horrifying markup everywhere else) this isn’t an everyday bottle for me but I so wish it could be. Maybe I just need to set lower goals for myself so I can justify having the Sir as a reward more often. Hurrah! I learned and used a new Turkish grammatical construction! Hurrah! I did yoga everyday for a whole week! Hurrah! I got out of bed this morning!

Seriously, can I marry into the family? I grew up on a farm, I could be semi useful in viticulture. Maybe more on the drinking the end product side but still…someone’s got to do that!

Suvla Reserve 2011 Petit Verdot-Karasakız

Holy tannins, Batman! Is it possible to be in love with a wine? Well if it is then between Suvla’s Sur and this 2011 Petit Verdot-Karasakız I’m cheating on someone.

We’ve talked about Petit Verdot and how it’s usually a minuscule 2% added to wines for color effect and how very few wine makers fully utilize the grape. Suvla is one of the wise wine makers that does and its Reserve 2011 Petit Verdot-Karasakız is worth the price tag. It’s really a shame that more wine makers don’t use Petit Verdot in a bigger way because it has a really fantastic flavor. Plus the tannins and we know how much I love tannins!

The look in the glass was a dark dark red-purple. There was no light getting through this wine. For me the darkness followed all the way through the nose and palate. On the nose it was dried fruits, chocolate, I got a little vanilla maybe, and a bit of a spicy punch. Then the palate; and this was where things got really interesting. Because tannins. This was one of those wines I almost forget to taste because I was too busy enjoying the feel of it in my mouth: smooth, silky, and luxurious.

When I remembered to actually taste it I was not disappointed. Dark fruits like berry and cherry as well as dried red fruit burst on the tongue. The 2011 Petit Verdot-Karasakız was not a juicy, rather succulent fruit flavor which gave way to smooth chocolate, cinnamon, and definitely some black pepper.

The Suvla description: “After the diligent vinification process, the wine was aged for 20 years in oak barrels. With dense and very thick garnet red color, the wine has developed a rich bouquet that primarily shows off fruity notes like cherry and blackberry, then comes out hints of sandalwood, cinnamon, black pepper, mocha and fresh walnut. The attack and the mid-palate are supple, consistent and dynamic. Afterwards the wine develops its powerful mighty structure over a strong core. In mouth it is enhancing fruity notes than passing on black chocolate and dried prune. The finish is impressive.”

I continue to love Suvla’s motto

Suvla’s writer strikes again with a great description if not so great English. I am looking for contract editorial work so…you can hire me Suvla! I’ll fix that right up for you and will work for product!

I think it might be a little bit overkill to say it but: Winner! Winner, winner, winner, winner. I should be getting paid for my last consulting contract soon and as soon as I pay off my credit card bill I’m headed back to the Suvla shop in Cihangir for some new options…and probably another bottle of the 2011 Petit Verdot-Karasakız!

The 2012 Suvla Karasakız

Gallipoli is known for one thing, the shameful waste of lives in the World War I Battle of Gallipoli (or the Mel Gibson movie about the same). Lead by the man who would later become Father of the Turks, Kemal Mustafa this last glorious victory of the crumbling Ottoman Empire and Winston Churchill’s refusal to give up the Darandelles lead to the death of nearly 57,000 Allied soldiers. This battle is particularly felt by Australians and New Zealanders and I’ve never met a one visiting Turkey who doesn’t also visit Gallipoli.

Hopefully, Gallipoli will be known for happier things as Suvla wines become more well-known and popular! Although the Suvla Karasakız is the first of theirs about which I have mixed feelings. Before I write what I think though, I want to give you the wine description straight from the label:

“Suvla Karasakız 2012 has a bright cherry red color. The nose is rich and fruity with flashing notes of smashed strawberry, prune, dry fig, thyme and laurel. A well-balanced, succulent, and juicy palate embraces a glittering acidity. Fruity and spicy fragrances are lusciously overflowing into a delicate finish.”

Dude. I need to start writing my reviews like that. My description was far less poetic an used words that are a lot shorter. I think the only place where the descriptions cross is that I will tell you that the Suvla Karasakız had a bright cherry color. I did not at all get strawberries, smashed or no and I have no idea what laurel tastes like. I actually would have said that the flavor reflected the color and that I got a lot of cherry, both juicy red cherries and dried cherries; however I’d have agreed about the juiciness and the spice. It really is fascinating what you do and/or don’t taste.

 

At first I wasn’t quite so sure I liked it. I think the problem was that I was eating the wrong thing with it. The Suvla Karasakız should go well with Mediterranean dishes, grilled vegetables, and shellfish. However I had a recipe for brown butter sweet potato fettuccine that I’d been wanting to try. They did not like each other. However, the wine did go quite well with strong cheese (Asiago and keçi beyaz penir) and sauteed onions.

In the end, paired with more appropriate foods, I come down on the positive side for the Suvla Karasakız. I’m not sure it would be at the top of my repeat list any time soon, but it still gets a thumbs up from me.

Keep the good wines coming, Suvla!