Tag Archives: Aegean

Suvla Kınalı Yapıncak 2015

Suvla makes three different versions of its Kınalı Yapıncak: the Suvla Kınalı Yapıncak, the Reserve Kınalı Yapıncak; and now even a Kınalı Yapıncak sparkling wine. While they’re all very different wines; they’re all lovely in their own respect.

I’ve had an earlier vintage of this one but either never made notes or lost them. This one I had again at a dinner party hosted by a friend of mine. An easy-going wine it pairs well with a variety of foods and is therefore a great bottle to bring to a dinner.

Suvla Kınalı Yapıncak

Suvla is a family owned wine producer established by Pınar Ellialtı and Selim Zafer Ellialtı in 2003. The vineyards are nestled in the historical Peninsula of Gallipoli, between the North Aegean coast and the Sea of Marmara where they cultivate a wide variety of grapes. The whites include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, and Marsanne. The reds include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Grenache Noir, Petit Verdot, and Pinot Noir. In addition Suvla produces several indigenous grape varieties, including Kınalı Yapıncak and Karasakız. In 2013 Suvla switched to organic viticulture. As a result they received a certification of ‘Good Agriculture Practice – GAP’.

Suvla Kınalı Yapıncak

Yapıncak is not an easy grape to talk about because it’s rather uncommon. To my knowledge only Suvla and Paşaeli produce it. It is a Turkish grape native to Turkey’s Thrace. I feel that this is a wine made in the vineyard and is terroir-driven. Suvla’s Kınalı Yapıncak and Paşaeli’s Sofuköy Yapıncak, both from 2015, are very different wines.

Suvla Kınalı Yapıncak

Suvla Kınalı Yapıncak 2015 Tasting Notes:

While the Suvla Kınalı Yapıncak is a pale, straw yellow it is still, at 13% abv, a wine to be reckoned with. The nose is delectable; redolent of white peaches, flowers, and delicate pastry. The palate is creamy and supple with white flowers and stone fruit with a hint of steely flint.

Really a lovely wine, the Suvla Kınalı Yapıncak is also attractively priced. As with many of Suvla’s wines you’re getting more than you paid for with this one!

Gali Saros Blend 2010

It has been years since I’ve written about Gali. Granted Gali doesn’t have the output some of the other wineries here do but considering how much I enjoy both the eponymous blend and the Evreshe Bordeaux blend it is a little shameful. So let’s talk about the Gali Saros blend. But before we get there, a little about Gali itself.

Gali Saros blend

Gali’s story began in 2005, when founder, Hakan Kavur, acquired 48 hectares of land in the Gallipoli Peninsula. The goal was to manufacture a single wine, ‘GALİ. They planted about 24 hectares of land with 78% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. In November 2011 they released their first wine, the Gali 2009 blend.

The 24-hectare vineyard is situated right where the Gallipoli Peninsula connects to the mainland and offers magnificent views of the Aegean and Marmara seas, the Dardanelles, and the Gulf of Saros.

Saros
Gali Saros Blend 2010 Tasting Notes:

The Gali Saros is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. After hand harvesting the organic grapes they are fermented in stainless steel and then aged in French and (other) European oak barrels. This was a fairly sediment heavy wine with a brick-red garnet color. The nose was medium intense with aromas of cooked fruit, chocolate, smoke, and meat. For me the balance could have been a little better; the acid felt quite high. However I really liked the coffee flavors that came through on the finish.

A Tasting of Yanık Ülke

I was recently lucky enough to be invited to the Galata Anemon hotel for a tasting of Yanık Ülke wines.

Yanık Ülke  was established by the Akçura family on the rocky volcanic slopes of the Divlit Volcano near Izmir. The terroir in that area is volcanic and similar to that of Mount Etna in Italy. They have 150 hectares (60 under vine) located at 924 meters above sea level. Their site boasts not only vineyards planted with an interesting variety of grapes but also a hotel and onsite restaurant.

Yanık Ülke

Yanık Ülke plants only old favorites such as Muscat, Chardonnay, Viognier, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Boğazkere, and Öküzgözü. They are also the only vineyard in Turkey, to my knowledge, cultivating Cataratto, Gewürtzraminer, Nerello Cappucchio,  and Nerello Mascalese. 

Yanık Ülke Gewurtztraminer

Vineyard manager Çağrı Kurucu lead our tasting of eight Yanık Ülke wines including: Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Viognier, Nerello Mascalese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Miratus, and Serendipity.

Yanık Ülke Viognier

Yanık Ülke Chardonnay Tasting Notes:

This is a nice, light Chardonnay from Yanık Ülke, perfect for people like me who don’t like a lot of oak in their white wines. A bright, medium lemon in color and a medium intense nose of sweet florals and tropical fruits. Medium-bodied with a medium plus finish the wine is generally well-balanced. It finish rather warm and really shows off both Chardonnay’s characteristic tropical fruits and the distinctive minerality from volcanic soils.

Yanık Ülke Viognier 2016 Tasting Notes:

I am unabashedly a fan of Viognier. I first discovered this grape while living in DC as several Virginia wineries are doing great things with it. Here in Turkey there are fewer options with my favorites being from Kayra and Chamlija so it’s nice to add Yanık Ülke to the line up (which also includes wines from Selendi and Kastro Tireli).

A lovely light but intense lemon color, Yanık Ülke’s Viognier has a delicate but aromatic nose filled with white flowers, yellow apple, mineral, and ripe fruits. A very soft mouthfeel and elegant fruit flavors make this an ideal wine as an aperitif or for summer sipping!

Yanık Ülke

Yanık Ülke Gewürztraminer 2016 Tasting Notes:

I am not going to lie; this was my favorite of the whites. As far as I’m aware Yanık Ülke is the only winery here currently experimenting with Gewürztraminer. This is one of my favorite white wine grapes so I was very excited for this.

Do not let the delicacy of this wine fool you! At 14% abv it’s bigger than it seems. The nose is aromatic; white flowers, ripe stone fruits, and tropical fruits. Sur lie aging lends a lightly creamy mouthfeel here carrying the warm peach flavors to a long finish. Don’t get this thinking you’ll be drinking a German or French Gewürztraminer; this is an entirely Turkish Gewürztraminer!

Yanık Ülke Nerello Mascalese

Yanık Ülke Nerello Mascalese 2015 Tasting Notes:

Nerello Mascalese is another grape that I’ve seen only from Yanık Ülke in Turkey. For good reason. This native Italian grape is best known for being cultivated on Mount Etna so Yanık Ülke’s volcanic soil is the perfect place in Turkey for it.

This bright, plum-purple wine has a fruity nose. Rich, full of forest fruits, sweet spices, and vanilla. The palate surprises with a little more attitude from this unoaked, medium-bodied wine. The slight bite of black pepper keeps it from veering too far into jammy territory and compliments the fruit flavors well.

Yanık Ülke Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Tasting Notes:

This Cabernet was aged in both French and (majority) American oak and I think Yanık Ülke has reached a good balance of the two in their blending. The different oak influences are obvious while being harmonious. The nose carries opulent red fruits, sweet spices, cinnamon, and hints of leather and perfumed violet. Fruit-forward on the palate with soft, round tannins and a slightly bitter, green stem finish.

Yanık Ülke Serendipity

Yanık Ülke Serendipity 2015 Tasting Notes:

Serendipity is Yanık Ülke’s Bordeaux blend. A coupage of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc makes it a classic blend. There was a prodigious use of oak in this blend. The Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot were aged in old oak and the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot aged in new oak prior to blending. Perhaps the wine needs more bottle or breathing time but for me this was a little like drinking oak syrup. Nose and palate are heavy with caramel, vanilla, baking spices and cooked fruits.

Yanık Ülke Shiraz Reserve 2014 Tasting Notes:

Yanık Ülke’s Shiraz Reserve is intensely purple-ruby color. I found the nose to be very floral initially giving way to big clove aromas with the fruit being almost an afterthought. The palate at this point is still a little unbalanced. Like the Serendipity it needs a little more time and patient decanting. The tannins are quite aggressive and there’s an acrid green stem flavor up front. The clove is very pronounced on the palate which I enjoyed.

Yanık Ülke Miratus

Yanık Ülke Miratus Oak Blend 2015 Tasting Notes:

When they told us that the Miratus was the ‘oak blend’ I was frankly a little terrified. After the oaky syrup flavors I got in the Serendipity I wasn’t sure what to expect from this blend of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Bogazkere, and Shiraz. Despite my initial trepidation I rather enjoyed this one. But first-what do they mean by oak blend? Each variety is oak aged prior to blending as usual, but the wine is aged in oak again after blending as well. The Miratus spends a total of two to three years in total. You can definitely smell the oak. There’s little subtlety as you’re all but swamped with aromas of vanilla, baking spices, and cooked fruit. However the wine finds its balance on the palate where hints of black pepper cut through the oak providing an interesting edge. The flavors are also a lot brighter than I expected after the nose giving the impression of a wine that is rich with round tannins, red fruits, sweet spices, and pepper.

Overall this was a really interesting look into Yanık Ülke. It seems they are doing some interesting things; not the least of which is cultivating grapes otherwise not seen in Turkey. I’m looking forward to getting to know this producer better.

 

Porta Caeli Ament Bordeaux Blend 2013

Porta Caeli is one of my favorite new wineries here in Turkey and its Ament Bordeaux is as hefty as the bottle is. But more on that later.

Porta Caeli is a relatively new winery. Based in Eceabat on the Gallipoli peninsula, it has only recently released its first vintage (2013). The idea for Porta Caeli came from a wine loving family. Knowing that Turkey is capable of producing wines to rival those from anywhere in the world they established their winery in 2002. After traveling across Turkey and testing soils in various regions they settled in Ecebat where they have 170 hectares.

They implement Good Agricultural Practices and GLOBALGAP procedures in their vineyards where 80% of their grapes are red. Cabernet Sauvignon leads the charge with smaller parcels 0f Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. The remaining 20% is dedicated to white varieties Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Viognier.

Ament Bordeaux

If you’re noticing a lack of native varietals you’re not wrong. Their goal at Porta Caeli is to make Bordeaux-style wines that rival not the sea of Bordeaux blends made in Turkey, but those in France. With assistance from flying winemaker Michele Roland this goal may not be as laughable as many who don’t know Turkish wine think. 

Grapes are hand harvested before being processed through the winery’s gravity-fed system.  A system that includes, incredibly, both steel and large wood tanks for maceration. Wines are aged for a minimum of 18 months in oak before their release. Currently Porta Caeli produces wine under four labels: Ament (red), Pacem (white), Felici (rose), and Porta Diverti (red and white). I’ve had just about all of them now and will go back for more. Even of the rose. I know. The world is ending.

If that’s not a large enough goal, Porta Caeli also offers onsite luxury. The onsite hotel is stunning. I kind of want to live there. With a spa and restaurant there really would be no reason to leave. Porta Caeli will also be premiering a line of gourmet products made from produce grown onsite.

Ament Bordeaux

Porta Caeli Ament Bordeaux Blend 2013 Tasting Notes:

I mentioned earlier that the wine is as hefty as the bottle. At 14.5% abv the Porta Caeli Ament Bordeaux blend packs a serious punch. But the bottle? I don’t think I’ve ever held a (standard-size) bottle that heavy before. When it’s empty it still feels full.

The Ament is a classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.  The color is a deep, dark mystery but if color has an aroma then this smells the way it looks. The aromas burst into the air as I poured the wine. Intense purple/black fruits, fig, tobacco, cedar, and baking spices with a hint of wood smoke curling through the nose. Big, full body with supple tannins and finish that didn’t finish. Sticky, dark fruits and slightly sweet on the attack with lingering dark chocolate. Beautiful.

I am absolutely Porta Caeli’s wines so look out for future posts about the rest of their collection!

Ergenekon Bona Dea Rouge 2013

The Sommeliers Selection Turkey 2017 is the gift that keeps on giving. Seriously. I discovered so many wines and wineries there that I hadn’t heard of before. It’s taking a little time but they are slowly trickling into retail shops in Istanbul now.

Şeyla Ergenekon, one of the founders of Ergenekon winery, has written some of the first and only books available on Turkish wine including: Şarapla Tanışma and Türk Şarapları. I’ve had the pleasure of reading both of these. The second, Türk Şarapları is also available in English as Wines of Turkey and can be found online or, if you’re in Istanbul, at Vinus Wine & Spirits.

Bona Dea Rouge 2013

Luckily for wine lovers, Şeyla established her own, eponymous vineyard in Çanakkale. Initially this boutique vineyard sold its grapes to licensed producers but now Ergenekon wines are available commercially. 

In their organic and biodynamic vineyard Ergenekon cultivates Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Grenache, Cabernet Franc,  and Sauvignon Blanc.

Bona Dea Rouge 2013

Ergenekon Bona Dea Rouge 2013 Tasting Notes:

The Bona Dea Rouge 2013 is a blend of Ergenekon’s red grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, and Cabernet Franc. Whatever they’re doing at Ergenekon they’re doing it right because this wine is beautiful.

The wine appears a deep, dark ruby in the glass. The nose is complex and displays black fruits, vanilla, sweet spices, sweet tobacco, earth, and mint. The tannins were initially like slightly rough silk but they, and the flavors, rounded out after the wine had a chance to breathe. On the palate the attack was heavy ripe fruits (blackberry) and creme de cassis moving to clove and coffee and ending in a long herbal finish of licorice.

On a final note; I was so surprised when I unwrapped the foil and discovered a glass stopper instead of the expected cork. After a little research I discovered that these new glass corks have been around for a couple years now. These elegant stoppers are one of the ways to attack the problem of cork taint, which is caused by the chemical compound 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, or TCA. TCA can develop in corks because corks are from trees, and plants have phenols, which are one of the ingredients of TCA. But glass doesn’t carry this risk. They don’t seem to have caught on a whole lot yet but I hope to see more of them!

Kastro Tireli Karkaia 2013

I haven’t yet dived fully into Kastro Tireli’s wines. Outside of the Narince-Viognier I previously reviewed I’ve only also had this Karkaia, a Bordeaux-blend style wine. However I’m so pleased to see that their wines are pretty widely available now. Especially as I’m a fairly lazy individual and still haven’t made it to their storefront in Bebek.

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. And then mock me with how great your experience was. Maybe then I’ll stop being lazy and finally make a visit!

Karkaia

Kastro Tireli Karkaia 2013 Tasting Notes:

The Kastro Tireli Karkaia is a big, bold blend of traditional Bordeaux grapes. This beautiful, deep ruby wine combines not only Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but also Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

The alcohol is quite high (14.9%!) so you’ll want to give this some breathing time or otherwise aerate it. Without the benefit of breathing the nose is initially quite tight and alcoholic. However once it does have a chance to settle, the nose is redolent with fruit and spice. Black fruits (black currant, blackberry, and black plums) are mingle with vanilla and sweet, baking spices. It’s saved from being too sweet any syrupy by a zing of green bell pepper. Beautiful, round tannins support rich fruits and spices on the palate.

Overall the Karkaia is a well-balanced and elegant wine that only increases my estimation of Kastro Tireli as a whole. I look forward to trying more of their wines!

Suvla Reserve Petit Verdot Karasakız 2012

As with the Suvla Sur, I’ve tasted multiple vintages of Suvla’s Reserve Petit Verdot Karasakız. Is the Petit Verdot Karasakız 2012 my favorite of the vintages? I honestly do not know since they are all beautiful.

Suvla is a family owned wine producer established by Pınar Ellialtı and Selim Zafer Ellialtı in 2003. The vineyards are nestled in the historical Peninsula of Gallipoli, between the North Aegean coast and the Sea of Marmara where they cultivate a wide variety of grapes. The whites include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, and Marsanne. The reds include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Grenache Noir, Petit Verdot, and Pinot Noir. In addition Suvla produces several indigenous grape varieties, including Kınalı Yapıncak and Karasakız. In 2013 Suvla switched to organic viticulture. As a result they received a certification of ‘Good Agriculture Practice – GAP’.

Petit Verdot Karasakız 2012

I love Petit Verdot. It is highly prized as a blending grape because it adds color, tannin, and floral aromas. However as part of a Bordeaux blend you never really get to appreciate it since it’s usually only 2-7% of the blend.

Petit Verdot is a late ripening grape. Probably for that reason it has never been used to its full potential in France where it originates. The Bordeaux growing season is too short to allow it to fully ripen. However, lucky me, the grape has made a resurgence and warmer countries are now producing varietal, or blend-led Petit Verdot wines. Including Turkey!

Suvla Petit Verdot Karasakız 2012 Tasting Notes:

The Suvla Reserve Petit Verdot Karasakız 2012 is a medium bodied wine with a full-bodied attitude. While not completely opaque, its dark ruby color hypnotizes as you gaze deeply into the wine; like it holds your future.

Blending the Karasakız with the Petit Verdot brings out some of the Petit Verdot’s brighter fruit and earthy flavors. The nose was ripe with blackberry and black cherry, walnut, cinnamon, earth, and meat. Gorgeous, velvety tannins seduce the palate with black fruit and earthy, meaty flavors linger on the finish.

As long as Suvla continues to produce Petit Verdot I will be there to drink it!

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

Nıf Sangiovese 2012

Nıf is one of the Turkish wineries I have only recently become interested in. This is due in large part to its 2012 Nıf Sangiovese.

Based in Ege, Izmir, it’s one of Turkey’s Aegean region wineries. What makes Nıf especially interesting is that more than any other winery here I know, it focuses heavily on Italian grapes. In a country which favors French grapes the Italian grapes we see here are few and far between.

Nıf’s wines are not inexpensive. They run a gambit from about 70 TL (the Nıf Sangiovese was 69 TL at the Savoy Tobacco shop in Cihangir) to 140 and above. They are worth it.

Nıf Sangiovese

Nıf Sangiovese 2012 Tasting Notes:

I really liked this Sangiovese. It was pretty in the glass with a brilliant, clear ruby color and thick, fast legs. The nose was very rich, due I suspect to the eight months it spent in both French and American oak and the bottle time it had. Scents of raspberry and blackberry, vanilla, cinnamon, and a nutty aroma drew me in.

The palate was full of slightly tart fruits, tobacco, and meat with an earthy, medium finish. Tannins were full and round opening up into an elegant and balanced wine.

Paşaeli Karalahna Rose 2015

I had this 2015 Paşaeli Karalahna Rose at a tasting with Şarap Atölyesi. Not being a fan of rose wines I wasn’t terribly excited to be tasting this one but it really wasn’t all that bad. For a rose.

Before we get into this one a little about the grape. Karalahna is a native Turkish grape grown largely on Bozcaada and in spots around Tekirdağ. It is a thin skinned, dark purple grape capable of producing dark red wines with pronounced acidity and tannins.

Only recently have a few producers like Paşaeli made varietal wines with Karalahna grapes. It was recently thought that wines made from this grape would be commercial unsuccessful and it was used largely in blends as a coloring agent. Sounds a lot like Petit Verdot’s Cinderella story, no?

Paşaeli grows its Kralahna crop in a single vineyard in Şarköy, Tekirdağ. For this wine, the grapes are fermented in the ‘sur lie’ method for about three months in stainless steel tanks.  What does ‘sur lie’ mean? Simply put: lees are the leftover yeast particles that don’t get eaten up during fermentation. Often these are filtered out of wines but if a wine is left to age ‘sur lie’ or ‘on the lees’ these yeast particles impart a creamy texture/taste. Check out WineFolly’s great article to learn more about this process.

Tasting notes Paşaeli Karalahna Rose 2015:

The 2015 Paşaeli Karalahna Rose is a very pale pink, watermelon color in the glass. The nose was very summery with big red berries and strawberries. On the palate I also tasted a lot of strawberry with a little creaminess (thanks to those lees!) and a light amount of acid.

All in all for a rose-not too bad. I’m still not joining the pink wine bandwagon though.