Tag Archives: Black Sea

Diren Les Muses

The 2009 Diren Les Muses

As sometimes happens when I’m not sure which new wine to buy, I purchased the Diren Les Muses based on how pretty the label is. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn’t. I think this time it was a bit of a half win.

The 2009 Diren Les Muses is a Cabernet Sauvignon with a nice ruby red color. On the nose I got, of all things, chocolate covered cherries. While at first it seemed a little weird it really isn’t when you think that Cabernet Sauvignon is known for its black cherry and dark berry aromas and that cocoa nib aromas can result from the oaking. It’s the first time I’ve smelled chocolate that strong in a wine though.

On the palate I got a fair amount of oak, the black cherries again, maybe a little jam? I don’t know what’s triggering the sweet in my nose and mouth but there’s something there. Maybe it’s the tobacco? Good tannins just on this side of chewy, medium high acid, and a long finish round out this big wine.

The Diren Les Muses goes well with the truffled almonds, natch. Does not pair well with Manchego. Beautiful with green apples, pork sausage, and truffle cheddar (as a combo but I’m sure individually as well-although perhaps not the apple)

I think I like it. But, as with a lot of reds I’ve had here, I like it with food but would not choose to drink it on its own.

Diren Gali

Diren Öküzgözü vs the Gali Blend

Today was to have been the last of my 4AM Twitter sessions with VinoRai and Protocol Wine Studio during which we were to compare the Diren Öküzgözü and the Gali Blend. I bought both of the wines on which the discussion was focused and was all set to drink two glasses of red wine at 4 in the morning. Unfortunately dealing with Turkish bureaucracy this week has given me a few headaches, including one last night. When I woke up in pain at 2:30 AM I knew I wasn’t going to be able to participate in the session. Happily at least I can read what everyone Tweeted and, since my headache finally went away, drink a couple glasses tonight.

My desk right now

Let’s start with the Anatolia-based Diren. I’ve had Diren wines before, the Kalecık Karası I believe, and I wasn’t a fan. The nice thing about Diren wines is that they’re everywhere. I picked up this one at La Cave in Cihangir for 25TL.

The Diren 2012 Öküzgözü was an opaque purple-red; very ‘berry’ in color. In the nose I got dark red fruits and spice, maybe some chocolate? On the palate…eh. I found it to be a little on the thin side. There were no tannins to speak of but a fair amount of acid and despite having only 12% alcohol I think it tasted a little hot. I could see this going very well with grilled meats, particularly lamb but on it’s lonesome it was not to my taste. Which, to be fair to Diren, I generally prefer Öküzgözü as a blend. One really interesting thing I learned though is that Öküzgözü grapes produce wines often compared to Beaujolais (which I don’t like so it makes sense that I wouldn’t like the Turkish version!) and can be served chilled! I’m totally putting this in the fridge for a bit.

Moving onto the 2010 Gali Blend which is a Merlot-Cabernet Franc blend (70TL at Solera). I heart Gali wines. They’re a bit more dear to the pocketbook than other Turkish wines but are worth it.  A denser color than the Diren, the Gali Blend was a dense red with little to no opacity.

Gali, which is located in Gallipoli like my bffs at Suvla, produces Bordeaux-style wines and in fact employs a French wine maker. The nose of the blend was swoon-worthy, dark and rich. On the palate-holy tartness, Batman! I almost lost the tannins because of the tart. I’m not sure if that was the fruit or a high level of acid but I would let this one breathe a wee little while. However a longer, slower sip, letting the wine run over my tongue, produced a fair (read medium) amount of tannins and a nice finish; very rich and full of dark fruits. This would love a steak. So would I actually. Sadly for me I have no steak on hand at the moment but this big wine did pretty well with what I did have for dinner: Parmesan and bread with oil and balsamic.

Oh Diren, I really wanted to like you but after drinking the Gali Blend you’re almost offensive. However I will put you in the fridge and we’ll see what happens. Until then I shall continue to play Vivien Leigh to the Gali Blend Clark Gable and swoon over here.


The 2011 Diren Karmen

The 2011 Diren Karmen was by far, in my opinion, the best of the reds that we tested at the wine tasting I hosted. From the makers of last week’s water Okuzgozu/Bogazkere, the Diren Karmen was a nice come back and puts Diren wines back on the map for me. From the deep ruby color to the tanniny and berry finish this one was a winner for me.

The promise of red fruits and spice on the nose did not let me down this time. Medium tannins, nice but not overly dry, juicy cherries and red berries with spices that went all the way through the flavor. This is going to sound weird…but the Diren Karmen did that thing red wines do where it kind of burns as it’s going down. Like good McDonald’s* Coke. I’m sure there’s a better way to describe that! I’ve always rather liked a wine that did though.

A blend of Okuzgozu, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Bogazkere; the Diren Karmen was a nice, medium bodied wine for a reasonable price (I think 23-25TL) and I’ll definitely circulate it through my collection again!

Side note: you definitely want to drink this within two days of opening the bottle. I opened it a couple days ago and have hit the ‘been open too long to still be good’ point. Now it tastes like raisins. Shudder.

Diren Öküzgözü Boğazkere

A few weeks ago I hosted a Turkish wine tasting for some colleagues. We tried eight different wines, some I’ve had before myself, some I haven’t.The four whites were: Corvus Kavga, Pamukkale Sultaniye dry, Pamukkale Savignon Blanc, and Ancyra Muscat. The reds were: Pamukkale Trio, Ayra Kalecik Karasi/Bogazkere, Diren Karmen, and the 2012 Diren Öküzgözü Boğazkere.

Of the wines I haven’t reviewed yet, I probably will not create them for the Corvus Kavga or the Pamukkale Savignon Blanc. They were not winners for me. The Corvus was far too dry and the Sauvignon Blanc too far left on the zesty lime-flowery peach scale for me. We will however talk about the two reds. So let’s get started with the Diren Öküzgözü Boğazkere!

The 2012 Diren Öküzgözü Boğazkere had a nice plummy purple color that only let a little light through right at the top. The nose was nicely spicy with cherries. That’s kind of where it all fell apart for me though. Light to medium tannins, medium dry, it felt nice on the tongue and I got a little hint of the pepper, cherries, and red berries but my number one note: watery. I couldn’t get over it; how “watery” it tasted! It was like they filled 1/3 of the bottle with wine then topped off the rest with water. This is definitely not a wine I would drink on its own.

For all its faults, I will say that it went well with my dinner. I had a spicy pasta dish and some strong goat cheese. According to the wine label it’s also supposed to go well with meat but I’m not positive it could hold up to all meats. Maybe a kebap, especially something spicy like an Adana…but don’t pull this one out if you’re going with a good steak.

We’ll do the Diren Karmen next week. And spoiler: it was much better!

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.