Tag Archives: Aegean

Paşaeli Sofuköy Yapıncak 2015

In November I attended another wine tasting lead by Şarap Atölyesi‘s Murat Mumcuoğlu at the Historic Pano Wine House in Istanbul. We tasted eight wines all by winemakers Paşaeli and Selendi. I’ve long been a Paşaeli fan and was really looking forward to this.

The first wine we tasted was the 2015 Paşaeli Sofuköy Yapıncak. Unfortunately I have no pictures of my own of this wine so I’m borrowing one from London’s alternative wine merchant Red Squirrel Wine.

Kınalı yapıncak is a native Turkish grape but not a very common one. In fact other than Paşaeli the only other winemaker here cultivating it is my old friend Suvla.

Sofuköy Yapıncak

Photo credit: Red Squirrel Wine, London

Yapıncak takes oak well but is not always treated with it. Paşaeli’s Sofuköy 2015 (the village where the vineyard is located) was largely fermented in stainless steel tanks with a portion aged ‘sure lie’ in oak barrels. ‘Sur lie’ means ‘on the lees’. Lees are the extra yeast particles in wine left after the completion of the fermentation process. Many white and sparkling wines are allowed to age with these particles as they add a creaminess to the texture along with aromas of toast, bread, cheese, and sweet, nutty aromas. For a full description of the ‘sure lie’ method check out this great article by Wine Folly.

Tasting notes 2015  Sofuköy Yapıncak:

So after that long intro…what about the Sofuköy Yapıncak? It won’t surprise anyone that I prefer my Yapıncak wines unoaked so this is never going to be a favorite wine of mine. In the nose this lemony yellow wine had a lot of fruit, citrus, and vanilla. The palate was rather too acidic for my taste but still with a creamy butteriness and a lot of sharp lemon, mineral, and floral flavors.

I let this sit a little bit and it really benefited, for me, from the chance to breathe and mellow. The flavors became rounder, the lemon softened and the flowers and vanilla were much more pronounced.

Selendi Sarnıç Viognier Chardonnay 2015

In November I attended another wine tasting lead by Şarap Atölyesi’s Murat Mumcuoğlu at the Historic Pano Wine House in Istanbul. We tasted eight wines all by winemakers Paşaeli and Selendi; one of which was the 2015 Sarnıç Viognier Chardonnay by Selendi.

Selendi is one of Turkey’s Aegean wineries located in the Akhisar district of Manisa (outside Izmir). The name of this wine, Sarnıç, is actually the name of the specific vineyard. It is not uncommon for winemakers here to name wines after the villages where the vineyards are.

Selendi has three vineyards in Sarnıç (Sarnıç  I – III). It’s in Sarnıç III where they have grown their Viognier and Chardonnay grapes since 2009. While located very near the sea, Sarnıç is not as hot as the surrounding areas. At 850 meters above sea level it is home to a microclimate that makes it cooler than its surrounds thereby providing a longer growing season and more time for the grapes to ripen.

Sarnıç Viognier Chardonnay

Photo by: Vivino

Tasting notes 2015 Sarnıç Viognier Chardonnay:

The Sarnıç Viognier Chardonnay is a blend of 60% Viognier and 40% Chardonnay. The paleness of color speaks to the only small amount of time the wine was oaked leaving the fruit to largely speak for itself. True to its Viognier (better) half it was very aromatic with a lot of fruity and floral notes like citrus, pineapple, and vanilla.

On the palate it’s clean and round with zesty acid and bursting with citrus and vanilla. There’s also a hint of creaminess in the mouthfeel which keeps the higher acid from being too overwhelming.

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.

Yedi Bilgeler 2013 Phytagoras Reserve

The Yedi Bilgeler 2013 Phytagoras Reserve is why I fell in love with this winery. The first time I had it was at Solera where it caught my eye both because it was new and because I really liked the label. I have enjoyed it several times since and included it in one of my wine tasting events.

Phytagoras 2013

Yedi Bilgeler is based near the village of Selçuk; home to the ruined city of Ephesus. Due to Turkish alcohol laws wine tourism next to impossible.  As a result the native wine industry has suffered. Possibly the best way to stay in concert with current law and yet still attract people to a winery is to build a concept winery. Yedi Bilgeler has done this. By building a boutique hotel and restaurant on site people can visit the winery, try wines in the restaurant, and have a beautiful place to stay away from the more touristy areas in Selçuk.

Yedi Bilgeler has several wines on the market. To my sadness I have only been able to get my hands on a couple. The 2013 Phytagoras Reserve has been my favorite so far. It seems that it’s other people’s favorite too. in 2013 the 2013 Phytagoras Reserve won a silver medal at the Consours Mondial wine competition in Brussels.

Phytagoras 2013

This is a big blend wine: Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Merlot. At 14.8% abv it’s not a shy wine either. Nor is it terribly expensive running about 75 TL at Cihangir’s La Cave.

Yedi Bilgeler 2013 Phytagoras Reserve Tasting Notes:

The nose on the 2013 Phytagoras is beautiful. There are black fruits, a little jam, spice, leather, and a little smoke. Soft, medium tannins on the palate open up to a balanced wine. Dark flavors featuring black raspberry, cinnamon, smoke, and leather lead to a long finish.

The 2013 Phytagoras is easy and enjoyable to drink. I’ve joked in the past that I seem to be aiming to set a world record for most visits to Selçuk (eight at last count). However after getting to know some of Yedi Bilgeler’s wines I am looking forward to visit nine!

The 2014 Selendi Blend

This 2014 Selendi Blend was another wine I tasted with Şarap Atölyesi at a tasting at the Historic Pano Wine House. I’d had this one before at Solera and was not exactly wowed by it but was game to give it another go.

With a blend of 30% Shiraz, 27% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Cabernet Franc and matured for 24 months in French oak this wine is not messing around. It means business. So does Selendi apparently as they’ve produced only 9,164 bottles of this blend.

Selendi Blend

Image by: Selendi Wines

Tasting notes 2014 Selendi Blend:

The nose of this ruby-red wine displayed some nice clove, black pepper, vanilla, smoke, and red fruits. These followed to the palate where I tasted especially the red fruits and clove along with some vanilla and something woody. The mouth feel was nice but it all seemed very medium: medium-high acid, medium tannins, and a medium finish.

Like several of the other reds I had at this tasting I think that the 2014 Selendi Blend is a good wine but after a few more years in the bottle it could be a great wine.

Selendi Moralı 2015

As part of a wine tasting with Şarap Atölyesi I had the opportunity to taste the Selendi Moralı 2015 which came on the market only this summer (2016).

Selendi, one of Turkey’s Aegean wineries, is based in Akhisar province of Manisa (near Izmir). It has vineyards in various locations and often names its wines for the village where the vineyards are. The grapes for the Moralı were grown in the villages of Sarnıç and Moralı.

After six months in French oak barrels, this Grenache, Mourvèdre, Merlot, and Cinsault blend is a very European-influenced wine; but the earth (toprak) and sun (güneş) are all Turkey.

Selendi Moralı

Imagine from Selendi Wines

Selendi Moralı 2015 Tasting Notes:

This was a medium-bodied wine with 13.7% abv and a purply-red color that reflected how young it is and thick, slow legs.

The nose-wow where do I start. Gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous. There was lots of green (bell) pepper, smoke, petrol, vanilla, and red and black berries. After a nose like that I was a little disappointed with the palate. Relatively high acid with light tannins and a medium finish it was somehow both complex and thin.

This is still a pretty young wine. I think it needs a couple more years in the bottle for the body to catch up to the promise the nose made. If that happens then this will be one heck of a wine.

Likya 2015 Merzifon Karası

Likya has a huge range of wines, including several varietals of native Turkish grapes that are really rare; including the Merzifon Karası. I put together an all Likya tasting in the fall for a group and wanted to include several of Likya’s more unusual varietals. In addition to a Chardonnay and a Malbec we tasted an Acikara and this 2015 Merzifon Karası.

Likya

Going with the Merzifon Karası for this tasting made me a little nervous. For one thing, it wasn’t a small investment. A bottle of this from La Cave will set you back 110TL. Additionally, no amount of Googling netted me any information about this grape. I still know nothing about the grape; although after having the wine I think it share some similar attributes with the more ubiquitous Kalecik Karası.

The Likya Merzifon Karası was far more of an approachable wine that I originally thought it might be and indeed went over well with my tasting group.

Merzifon Karası

In the glass this 14% APV wine is a very pale red, almost a brilliant fuchsia. The nose is lots of bred berries, raspberries, and pomegranate with light baking spices, vanilla, and cream. The latter was really interesting for me. Certainly I’ve both tasted and felt cream in a wine before but never have I smelled it.

On the palate there was little in the way tannin but lots of acid and a short finish. It was very juicy and just a little woody. It really mostly tasted like a raspberry-pomegranate juice box.

Not my personal favorite and I wouldn’t like to pay anything near 100TL for it again but I’m glad for the experience! Whether I like them or not, I’ve yet to have an out and out bad wine from Likya and happily doubt that I ever will.

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!!

The 2014 Ma’Adra Blend

After the rousing success that was the Ma’Adra Cabernet Sauvignon and the disappointment of the Syrah, I decided I might as well go for the hat trick and try the 2014 Ma’Adra Blend-a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. For 60 TL at La Cave it wasn’t as dear as either of the others so it didn’t hurt to try.

Ma'Adra Blend

A dark purple, full body in the glass with nice legs, the nose of the Ma’Adra Blend was really quite promising: raspberries, cedar, a hint of tobacco, baking spices, and milk chocolate.

On the palate the Ma’Adra Blend was initially rather sweet with jam, tobacco, and vanilla. The acid was rather high for my taste but the silky tannins and longish finish were nice. The more we sat with it the more flavors from its 18 months in oak became apparent. Under the jammy fruits was also a good deal of baking spices and caramel.

Yes that all sounds rather nice; but I didn’t love it. Nor did I hate; it was perfectly drinkable. However the Ma’Adra Cabernet Sauvignon impressed so much that they’ll have to do a lot better than the Ma’Adra Blend to compete with themselves.