Category Archives: Misket (Muscat)

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!

Amadeus MMX 2015 Gelber Muskateller

What is Gelber Muskateller? you ask. It’s Muscat, or technically yellow Muscat. How is that different from any of the other Muscats I’ve reviewed? It’s not really, it’s the same grape. It just happens to be one of the German names (there are unbelievably almost 300 variations on the grape name!) and therefore a fitting name for the Austrian owner of the Amadeus winery to give his wine.

German white wines like Riesling and Gewürztramiener often get a bad rap as being syrupy sweet dessert wines when really that’s not the case. German, Austrian, and Alsace Riesling, Gewürztramiener, and Muscat wines are usually produced as dry wines, not sweet. While Austrians tend to grow more of their native Grüner Veltliner, they also produce dry Riesling, Gewürztramiener, and Muscat.

Amadeus Muskateller

To be honest I was more than a little hesitant to buy this even though it was only 45 TL. I’ve had a bad Amadeus experience before which made me a little gun shy and the guys at the Cave were pushing this one hard. They do annoy me a bit sometimes. If I ask for a recommendation please give me one, but if I go in an tell you that I know exactly what I’m looking for and I want only those specific wines, stop trying fob other wines off on me.

Rant aside, this wasn’t too bad. At 14.5% this wine by Amadeus has a rather high alcohol content for a white wine but made for some beautiful legs in the glass as I swirled the bright gold wine. The nose was very tropical with floral, possibly honeycomb tones. It also felt really good in the mouth with a nice mouthwatering acid to balance the sweetness coming from the high alcohol and a smooth, clean, medium finish that carried through the aromas from the nose.

Amadeus Muskateller

This Amadeus Gelber Muskateller was a lot nicer than I was expecting considering my reluctance to purchase Amadeus wines in general and the less than suave, beat you over the head with the wine bottle sales tactic from the guys at the Cave. I think I need to give Amadeus wines another try.

Turasan Misket

Turasan Misket and A Bosphorus Cruise

Recently I discovered that a new friend owns a yacht. And while I would love to be friends with the idle rich O is not idle, she and her husband have a travel agency here in Istanbul and the yacht is one of the services they offer. She kindly offered to take a bunch of us out a couple weeks ago for a Sunday Bosphorus cruise, and what goes better with a cruise than a nice, sweet wine like the Turasan Misket?

Ortakoy Mosque & the First Bridge

So on a gorgeous, sunny afternoon we all met at the Kabatas dock to board the Zoe in what was going to be a three hour tour (and don’t think the Americans didn’t giggle at that). Three hours turned into four and half as we cruised up the Bosphorus admiring the palaces and architecture along the way and stopping near the Black Sea, practically underneath the infamous Third Bridge, for a swim.

Anadoluhisari

Of course I wasn’t going to miss the chance to sip a wine as I pretended to be idle rich myself. It’s not everyday a girl gets invited aboard a yacht (although if anyone does have those days often please tell me how!). What wine would go better with a Sunday summer cruise than a semi sweet? So I broke out one of the Turasan wines I had shipped from the winery in Cappadocia: Turasan’s 2015 Misket.

One of the things I like about Turkish Misket (or Muscat as most of us know it) is that they are generally of the semi sweet variety; they’re not cloyingly sweet dessert wines. Turasan’s isn’t quite dessert-level sweet but it is sweeter than I like my Miskets.

In the glass it’s, a bright, extremely pale yellow and smells, of all things, like champagne. I love aromatic white wines and Muscats usually deliver in that respect with a lot of floral and tropical notes. On the palate there was little acid and it felt a bit thick however some of that might well have to do with the fact that I wasn’t drinking it at ideal serving temperature. A few degrees colder would have made a world of difference. The flavor was very nice following the aromas from the nose: tropical, citrus, and white flowers. I did not get the orange blossom though that I love so much in Miskets.

Maiden’s Tower

Pricing on this one is a little difficult. I ordered directly so I got the winery price of 28TL for the Turasan Misket. The Cave sells these for mid/upper 30s, and Solera has a mid 50s price tag. It’s worth the 28. At the risk of sounding like a credit card commercial, drinking it on a yacht on the Bosphorus, priceless!

The best thing about it? You can do it too if you’re in the city! The Zoe is for hire for private events of I think 10-12 people. It was recently written up in The Guide Istanbul magazine and you can contact them for hire information via the Zoe Yacht Cruise Facebook Page. Bon Voyage!

Yanık Ülke Muscat

The 2014 Yanık Ülke Muscat

I’ve been shopping a lot recently at Senus which is home to the largest collection of Yanık Ülke wines I’ve seen. In fact for a while it was the only place I saw any wines by this maker (they’ve been popping up now at La Cave as well).

Yanık Ülke, which hasn’t been winning any awards from me yet, has the dubious honor of producing a Muscat that is both the most expensive (50TL) Muscat I’ve had here…and the worst.

If the Yanık Ülke Muscat were just the nose then it would have been a fair (although still not particularly good) wine. The aromas of apple, honey, and flowers were promising. Unfortunately the nose lied. Lied, lied, lied. While the aromas came through on the palate, if faintly, so too did its thinness and astringency. There was none of the beautiful orange blossom that made me fall in love with Turkish Muscats. It was also a great deal drier than I like a Muscat.

I like discovering new wines but this Yanık Ülke Muscat was so not worth the price of admission. From now on when I want a Muscat I will stick to the Ancyra or Leonas.

On the good new side, I decided it was time to finally get a wine rack. In the past I only ever had one or two wines on hand at any one time. However with the support of a regular paycheck and the plummeting Lira I have built a fair collection. A collection which has been hanging out in boxes and bags on my floor. Not cool.

So following our aquarium trip, M and I went to Ikea where I got two of their nine-bottle racks. And then proceeded to swear and yell a lot when assembling them. You know, like you do with everything from Ikea that requires assembly. It was worth it though! Look how much better this is!

Now I just have to figure out an organizational structure for the eight-nine bottles in the refrigerator.

Vinkara Quattro Dömi-Sek Misket

Vinkara is fairly widely available here in Istanbul and produces several labels: Winehouse, Reserve, Vinkara, and Quattro. They’re not my favorite producer but since I’m I’ma  drive to try all the Miskets made in Turkey I decided to give the Vinkara Quattro Dömi-Sek a go.

This is the first of the Miskets I’ve tried that has truly been a semi-dry. Quite probably that’s why the  Vinkara Quattro Dömi-Sek wasn’t a favorite for me. It was not at all bad and I think, even at 35TL a bottle, I might like to give it another try and see what I think of it a second time around. I went into this with a preconceived idea about what the taste was going to be and when something completely different happened I couldn’t quite keep up.

I think the view might have improved the flavor!

While the nose and flavor profiles were within the same family as the sweeter Miskets I’ve been drinking, the taste was quite a lot drier and the orange blossom and honey flavors I’ve come to expect much less evident. Instead the flavors of the  Vinkara Quattro Dömi-Sek were more heavily citrus with lemon and grapefruit, and herbs.

The  Vinkara Quattro Dömi-Sek went quite well with a dessert Stilton I picked up recently in London and with chocolate; however it went far less well with peaches and nectarines. Shudder. That I won’t do again. But the wine I just might; just not any time soon…

Leona Bloom-The Best Misket

The Leona Bloom is yet another winner in the Misket family! I’ve only tried one wine from Leona in the past, a Kalecik Karasi/Merlot blend I didn’t much care for; however the Leona Bloom was quite lovely. Just sweet enough to not be dry, quite easy to drink and very aromatic with beautifully pronounced florals.

As with the previous Miskets, the Leona Bloom had a lovely pale, clear yellow color and floral nose but what made it stand out from the previous Misket wines I’ve tried was how strong the orange blossom aromas were. Since the orange blossom aspect of the Misket is my favorite part of the wine I certainly enjoyed that extra little kick! The flavor profile was also very much what I expected from a Misket (honeysuckle, orange blossom, a little citrus, and tropical) but again the stand out was the orange blossom and here also the honeysuckle. I do believe this is my favorite.

At about 32TL a bottle the Leona Bloom is a great deal. I think even people who aren’t such a fan of sweet wines might like this one. The palate is not cloyingly sweet-this is not a dessert wine. On a hot summer day this is quite refreshing. As with many sweeter wines this also paired well with spicy foods and would be able to stand up to not only Turkish-level spice but also the more exotic peppers and spices found in Thai and Indian cuisine.

Safir Semi-Sweet Misket

I am making it my mission this summer to try all the Misket wines produced in Turkey! And so far all of them are winners. Doluca’s Safir semi-sweet Misket is no exception. Before I wax poetical about its orange blossom and honeysuckle flavors, a little technical information about the Misket grape is needed, I think.

Misket (or Muscat for us Westerners) grapes come from Izmir along the Aegean. The wines they produce run the gambit between “dry” to dessert. I say “dry” though as my personal experience, with any Muscat, not just Turkish, is that a so-called “dry” Muscat leans a little closer to semi-dry than straight up dry.

The nose of a Misket will be full of tropical fruits, flowers, and citrus which are all easily detectable; and also apparently bay leaves and thyme which I have a harder time smelling. The easily drinkable flavors of honeysuckle, orange blossom, basil, roses, mint, honey, bergamont, lemon balm, daisies, grapefruit, and melon make this a wine that goes well with all sorts of cheeses (from mild dessert cheese to cheddar and blues), seafood, spicy food, light foods…and it’s just delightful all on its own!

I have tried several Miskets now from Terra, Ancyra, and now Doluca. I don’t have a favorite yet but I know there are a few more out there. Either I’ll hit on one eventually or will spread the love around to all producers all summer!

And less anyone think I’m just really well-informed about Turkish grapes, let me burst those bubbles by saying that (aside from my taste buds) all my information comes from the Wines of Turkey website 🙂

The 2012 Ancyra Muscat

In an effort to start drinking more white wines to match the warming weather I picked up a bottle of the 2012 Ancyra Muscat at Carrefour and fell in love!

Muscat grapes are of course more widely known for being made into dessert wines but you can find the occasional “dry” Muscat. Although semi-sweet is really far more accurate a descriptor.

With a pale straw color with a delicate, floral nose, a muscat’s flavor profile includes: orange blossoms, honey, honeysuckle, basil, roses, mint, bergamont, lemon balm, daisies, grapefruit, and melon. Daises, that’s a new one.

To me this is a really interesting flavor profile and I would have liked to been able to pick out the basil. However what I did get (the orange blossom, honey, and honeysuckle mostly) made the Ancyra Muscat one of those wines that’s going to be dangerous for me to keep around (and naturally I’m already 2/3 way through a second bottle already) because it was infinitely drinkable. The orange blossoms in particular really jumped out at me and reminds me that the next time someone is visiting from Lebanon, I really need to ask for a bottle of orange blossom water…

Like many semi and sweet wines, the Ancyra Muscat goes pretty well with spicy foods and, you know, it’s pretty darn good on its own. I see myself sipping a rather lot of this on my terrace this summer!