Category Archives: Misket (Muscat)

Kayra Cameo Sparkling Wine

Turkish sparkling wine is fairly new to the market. While previously there may have been one or two, it feels like the industry exploded with them over this spring and summer. Now you can find sparkling wine offered by a variety of producers including Vinkara, Pamukkale, Suvla, Kayra, and others.

Previously I posted about Leona Bubble, one of the two sparkling wines made by Kayra. The Kayra Cameo is a blend of the same grapes but is a higher-end version of the Bubble.

Cameo

The winery’s name is taken from the Turkish word “kayra” which means benevolence, grace, and kindness. A family endeavor, Kayra has two main bases in Turkey, one in Elazığ and one in Şarköy. The Elazığ winery in Eastern Anatolia was established in 1942, and the Şarköy winery in Thrace was established in 1996. With assistance from lead winemaker Daniel O’Donnell, Kayra produces an impressive 10 labels each with its own unique characteristics.

Leona Bubble

Part of the Kayra series, the Cameo is a well produced sparkling wine made in the tank, or charmat method. Unlike the traditional method (think Champagne), whereby wine goes through a second fermentation in the bottle to create bubbles; in the tank method the second fermentation happens in a large pressurized tank. The sparkling wine is then bottled and sealed.

I’ve had the pleasure of drinking Kayra’s Cameo several times now. In fact it formed the basis of a yacht-board wine tasting I hosted this summer! It doesn’t get much better than drinking sparkling wine while on a private Bosphorus cruise!

Cameo

Kayra Cameo Tasting Notes:

Like many sparkling wines, the Cameo is a non vintage-meaning it is a blend of wines harvested in different years. The blend includes Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Misket. Between the lovely flavor and the relatively low alcohol (11.5% abv) this is definitely a wine that is dangerously delicious!

The Cameo has a lovely aromatic nose filled with delicate fruits and cream. White peach, citrus (grapefruit particularly), and pineapple all vied for attention. Bubbles are fine and tight giving the wine a nice, frothy mouthfeel. It almost feels like the flavors of peach, lemon pith, blood orange, and grapefruit burst out of the bubbles as they dissipate on the tongue.

So far my favorite Turkish sparkling wine is the Cameo! While it seems that sparkling wine is often reserved for a special occasion at an average price of 99 TL the Cameo won’t break the bank if your special occasion is as simple as opening a good bottle of wine!

Late Harvest Urla Symposium 2015

Many people I know are turned off by the term: late harvest. “I don’t like dessert wine.” “It’s too sweet.” For many ‘late harvest’ means a wine that is syrupy sweet; but it doesn’t have to mean that at all. Late harvest wines can be super sweet, dry, and everything in between.

The late harvest Misket Urla Symposium is an excellent example. It is not a dessert wine but a lovely, light, semi-sweet. So if late harvest doesn’t automatically mean sweet wine; what does it mean?

Late harvest grapes are just that. They are grapes that have been left on the vine longer than a typical harvest (an additional one to two months). When grapes are left to hang like this they slowly begin to raisin. A concentrated “raisined” grape contains lower amounts of water and higher amounts of sugar. The resulting juices are therefore super concentrated in both sugar and flavor.

The must from late harvest grapes is then vinified. While this usually results in sweet wines, notably German Riesling and French Sauternes; it doesn’t have to be. Late harvest wines can be vinified completely dry. Wines made in this style will often be fuller in body and more intensely flavored than they would be had grapes been picked at the usual harvest time.

Now that the lesson in late harvest wines is over that leaves the question: where does the Urla Symposium fit? Somewhere in the middle but definitely on the sweet side of the fence.

Urla Symposium

Late Harvest Urla Symposium 2015 Tasting Notes:

The Urla Symposium is a late harvest Borovina Misket. Its pale color and relatively low alcohol (11.5% abv) provide the first indication of the wine’s overall elegance. The nose was what I’ve come to expect from Misket; but more so.  Intense honey and orange blossom saved from being overly sweet by an underlying zing of lively citrus.

The palate was restrained; like fragile, perfumed gossamer. Orange blossom, honey, and lemon curd gracefully twine just enough acid to keep the wine from tipping over the syrupy saccharine line. Sweet for certain and slightly thicker than standard Misket. A perfect sweet wine for those who like

Kayra Leona Bubble

For years I avoided most sparkling wines. I found that almost all of them made me ill; instant migraine. Maybe I’m just getting more drinking practice now because that hasn’t happened in a while; freeing me to explore Turkish sparkling wines like the Leona Bubble.

Kayra, one of Turkey’s largest and most prestigious wine companies, produces two sparkling wines: Cameo and under its Leona label, Bubble. Both are relatively inexpensive although the Cameo (review soon!) is definitely the higher quality of the two.

Leona Bubble

There are six different ways to make sparkling wine: traditional method (Méthode Champenoise, méthode traditionnelle), tank method (or charmat), transfer, ancestral, and continuous (the Russian method) methods, and simply adding carbon dioxide. Wine Folly has a great article detailing each method; but briefly:

Traditional: In 2015 UNESCO awarded the traditional method, used largely to make Champagne, with heritage status. In this most celebrated, and expensive method, the base still wine is made as any other wine would be made then bottled. Then in tirage, the winemaker then adds yeast and sugar to the bottled wine to start the second fermentation and wines are bottled (and topped with crown caps). The second fermentation happens in the bottle. The CO2 gas created by the fermentation process has nowhere to go so it turns into liquid and dissolves back into the wine creating the bubbles. The wine is then aged, riddled, disgorged, a dosage is added (or not depending on the desired style), and finally corked.

Tank: This method, closely associated with Prosecco, starts out similarly to the Traditional method. However the second fermentation happens in a large tank. After the second fermentation ends, the sparkling wine is bottled without additional ageing.

Transfer: This method is nearly identical to the Traditional method until the riddling and disgorging. The bottles are emptied into a pressurized tank and sent through pressurized filters to remove the dead yeast bits (lees). Then, the wines are bottled using pressurized fillers.

Ancestral: This method of sparkling wine production uses icy temperatures (and filteration) to pause the fermentation mid-way for a period of months and then wines are bottled and the fermentation finishes, trapping the CO2 in the bottle. When the desired level of CO2 is reached, wines are chilled again, riddled and disgorged.

Continuous: In this method, used by Russian sparkling wine makers, wine is moved from tank to tank each with a different purpose. After the base wine is blended, the winemaker continually adds yeast into pressurized tanks. Wines are then moved into another tank with yeast enrichments. Finally, the wines move into the last set of pressurized tanks where the yeasts and enrichments are settled out, leaving the wine relatively clear.

Carbonation: In this cheapest method, CO2 is added to the base wine in a pressurized tanks.

Leona Bubble

Kayra Leona Bloom Tasting Notes:

The Leona Bloom was made in the cheapest sparkling wine method of simply adding CO2 to still wine. However it is still a pretty decent bottle of fizz. A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Misket; it’s fresh, light, and utterly quaffable.

The nose displays a balance of aromas from the three grapes. A slightly musty aroma underlines peaches, white flowers, and grass resulting in a bouquet that is both fresh and deep. Tight bubbles burst with the ripeness of summer peaches and florals for a warm, albeit brief, finish.

A non vintage blend, like the majority of sparkling wine, this particular one was bottled in 2013. With only 11.5% abv the Leona Bloom is an easy and enjoyable drink.

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 🙂