Category Archives: M

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!

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.

Saranta Chateau Murou Merlot 2014

Saranta is one of those wineries in Turkey that I vaguely knew existed. However I had never seen any of their wines in Istanbul until the Sommelier’s Selection Turkey in February. That is when I finally encountered not only Saranta wines, but their brilliant Chateau Murou collection. And to my deep surprise, that’s where I decided the Chateau Murou Merlot was worth breaking my Merlot ban.

Since February I have been on tenterhooks trying to find some Chateau Murou for my very own. Finally in May I was browsing the shelves of La Cave inn Cihangir when I spotted, sitting on the floor in a corner all on their own, a few bottles of Chateau Murou. They had one each of the Merlot, the Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Shiraz. And they all became mine. I suspect I provide great amusement to the gentlemen who work at La Cave when I go into excited raptures over finding new and long-awaited wines.

Chateau Murou Merlot

I hosted a chocolate paired wine tasting in June and knew that the Chateau Murou Merlot would be a perfect match for dark chocolate. I picked up two bottles (100 TL each from La Cave) and paired it with a dark-bitter (72% cocoa) chocolate and a dark chocolate goat cheese truffle. Fantastic.

Given my general attitude towards Merlot it was unsurprising that people were shocked that I put a Merlot on our list. However once they all tried the Chateau Murou Merlot they were willing to follow me to the dark side.

Chateau Murou Merlot

Saranta Chateau Murou Merlot 2014 Tasting Notes:

At only 13% abv this is a medium bodied wine; but don’t let that fool you! It might be medium in body but it delivers in a big way.

In the nose the fruit is secondary for me. I was almost overwhelmed by the earthy aromas of clay and gunpowder supported by green/herbal scents and pepper. Lurking underneath all of that were wisps of dark, black fruits like sugarplum and berry jam. Succulent tannins wrap themselves around the tongue and carry the fruit flavors to a nice, lingering finish.

Has this changed my mind about Merlot in general? No. However the Chateau Murou Merlot is not just another Merlot; it’s a Merlot with attitude.

Athens, Ktima Gerovassiliou Malagouzia, and Cinque Wine Bar

Georgia wasn’t my only wine-focused trip in May! E&M were spending the month in Athens sorting out E’s Greek citizenship (me = green with envy!) and had several times encouraged us to visit. Having just returned from a whirlwind trip to Tbilisi I was reluctant to do so. Until they sent me pictures of the inside of their local wine shop with promises to take me.

Cinque

How could I resist this?

My arm sufficiently twisted I booked a flight and prepared to spend a long weekend exploring the Athens wine scene. Then Em fell victim to a visa snafu and had to leave the country within 10 days. So early one Friday morning we BOTH headed to the airport for a quick flight to Athens.

Cinque

Fantastic label

After we arrived E&M whisked us off for a leisurely lunch. We ate every pork-having dish available and soaked fries and bread in the most delectable honey pork juices. Then it was to the promised wine store so I could begin my Greek wine education!

Cinque

Another great label!

Sadly while the shop was full of wine the staff were less than helpful. However they did deign to recommend a few bottles. Given the sea of unfamiliar grape names and, fantastic bottle designs, and limited knowledge of the Greek alphabet even their begrudging assistance was welcome. I started with five bottles thinking that would do us for the couple days we were staying. I don’t know who I thought I was with or if I temporarily forgot how much I can drink but those five bottles lasted us until we went out for dinner that same evening.

Gerovassiliou Malagouzia

Ktima Gerovassiliou Malagouzia 2016 Tasting Notes:

The Ktima Gerovassiliou Malagouzia 2016 was our first wine together in Athens. After one sip I realized I had found my first favorite Greek grape: Malagouzia. This wine is a single vineyard wine from the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Epanomi that is vinified mostly in stainless steel but also in a little French oak. The wine is left with its lees for a number of months to gain structure and body.

In the glass it’s a brilliant pale yellow with a lot of green highlights. The nose was so reminiscent of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (my favorite white wine). Aromatic and fruity it exploded with tropical fruits, white peaches, and citrus. On the palate it’s zesty lemon peel and tropical fruits with a zingy acidity and lightly mineral finish. If I had bought five bottles of just this wine I would have been happy.

Sheets of cold rain kept us in the next morning. Eventually we made it out for shopping and more wine acquisitions. Many more wine acquisitions in fact. So when we rolled up to the Cinque Wine Bar we were laden like beasts of burden.

Cinque

Tucked into a small space near a tango school is the Cinque Wine Bar which E&M had just discovered. It’s thanks to the lovely owners at Cinque that I can now claim a wee little bit of Greek wine knowledge. Cinque offers of course wines by the glass and bottle but even better they offer wine flights. Each flight comes with a place mat that gives information about the wines.

Cinque

More than just plunking down these excellent tools; the owners were only to happy to talk to us about Greek wine, wine regions, wine making…all things Greek wine related! In one afternoon there I learned a great deal; especially that I love the native (white) Greek grapes Malagouzia and Assyrtiko.

All in all we had a fantastic, if lightening quick visit to Athens! I tasted (and bought!) a lot of fantastic Greek wine and came home with some valuable knowledge about it to boot.

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!

Kybele 2011 from Şen Vineyards

One of the best, medium-priced Turkish wines I’ve had in a while was the Kybele 2011 from Şen Vineyards.

I picked up the Kybele for 42 TL at Comedus on Meşrutiyet (it might be less at La Cave in Cihangir). Honestly it was the label that caught my eye. I think it’s fantastic. Much like the art on Chamilja’s wine bottles I’d love to hang a print of this in my apartment. The other reason I bought it is because I’d never heard of Şen Vineyards and I am always on the look out for new Turkish wine.

Located in Balıkesir, in Turkey’s Marmara region, Şen Vineyards plants Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Semillion. The Kybele is a Merlot-lead blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Shiraz. The vineyard has kind of an interesting website. It includes a page with a list of wine terms. So if you’re interested in talking about wine in Turkish this will help kick off your practice!

Kybele

Kybele 2011 Tasting Notes:

The Kybele is a very dark, opaque ruby in the glass. The nose was not particularly layered but the red fruits (berries especially), vanilla, and nutty aromas were pleasant. On the palate it was balanced with light, silky tannins and a medium, nutty-vanilla finish.

Overall the Şen Vineyards 2011 Kybele is not a particularly complex blend but it was a very enjoyable drink and held its own against some of the higher quality wines we drank that night.

Psagot Peak Blend 2014

My first night in Jerusalem I was too tired to do more than stumble to the Mahane Yehuda to grab provisions. Luckily the mahane had several wine stores! So with a list of wine recommendations in hand I made friends at a wine shop and picked up a bottle of Psagot Peak.

Mahane Yehude

While Psagot Peak was not on my friend’s list of recommendations I was enticed by the label and the gold medallion stuck on the bottle. I’m a total magpie so my eyes went straight to the Psagot bottles and really never left.

Psagot Winery is located very near Jerusalem. Yaakov Berg founded the winery in 2003 and since then it has grown rapidly from 3,000 bottles in its first vintage to over 200,000 now. All the wines they make are kosher and many are award winners.

Mahane Yehude

From there I found the Basher Fromagerie. Also known as the greatest place on earth. They were closing up so I just grabbed a couple cheeses and headed back to my AirBnB. However two days later I was back. I must have spent three or four hours in there during which time I bought about four very nice bottles of wine and about four kilos of cheese. Everyone was so lovely. They put a glass of wine in my hand and I tasted and bought cheese like I’d never had any before. Then they made me the best sandwich I’ve ever had, set me up in their little balcony, and brought me more wine. At the end I just handed over my credit card and told them I didn’t want to know what the damage was.

Sadly a few weeks later I saw it on my credit card statement. Eesh. Totally worth it though.

All that to say that my first night in Jerusalem I spent relaxing with beautiful wine and cheese. Really a pretty great first night!

Psagot Peak

Psagot Peak 2014 Tasting Notes:

The Psagot Peak is a fairly high alcohol wine at 14% abv a blend of 42% Syrah, 16% Mourvedre, and 42% Petite Sirah. Drinking this back in my AirBnB definitely made me rethink future packing strategy, I always travel with a corkscrew but now I think I’ll start also packing an aerator. Without proper breathing the first sip of the Psagot Peak was a little bitter and harsh. After it had a chance to open up though: lovely.

The nose was very fruity; lots of black fruits like berries and currants. On the palate the tannins were velvety and long. The flavors were again of fruit but with some spice, and smoked meat/game.

Add to the wine some of the double cream brie I bought at STORE and it was a good first night in Jerusalem!

Yedi Bilgeler 2013 Phytagoras Reserve

The Yedi Bilgeler 2013 Phytagoras Reserve is why I fell in love with this winery. The first time I had it was at Solera where it caught my eye both because it was new and because I really liked the label. I have enjoyed it several times since and included it in one of my wine tasting events.

Phytagoras 2013

Yedi Bilgeler is based near the village of Selçuk; home to the ruined city of Ephesus. Due to Turkish alcohol laws wine tourism next to impossible.  As a result the native wine industry has suffered. Possibly the best way to stay in concert with current law and yet still attract people to a winery is to build a concept winery. Yedi Bilgeler has done this. By building a boutique hotel and restaurant on site people can visit the winery, try wines in the restaurant, and have a beautiful place to stay away from the more touristy areas in Selçuk.

Yedi Bilgeler has several wines on the market. To my sadness I have only been able to get my hands on a couple. The 2013 Phytagoras Reserve has been my favorite so far. It seems that it’s other people’s favorite too. in 2013 the 2013 Phytagoras Reserve won a silver medal at the Consours Mondial wine competition in Brussels.

Phytagoras 2013

This is a big blend wine: Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Merlot. At 14.8% abv it’s not a shy wine either. Nor is it terribly expensive running about 75 TL at Cihangir’s La Cave.

Yedi Bilgeler 2013 Phytagoras Reserve Tasting Notes:

The nose on the 2013 Phytagoras is beautiful. There are black fruits, a little jam, spice, leather, and a little smoke. Soft, medium tannins on the palate open up to a balanced wine. Dark flavors featuring black raspberry, cinnamon, smoke, and leather lead to a long finish.

The 2013 Phytagoras is easy and enjoyable to drink. I’ve joked in the past that I seem to be aiming to set a world record for most visits to Selçuk (eight at last count). However after getting to know some of Yedi Bilgeler’s wines I am looking forward to visit nine!

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!