Assyrian Wine: Levy Matiat 2012

This was another case of letting the guys at La Cave talk me into something. I figured for 40 TL I wasn’t taking that big of a risk with the Süryanı Şarabı Levy Matiat. I am so glad it wasn’t a larger investment.

Süryanı Şarabı is a traditional Assyrian wine maker from Mardin, Turkey. There are very very few Assyrians left in Turkey, many have fled due to the Kurdish conflict which has hit Mardin particularly hard. The tiny population that remains has been trying to revive the wine industry which is both a fantastic and difficult undertaking. Not only do they have to replant vineyards torn out long ago but they have to deal with the very conservative Muslim local government and population which heavily restricts the making and sale of alcohol in Mardin.

Süryanı Şarabı has managed to overcome these difficulties and Assyrian wine is now fairly easily available-at least in Istanbul. Made in small batches due to its labor intensity; traditional Assyrian wine is made by stomping on grape filled bags which are left in the sun to begin the fermentation process. The juice is gathered and strained and…that’s pretty much it.

Of the several bottles of Süryanı Şarabı available at La Cave I chose the Levy Matiat. How could I resist a wine labeled with the Last Supper? A very appropriate label for wine makers who come from one of the oldest Christian communities. Unfortunately there wasn’t much else I liked about the wine.

I let this breathe for a full hour before we drank it. The nose was very perfumey: heavy sweet scents, spices, and dried fruits. In the mouth it had fairly high acid, little to no tannin, and not much of a finish. The flavor was…interesting. Actually M really liked it so E and I gave him our share. The flavors of the Levy Matiat were very much dried fruits with lots of raisins and prunes and one other thing that I just could not put my finger on. There was something so familiar in the flavor and it drove me nuts that I couldn’t name it. Despite being a dry wine it drank very sweet-but not like a light Muscat sweet-like a thick cloying sweet; rather like a dry port. I really don’t like port.

For me this Levy Matiat was a huge miss but that’s not to say it was a bad wine. If you’re a port lover I hazard to say you might enjoy this. It just wasn’t for me. As I have such limited time left in Turkey to drink the Turkish wines I love, I doubt I’ll be risking any other Levy wines.

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