Category Archives: Sauvignon Blanc

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!

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.

Seresin Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Recent trips to Rind have netted me a few bottles of New Zealand wine; including this 2013 Seresin Sauvignon Blanc. One of the world’s foremost wine experts, Oz Clarke, once said about New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that it is: “Arguably the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world.” Far be it for me to argue with the great Oz Clarke! Anyway in the this case I wouldn’t because I don’t disagree.

I have a tricky time with Sauvignon Blanc because my personal tastes lean towards the riper style that’s more stone fruit and less green in flavor. It’s not always easy to find those or to tell what style you’re going to get when buying from a producer you don’t already know. However there is nothing to not like in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with its zesty and lively acid and bright (typical) flavors of gooseberry, passion fruit, and citrus. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc might just be one of my favorite white wines period. The Seresin Sauvignon Blanc I picked up did not disappoint.

Seresin Sauvignon Blanc

Seresin Estate is located in the famous Marlborough wine growing area on  New Zealand’s South Island. They follow both organic and biodynamic viti and viniculture practices. For example when vinifying their wines the winemakers at Seresin Estate use only the natural wild yeasts already contained in grapes.

Seresin Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Tasting Notes:

Serensin’s Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (13% abv) is a blend of majority Sauvignon Blanc with a small kicker of Semillon. While the wines were largely aged in stainless steel; 15% received French oak ageing. Clear, pale gold in the glass the nose was aromatic and lovely with hints of grapefruit, gooseberry, and acacia flowers.  On the palate the acid was firm and zingy carrying lots of bright citrus flavors.

Seresin Sauvignon Blanc

M and I paired this with spicy, Cajun salmon and it was beautiful. Less beautiful was the wine with strawberry spinach salad. The citrus and acid of the wine did not at all get on with the sweetness of the berries. As long as we remembered to drink after bites of the spicy fish instead of the salad it was all good. I loved this wine and would happily drop 99TL for it again.

Papaioannoy Roditis Sauvignon Blanc

Last autumn E&M visited E’s family in Greece returned with many many bottles of Greek wine for us to try, including this 2015 Roditis Sauvignon Blanc by Papaioannoy.

Roditis Sauvignon

I have had very limited experience with Greek wine before now. Limited in fact to pretty much just jugs of table wine from my brief trip to Athens. Those I would not recommend. I would however recommend the Papaioannoy Roditis Sauvignon Blanc.

Papaioannoy is an organic vineyard located in Corinthia where they grow grapes on the doorstep of history with vineyards located adjacent to the Temple of Zeus. Papaioannoy has 57 hectares planted in seven locations to take advantage of different soil make up and micro climates. They plant: Agiorgitiko, Cabernet Sauvignon, Roditis, Assyrtiko, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot, Touriga, Roussanne, Sauvignon Blanc, and Petit Verdot.

Roditis Sauvignon

Papaioannoy 2015 Roditis Sauvignon Blanc Tasting Notes:

Roditis (or Rhoditis) is the most widely planted white wine grape in Greece. Despite it being used for white wines, it is not a white grape. In fact it has pink-reddish skin. The wine it produces often has lemony or mineral aromas with zingy acidity.

The Papaioannoy Roditis Sauvignon Blanc is a light-bodied, refreshing wine with 13.5% abv. Pale, clear yellow in the glass the aroma profile was citrus, pears, tropical fruits, and citrus blossoms. On the palate it was crisp and dry, citrusy with subtle pear flavors and a honeyed finish.

For me this was bitter sweet as it were. The wine was lovely but we drank it at E&M’s going away party the evening before they left Turkey. Despite the sad memories now attached to the Papaioannoy Roditis Sauvignon Blanc I am eager to delve more deeply into Greek wines.

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!!

Papazın Şarabı Sauvignon Blanc Blend

I don’t actually know where the Papazın Şarabı and Palivor Çiftliği crossover happens. I did some light Googling and couldn’t find the connection but it was the Palivor Çiftliği logo that got me to buy this so whatever the partnership is Papazın Şarabı owes at least one sale to them. Truly I bought this bottle because there’s a buck on the label-the Palivor Çiftliği logo-and I thought it would amuse my Daddy who is a hunter.

This was not a light decision to pick up. Sure I got a giggle over the buck on the label but at 80TL from Carrefour this wasn’t a small investment, especially considering that the last time I tangled with a Sauvignon Gris I was utterly unimpressed.

In the glass the Papazın Şarabı Sauvignon Blanc-Sauvignon Gri blend was a clear, pale gold with a lot of citrus, white flowers, and a little oaky something in the nose. This one could definitely use a little breathing time as initially the acid was quite high, giving a bit of a fizz on the tongue like a Lambrusco. Once it opened up and the fizz died down though this Papazın Şarabı was actually rather creamy in the mouth but no finish to speak of. The aromas carried through to the palate with white flowers and a lemon/lime citrus but also with a little bit of orange at the tail end.

In the end, the 2012 Papazın Şarabı Sauvignon Blanc-Sauvignon Gris is a porch wine. It’s an easily sipable wine for the afternoon you’re out enjoying your garden in the sun and don’t want a super challenging beverage. I won’t say that it was worth 80TL, but I did not regret the money spent.

Sevilen 900

Sevilen’s 2010 900 Fume Blanc

I have never had a Fume Blanc before and had to Google to remind myself what it even was. A Fume Blanc is basically just a Sauvignon Blanc that has spent some significant time in oak. The process and name were popularized by Robert Mondavi of all people in the 60s or 70s. This Sevilen 900 Fume Blanc I found at Solera, no shock there. When they told me that it had been sitting on the shelf for three years, was the only one they had, and was in fact so forgotten that they didn’t even know how much it cost I simply had to have it. And since they didn’t know how much it cost they made up a price on the spot for me (67.50 TL with the discount).

Sevilen 900
Often when I buy wine it sits on shelf forever until I get around to drinking it. What I’m drinking as I type I bought a month ago at least.This one I opened almost immediately because I was so curious. In the glass it’s a beautiful, intense gold; pretty much the same color as the label. After having spent 10 months in oak and a few years in the bottle I would expect no less.

I really have no idea what was going on in the nose. This wine drove me nuts. I had three different friends try it, two of whom thought the bottle had gone off until they got used to the intense aromas. It definitely had not gone off but for the life of me I have no idea regarding the aromas or flavors.  Smokey for sure, some citrus maybe? It’s a big, full-bodied white with a long finish, low acid, and really creamy texture.

Sevilen 900
I have no idea if I liked this or not. This one by Seliven was my first Fume Blanc so I did not know what to expect. I now have another in my refrigerator and want to give that a try soon. I noticed that the Cave has the 2009 and I’m curious to try it…or at least ask how much it is! For the first time I have no conclusion one way or the other about a wine but I am curious to study this style more.

Umurbey

Umurbey 2014 Sauvignon Blanc

While I have discovered that Solera, my favorite wine bar in Istanbul, does not always have the lowest prices on bottles, they still win for service. I was in there not too long ago looking for more white wines for summer drinking and I fell into conversation with one of the guys about the variety of flavors found in Sauvignon Blanc wines. He suggested the Isa Bey but Isa Bey’s leans a little green and I like a riper Sauvignon Blanc. He kind of squints at me, tells me “I know what you want” then proceeds to open an 85TL bottle of Umurbey Sauvignon Blanc so I can taste it. And he was right, that was what I wanted so I left with a bottle of my very own (63.75 TL after the 25% to go discount).

In the glass the Umurbey Sauvignon Blanc is a brilliant, pale straw color with lots of pineapple in the nose. On the palate it’s got lively acid and has a medium-long finish. It’s a great example of a very ripe Sauvignon Blanc and is very fruity with lots of pineapple and melon flavors. It’s really gorgeous and entirely too drinkable as it turned out. I drank the entire in one night. It’s a good thing I work from home and didn’t have to get up especially early the next morning!

It paired beautifully with brie and prosciutto, although to be fair what doesn’t pair beautifully with brie and prosciutto? Being on the riper/sweeter end of the Sauvignon Blanc scale the Umurbey also paired well with desserts; in my case chocolate and butterscotch oatmeal cookies.

I get really excited when I find white wines I like because it is a fairly rare occurrence; at least compared to how often I find red wines I like. the Umurbey 2014 Sauvignon Blanc was one of those exciting discoveries. I didn’t just like this wine, I really liked it a whole lot. I’ll be back for more.

Smyrna

Smyrna Sauvignon Blanc Trebbiano 2014

The Smyrna Sauvignon Blanc Trebbiano I picked up a Carrefour not too long ago. I’ve never tried any of Smyrna’s wines and since summer is still on and I needed more whites I figured why not. This was a good decision.

I always hesitate a little over Sauvignon Blancs never knowing if I’m going to get something that’s on the herby and green pepper end of the scale (which I do not like) or the riper peachy and fruity end of the scale (which I do like). Because wine roulette is not my favorite game, despite how often I seem to play it here, I was thrilled when I detected lost of fruit in the Smyrna  nose including: peach, pear,  and citrus. It was also a little floral versus the herbaceous nose early harvested Sauvignon Blancs display.

On the palate the Smyrna was soft but with a zesty spark of acid. I didn’t get any of the green herbal flavors often found in Sauvignon Blanc; rather it’s a nice accessible wine with lingering flavors of tropical fruits, peach, and white flowers. Sure it’s not winning any gold medals any time soon but I don’t always need or want something that I feel like I have to mull over every sip. For 30-something TL at Carrefour I am happy to have a wine every once in a while that I can just drink and enjoy with my dried fruits and apples/goat cheese/honey and not worry about having deep thoughts while I’m drinking it.

This is my white wine comfort zone: fruity (particularly those peach and tropical favors), no noticeable oak, medium-low acid. I want to like some of those heftier, oakier whites*, like last week’s Son of Mirkwood; I just…don’t.

*Except Chardonnay. Why someone wants to ruin a perfectly nice wine like Chardonnay by aging it in oak instead of steel is beyond me. But to each his own.

Sevillen W

Sevilen W 2012 White Blend

A while back E and I trekked out to the Kanyon mall to visit Macro Center-a place I have avoided for two and a half years because I heard it was addictive. Macro Center, you see, is the import grocery store. In the end I was actually pretty disappointed by it. My local Carrefour carries a lot of the same things; although I was thrilled beyond measure to find large tubs of red curry paste! No more having to get people to bring/send me the itty bitty pots of Thai Kitchen paste. I was of course hoping that the import store would have a decent selection of foreign wines (and I heard that you could get them cheaper there than at La Cave)…

I bought local wines. Who goes to the fancy import store and comes home with local products? Apparently I do. The imported wine selection was slim and, like at many of the alcohol stores in Istanbul, it was a selection of the bottom of the barrel wines at top shelf prices. No thank you. So I purchased a couple Turkish wines I’d never seen before, one of which was the Sevilen W 2012.

Frankly I was drawn to this because of the label. I’m not too proud to admit that I often choose wine based on how attractive I find the label so, kudos to the ad people. This particular label reminded me of “Wicked” which has long been both one of my favorite books and musicals.

The Sevilen W is a blend of Semillion and Sauvignon Blanc, a blend we tried (in reverse) recently with Suvla. The W is a very pale straw yellow with a delicate floral, citrus, apple nose. On the palate it’s clean, dry, and with a long finish with a lot of citrus and apple. Really lovely. We really liked this one.

The wine went beautifully with our dinner that night of grilled vegetables, Turkish carrot salad (recipe below!), and…the Heaven…pork sausage. Which we bought at the Macro Center. I love you, Devil’s Meat.

I would definitely by the Sevilen W again. We all really enjoyed it and even as much as I love wine even I have to say that it can be difficult to find a wine that you like both with and without food and that is an easy drinking experience. I may even dare to blaspheme and say that I liked this better than the Suvla iteration…

Turkish Carrot Salad:

  • 4-5 large carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-4 big cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 500 grams thick yogurt (suzme if you’re in Turkey, otherwise Greek yogurt should work)
  1. Heat the oil over medium flames and cook the grated carrots with salt and pepper until they’re about half done, you want them still crunchy. Frankly I don’t know why you want to half cook them but the chef on our blue cruise (who taught me the recipe) said to do it. When they’re (half) done set them aside to cool.
  2. Crush the garlic cloves and combine them with the yogurt.
  3. When the carrots are cool, combine them with the yogurt and let your taste buds explode!