Category Archives: Malbec

Likya Malbec 2015

I feel like I say a lot that such-and-such winery is one of my favorite wineries in Turkey. Does the expression lose gravitas for saying it so often? Or is it a reflection on how good Turkish wine really is? Whatever the answer; I’m going to say it again. Likya is one of my favorite wineries in Turkey.

One of the things I like so much about Likya is that they put equal effort into both domestic and international varietals. For example, Likya resurrected a nearly distinct Turkish grape varietal and is now making complex and interesting wines from the Acıkara grape. The list of international varieties they tackle is varied and interesting. Beyond the typical Chardonay and Pinot Noir they also make a varietal Pinot Meunier and several Malbec options.

The first Likya Malbec I tried was the Kadyanda Malbec and I was blown away. Less expensive than the wine we’re discussing here, the Kadyanda was fully expressive of the varietal. Given my enthusiastic response to that wine I was eager to try the eponymous Likya Malbec.

Likya Malbec

Likya Malbec 2015 Tasting Notes:

The drama of this wine is apparent as soon as you pour it and see the deep, opaque purple red color reminiscent of black mulberries. The nose here is everything. It displays aromas of black fruits (black raspberry, plum), coffee, vanilla, bay leaf, chocolate, and baking spices.

Medium-bodied with round, succulent tannins, the fruit on the palate is rich. It was far more fruit-forward than I expected after the dynamic aromas in the nose.

By no means a mundane wine; but I think a little longer in the bottle would be beneficial. However if you want to drink it now you won’t be disappointed. Just make sure to decant or otherwise aerate this one well first to let the flavors settle properly.

Fabre Montmayou Gran Reservado Malbec

When I lived in the US I never really understood the point of Duty Free shops; I never saw deals that were any better than the US retail prices. Then I moved to Turkey and I got it. Now I make liberal use of duty free whenever I’m abroad including picking up a bottle of the gorgeous 2012 Fabre Montmayou Gran Reservado Malbec.

While it wouldn’t have been my first instinct to pair it this way; it turns out that the Fabre Montmayou Gran Reservado Malbec goes beautifully with roasted tomato soup. This was a case of pairing based more on what I wanted to eat and drink vs what made pairing sense. And yet it worked amazing well.

Fabre Montmayou Gran Reservado Malbec

Fabre Montmayou Gran Reservado Malbec Tasting Notes:

I’ve had one or two pretty decent Turkish Malbecs recently but the Fabre Montmayou Gran Reservado Malbec…this is what Malbec is supposed to taste like. The nose is deep and dark dark, mostly black pepper, tobacco, and cocoa. After it opened we caught also some of the big, black fruits for which Malbec is so famous.

So, so beautiful, the tannins envelope you like a velveteen hug and lead to a finish that is long and smooth. It tastes like jam made with black plums and black cherries that has been liberally spiced with black pepper.

This is a Malbec that takes some time to get know and it’s worth every moment of the journey!

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!

El Porvenir de Cafayate Amauta Corte Inspiracion

E brought this bottle of Amauta Corte Inspiracion by Bodega El Porvenir de Cafayate back from a trip to Argentina. She them promptly left on another trip to somewhere (who remembers-75% of her time is spent traveling) so one night M and I broke it out and drank it without her.

Oh she was so angry when we couldn’t stop talking about how this was probably the best wine we’d had all year.

Located in Valle de Cafayate-Salta, in northern Argentina, El Porvenir de Cafayate is a family-run vineyard focused on keeping the land and culture of Cafayate intact. They have a lot to protect in Cafayate. It’s a valley with a desert climate, poor soil, and a micro climate with day-night temperature variations. Together that allows grapes to reach peak ripeness. And at El Porvenir de Cafayate they do so organically.

The Amauta Corte Inspiracion is 60% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Syrah all grown at 5,577 feet above sea level on 15 year old vines. After fermentation the wine is aged for six to eight months in French and American oak barrels. It can be aged up to eight years-if you have that kind of patience.


Amauta Corte Inspiracion Tasting Notes:

At 14.6% abv this is a big wine. Dense, opaque ruby with purple highlights in the glass, the nose is oh so swoon-worthy. I got a lot of dense, black fruits like black raspberry and blueberry with tobacco, cocoa, baking spices, and some really nice vanilla. Like really rich vanilla, not that awful fake smell that seems to dominate so many perfumes.

The palate…shoot. It’s like they made wines out of Gregory Peck and Humphry Bogart then blended them together. The acid was a little high for me but I suspect some more bottle time would take care of that. The tannins though are lovely, round, and silky carrying into a long finish. The flavor is very fruit-forward, slightly cooked fruit/jam-like with sweet tobacco and chocolate.

Gulor Öküzgözü-Malbec

2013 Gülor Öküzgözü Malbec

I’m always surprised when I go to Macro Center by how many wines the store doesn’t have. It has a very small alcohol selection, in fact I think my local Carrefour has as many or more varieties. However what Macro Center’s selection does have going for it is the odd bottle here or there that I’ve not seen anywhere else; which is how I ended up with this bottle of 2013 Gülor Öküzgözü Malbec for 71.50TL. Macro Center has an odd pricing structure.

Gülor wines are from Şarköy which makes them part of Turkey’s Thracian wine trail; my preferred wine region in Turkey. Since I had such luck with Likya’s Malbec I decided to go for it and see what Gülor could do with a Malbec blend.

In the glass the Gülor Öküzgözü Malbec is a gorgeous purple with an equally lovely nose of raspberry, possibly black cherry, blueberry, chocolate, and maybe a little mint.

On the palate I got some of the blueberry but not the raspberry or cherry I thought I had detected in the nose. It was a little more…black raisin I think with baking spices and a touch of tobacco. Medium low tannins, lively acidity, and medium body lead into a relatively long finish.

All in all, the 2013 Gülor Öküzgözü Malbec was pretty niiice.

Likya Podalia

The 2012 Likya Podalia

The 2012 Likya Podalia has become my go-to bottle when I take people to Dai Pera – which is my go-to restaurant. It’s a nice medium bodied wine that suits just about any palate and isn’t challenging for people who don’t have a lot of wine experience. Likya Podalia is a Kalecik Karası Malbec blend (75TL from La Cave) which has the added benefit of being both exotic for people who don’t know Turkish wines but also comfortingly familiar.

The nose is fascinating…cotton candy and tobacco all swirled together with raspberry undertones. Sounds a little weird but not uncommon for these wines. Kalecik Karası is known for having cotton candy scents in the nose. On the palate the wine is low on tannins but there’s a lively level of acid, and has a nice, medium-length finish that makes my mouth water like I’ve had something savory. It tastes like savory red berries.

Unfortunately the Likya Podalia did not pair well with my chosen foods, it really overpowered my port salut and did not like the tartness of the green apples. Even though it’s a medium bodied wine it’s got some big flavors and needs stronger flavored foods (like the fantastic mezzes at Dai Pera. So pair this with garlic, tomato, spicy peppers and stronger cheeses like Parmesan.

Even Sherlock is getting into the tasting! Although really she probably just wanted the cheese. Dairy products are not safe around her if left unattended. Thankfully she doesn’t demand a share of the wine too!

I am liking Likya more and more with every bottle I have so I think we’re going to be trying a lot more of these in the coming months!

Likya Kadyanda Malbec

The 2014 Likya Kadyanda Malbec

I have been burned by Turkish Malbec’s before so I was a little (i.e. a whole lot) trepidacious when the guys as La Cave recommended the Likya Kadyanda Malbec. Likya produces two Malbecs, a pricey reserve and the reasonably priced 2014. Since it was only going to set me back 45TL I decided to be brave and give it a try.

My first thought when I got a whiff of the nose… “ooooo”.  Even though this isn’t Likya’s reserve Malbec it has a lot of reserve-style scents like black fruits, tobacco, and oak; aromas I would expect more from a reserve-style Malbec.

It was softer on the palate than I expected after the nose and had no discernible tannins but a good amount of acid and a pretty decent finish for a medium-bodied wine. Flavors in the mouth were blueberry, grape jam, and something candy-like. The tobacco was less strong than in the nose while still being an integral part of the flavor, backing up the fruits.

I was so excited by the Likya Kadyanda Malbec that I immediately messaged E, who was stuck on a compound in Kabul, to tell her that I had finally found a really nice domestic Malbec for us. In fact I’m so excited about this wine that I’m ready to pony up the dough for the reserve!