Category Archives: Narince

Arcadia Odrysia Narinca 2015

In the spring I attended an Arcadia wine tasting with Murat Mumcoğlu of Şarap Atölyesi. We tried a variety or red and white wines; one of which was the Odrysia Narince 2015. Wine made from Narince is not difficult to find; but finding one as special as the Odrysia is not easy.

Narince is a native Turkish grape. Originally from Tokat in Anatolia it is both a table grape and is used to make wine. “Narince” in Turkish means “delicately” which perfectly describes the wines it makes. Narince wines display sophisticated and elegant fruit flavors and are very ethereal and aromatic. They reveal aromas of orange, grapefruit, lime, white pineapple, quince, plumeria, acaccia, fruit blossom, basil, ripe green apple, and walnut.

In addition, the oh so popular grape leaf dishes in Turkish cuisine are made from Narince leaves. This actually presents an interesting conundrum for wine makers. While Arcadia cultivates its own Narince, not everyone does. Most Narince vineyards in Tokat are owned by independent vignerons. They then sell the grapes to viniculturists and the leaves to people who preserve them for food. The problem is that the leaves mature sooner than the grapes. As a result they’re harvested while the grapes are still maturing and desperately need canopy cover.

Odrysia

Father and daughter team Ozcan and Zeynep Arca established Arcadia Vineyards in 2007 to make and showcase terroir-driven wines from Northern Thrace. From planting the vines to vinifying the grapes, they insist on careful production methods and minimum intervention, so that their wines can express the unique terroir of their beautiful vineyards. Arcadia wines are all made from estate-grown fruit. In 35 hectares of vineyard they grow nine different types of grape: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, Sangiovese, Pinot Gris, Öküzgözü, and Narince.

Odrysia

Arcadia Odrysia Narinca 2015 Tasting Notes:

While Arcadia’s Odrysia is all delicate florals don’t let that fool you! At 13.5% abv this is still a serious white wine. Before bottling Arcadia put the Odrysia through only a limited filtration process. As a result the wine maintained its full aromas. The nose is very floral with perfumed plumeria floating above citrus, mineral, and quince.

Lively mouthwatering acid encourage the flavors to leap off your tongue. Citrus, lemon peel, plumeria, and yellow apple liberally flecked with minerals; like a lemon syllabub graced with a sprinkle of fleur de sal.

Gorgeous. I’ve had quite a few of Arcadia’s wines now and they have never let me down.

Kastro Tireli Narince Viognier 2014

Kastro Tireli is something I discovered only recently. During a stop-in at Comedus I bought this Kastro Tireli Narince Viognier 2014 (67 TL). I have come to realize that Kastro Tireli, an Aegean-based winery, is a much bigger deal than I suspected!

Since I first bought this white, I have seen Kastro Tireli wines pop up everywhere. I had also the pleasure of being able to try several others and speak to them at the Sommerlier’s Selection Turkey event. Located in Akhisar, in Manisa, the winery is influenced by the history of its location and by French and Italian viti and viniculture practices.

Committed to quality over quantity, Kastro Tireli, which began planting in 2004, does everything by hand. The winery is also dedicated to organic viticulture. If you cannot visit them in Akhisar and want a bigger experience than just picking up something in the bottle shop-head to Bebek where Kastro Tireli has a storefront.

Kastro Tireli Narince Viognier

Kastro Tireli Narince Viognier 2014 Tasting Notes:

As a first impression to a new (to me) vineyard, the Kastro Tireli Narince Viognier made an excellent impression. This was a beautiful and harmonious blending of the Turkish Narince grape and the French Viognier. The great balance Kastro Tireli achieved highlighted the strengths of both grapes without letting one overpower the other.

The nose was very aromatic. I detected both ripe tropical and stone fruits as well as flowers. A creamy mouth feel full of rich apricots, honey, and flowers was saved from being sweet by a lively acid. Overall this was a well-balanced wine and a true expression of the grapes and terroir.

Nif Aegean White 2015

Nif has quickly become one of my favorite wineries in Turkey and I’m always seeking out more of their wines. At the Sommeliers’ Selection Turkey I had the opportunity to try several which I picked up later from La Cave. Among them was the Nif Aegean White blend.

With the tag line “Bottled Happiness” they rather boldly guarantee the quality of their wine. Are the wrong? Not that I have so far found. The critics seem to agree. Nif wines have been winning awards since 2012.

Located in Izmir in the heart of Turkey’s Aegean region, Nif cultivates both domestic grapes such as Bornova Muscat, Narince, and Sultaniye as well as a vast array of international grapes. French grapes are the most popular here in Turkey but Nif is one of the few wineries tackling also Italian grapes. I’ve had both the Sangiovese and the Montepulciano Reserve and will post about those soon!

Nif Aegean White

Nif Aegean White 2015 Tasting Notes:

The Nif Aegean white is a blend of Viognier and Narince.  In the glass it is a pale, lemony yellow that doesn’t really hint at the wine’s power. With 13.5% abv it’s a fairly big white. The nose is really aromatic with citrus and tropical fruits, lychee syrup, honeysuckle, and something spicy like nutmeg. It has a silky mouthfeel with a solid acid spine. Flavors were very citrus driven with lemon peel and rich lychee.

I drank this with some brie I had on hand and it was gorgeous. The acid of the wine really cut through the creamy cheese. They were beautiful together.

At only about 35TL (La Cave in Cihangir), the Nif Aegean white blend is a nice wine for a fantastic price. I highly recommend this one.

Sommeliers’ Selection Turkey 2017

February 25 and 26 Istanbul hosted the 2017 Sommeliers’ Selection Turkey at the St. Regis hotel. Organized by Gustobar, the event brought together 179 wines from 34 Turkish wineries and about eight international wineries.

Sommeliers' Selection

It was, as one might expect, rather a mad house.

Sommeliers' Selection

That’s not down to the organizers of course. Big tasting affairs like the Sommeliers’ Selection are always a little bit of a mad house as one jostles for position at the tables to get a sample. And what samples! Wines from across Turkey, Italy, France, and Chile were available. I was impressed with the selection of Turkish wines although I was sorry to not see wine from producers like Arda, Melen, Umurbey, Kutman, or Gülor. I was surprised to not see anything from Paşaeli, Corvus, Turasan, or Prodom but somehow not surprised to not see anything from Chateau Kalpak.

Sommeliers' Selection

To my delight (and frankly a little surprise) there were several wineries there I didn’t know at all. One, the Izmir-based Öküzgözü Winery really impressed with its Öküzgözü Foça Karası. Definitely young, this was a bright purple-red wine with strong acid, and the flavors of red berries, cloves, and herbs. I don’t usually like wines made from Öküzgözü grapes but this one I would really love to find again.

Sommeliers' Selection

A HUGE surprise was Saranta’s Chateau Murou line. I tried, and liked, several of these but what shocked me the most was the fact that I like their Merlot. I know, right?! Surprisingly herbal with big red fruits this was, as my friend said, Merlot with a little evil in it. Definitely something I would drink.

Sommeliers' Selection

Of all the wines I tried I was the most pleased with the selection of white wines. I don’t often have good luck finding white wine that I like so I’m looking forward to picking up some of these, such as Nif’s Aegean blend of Narince, Viognier, and Solaris.

The 2015 Narince by Vinoluş, featured at the Sommeliers’ Selection master class, was amazing. Highly mineral with orange blossom, honeysuckle, stone fruits, and maybe some banana, this was a killer wine. Sadly Vinoluş made only 600 bottles of this so I’m thinking that I don’t have a fantastic chance of getting one for my very own.

Sommeliers' Selection

One of my favorites of the day was the Bona Dea line from Ergenekon-another new winery to me. I liked the red on offer as well but the cloudy, unflitered Sauvignon Blanc was light with crisp acidity and full of peaches was the star for me.

In addition to the general tasting I signed up for the master class with sommeliers Ronan Sayburn MS and Isa Bal MS. A complete departure from the tastings I’ve been attending, this was in English in deference to Sayburn who is British.

Sommeliers' Selection

With the two sommeliers participants tasted through a series of 13 wines selected by them [the sommeliers] during a blind tasting. All but one of the selected wines were Turkish. Of these for me the most remarkable were Likya’s Acıkara and Edrine’s Papazkarası. The most surprising? Mon Reve Marselan by Domaine Lucien Arkas. I have openly hated on Mon Reve wines before but this minty, slightly meaty, smokey red wine full of tart blackberries has me thinking again. Yet another wine that I need to find.

Sommeliers' Selection

I was surprised to discover how many people there I already knew from vineyard visits, other tasting events, or social media. It was very nice to see and meet so many people. I will definitely make good on the promises I made to visit wineries, especially Edrine and Vino Dessera as well as to stop in at the Kastro Tireli storefront near Bebek.

Not wanting to ruin a great event by getting drunk I did a fairly decent job of taking only small sips of wine and pouring out the remainder of the glass. As much as it hurts my feelings to spit and/or pour out wine there’s no way I could have tasted even the fraction of wines on offer I did and lived to tell about it had I drunk everything. By the time I got to the master class late in the afternoon though all bets were off and I no longer left wine in the glass. It probably would have been fine if we’d stopped there but there was still a little time after the class before everyone was herded out and most of the wines were left unattended!

Even though today I feel like I won’t even be able to look at wine for at least a week this was a fantastic event. I am so glad I had the opportunity to go and would definitely come back from Italy for the 2018 event!!

Isa Bey Narince

Sevilen Isa Bey Narince

My second foray into the land of Mr. Jesus wines was the 2013 Isa Bey Narince (35 TL at Carrefour). Isa Bey is a “concept” wine from Sevilen produced with the principle of tek bağ tek üzüm (one vineyard, one grape). As such they produce a smaller number of bottles each year than wineries that take grapes from other vineyards.

Narince is often compared to Chardonnay but other than sometimes sharing pineapple flavors I personally find them to be quite different. While it can be used to create dömisek wines, more often than not Narince is a dry wine with a sweet nose. The Isa Bey Narince follows this pattern with a nose of stone fruits and plumeria and light hints of of oak influence.

In the glass this light-bodied wine is a clear, pale yellow but with no hints of green. On the palate it is softly acidic and smooth with flavors of white peach and pineapple and light minerality.

I liked it more than I thought I would, frankly. However I do recommend serving the Isa Bey Narince on the colder side if you do not like the taste of oak in white wine. As it warmed the under tones of oak became more obvious and I found it to be very off-putting.

Chamlija Viognier Narince

Chamlija Viognier Narince 2012

I’m still excited over having found Turkish Viognier. There are truly very few dry white wines I can even tolerate let alone like and I thought Viognier was lost to me when I left the DC metro area. I won’t give Virginia props for much but they grow an outstanding Viognier.

So, it seems, does Chamlija which creates a bottle worth 90-something TL (from Sensus).  We’ve already swooned over the straight up Viognier so now it’s time to talk about the Chamlija Viognier Narince blend.

Pale yellow in color, the Chamlija Viognier Narince nose is a little on the flat side (often typical with Viognier) but there are soft notes of floral, citrus, and maybe a little grass?

A lingering finish full of flavor including peaches, citrus, white flowers, and maybe a little tropical something make this a very nice wine for sipping on its own or pairing with food (both Viognier and Narince pair well with spicy food). This is a medium bodied wine without a lot of pronounced acid but the textures and flavors all combine to create a very even and enjoyable drinking experience.

Between this blend and the earlier-reviewed Viognier I prefer the Viognier…but this Chamlija Viognier Narince is winning awards for a reason and you should check it out.

Gordias Narince

The 2012 Gordias Narince

Now is the time I try to switch to white or rose wines to beat the Istanbul summer heat. Since I am really enjoying this new winery, Gordias, it seemed a good place to start my summer trend. For one thing, I really like the minimalist goat-looking logo. More importantly though-the wines are killer.

I’ve been a little on the fence about Narince wines; aside from the unicorn that is an unoaked Chardonnay, I’m just not really into dry whites. I am into Gordias though so when I found a bottle of Narince at Solera (55TL) I decided to give it a go.

The Narince is not a big wine, it’s a nice, easy drinking wine. Kind of like a porch wine actually. In fact, narince means “delicately” in Turkish. Often compared to Chardonnay, it’s a versatile grape that takes well to both steel and oak aging. In the case of the Gordias Narince, I’m guessing by the clear glass bottle that it was not treated with oak.

The Gordias Narince is pale straw with a lightly floral nose. On the palate it is soft but lively with light flavors like pineapple and plumeria and a lingering finish. The Gordias Narince is a light wine that leaves a lasting impression (a good one in case that wasn’t clear).

The 2010 Diren Narince

The Diren Narince was a pretty decent Narince. I haven’t had many wines from this maker yet but this boded well for the rest. In any case I found it nicer than the Barudi Narince from a few weeks ago as that one was too oaky for me.

The Diren Narince was a nice light straw color. It was floral and mildly oaky on the nose. I guess I would describe this as Chardonnay adjacent which makes sense as Narince is often equated with Chardonnay.

There was definitely some oak happening here but it tasted, to me, more like it was treated with oak versus actually having been oak aged. Oak aside, the predominate flavors in this 2010 Diren Narince were citrus and floral with hints of pineapple.

Is it my favorite wine ever? No; but it wasn’t bad.

The 2012 Terra Narince

Turkey has a lot of great food. But you really can only eat bread and meat for so long. Luckily I have found fantastic places for Thai, Korean, burgers, and even pulled pork. What I haven’t found is decent Chinese. Not that there’s not Chinese food in abundance here, because there is. But every time I’ve tried it hasn’t gone well. So when a friend posted on Facebook that she made a fiery pepper chicken similar to the dried pepper chicken at DC’s fabulous Szechuan Pavillion, I had to try to make it.

The recipe is actually pretty easy and I only had to make a couple substitutions; for example I’m not even sure I could find Chinese cooking wine in DC let alone here. Substituting for that impossible to find wine was the wine we’re reviewing this week: the 2012 Terra Narince.

The Terra Narince (a varietal) had an lovely pale straw color with hints of green. The nose was sweet (-er than the flavor as it turned out) and floral. The hints of green in the color were echoed in the flavor with a little green apple. I think there was also oak (the Narince grape being Chardonnay adjacent) but not overwhelmingly so.

The Terra Narince was more dry than not and there was a fascinating taste of walnut on the back of the tongue. A really nice, drinkable, stand by white wine. Too drinkable as it turned out.

I blame the fiery chicken. If a recipe tells you that you need TWO CUPS chopped dried red peppers, TWO green chillies, and TWO tablespoons peppercorns…don’t believe it. But DO believe it when it tells you to just give everything a good stir and you’re done.

I faithfully chopped lots and lots of peppers and remembered to remove seeds and not touch myself until I’d washed my hands thoroughly, twice. I also seasoned the chicken coating mix (recipes never call for this but you should do it anyway).

Got the chicken frying in the oil until it was golden and slightly crispy then set aside and went to work on the garlic and green onions. Also when the recipe says “add all the hot stuff and fry for 20 SECONDS” also follow that. I let it all sizzle together for quite a while. I was all: “20 seconds? What good is that going to do? That’s just silly. Obviously I know better.” This would later bite me in the ass.

So after way too long I put the chicken back in the mix and let that sizzle merrily for also far too long. I didn’t know that yet. After I dished it up and sat down to see how the Narince did with spicy chicken (far too well) I was really missing my chopsticks. It would have made picking around the peppers and peppercorns far easier. Then I went in for my first bite.

Everything was cool right up to that point. My vision went black and I was sure the fire in my mouth was going to consume me entirely. I think I actually stopped breathing. I’ve been residually tear gassed by the charming Turkish police here in Istanbul and eating this is what that felt like.

This is why the Terra Narince slipped down far too easily. It helped cool the fire inside my scorched mouth. And despite the fact that I’d burned off all my taste buds, the wine still tasted pretty good. So I guess the website that recommended pairing Narince wine with spicy chicken wasn’t wrong.

I was literally in tears; I was crying, there were tears streaming down my face, and the friends with whom I was Skyping at the time were expressing varying amounts of sympathy and hilarity.

So lesson learned I suppose. Don’t mess around with timing when peppers are involved. Also don’t use an entire bottle of wine to quench the fire because it can make for an uncomfortable morning after. Good thing I’m unemployed and there was no where I had to be!