Tag Archives: Central Anatolia

Gordias Kalecik Karası-Cabernet Franc 2014

It feels like it’s been neigh on forever since I’ve had a wine by Gordias. So this winter when I saw a new bottle at Solera I couldn’t resist buying the Gordias Kalecik Karası-Cabernet Franc. Not only have I not had a Gordias in a while but I’d not even seen this blend anywhere before.

Gordias Kalecik Karası-Cabernet Franc

Gordias is a boutique winery near Turkey’s capitol Ankara. It is unfortunately one of the lesser known boutique wineries and the wines are not always easy to find in shops. The Solera wine bar is my go-to place to source these wines. It is not however unknown abroad! Last year the Gordias Kalecik Karası-Cabernet Franc won a silver medal from the International Wine Challenge in Vienna.

Gordias Kalecik Karası-Cabernet Franc

Gordias Kalecik Karası-Cabernet Franc 2014 Tasting Notes:

As soon as I poured the wine I knew it was going to be lovely. How could a wine with that beautiful of color not be? Far more purple than ruby, the color is a brilliant, almost amethyst purple. The nose was very fruity with black currant, black raspberry, and bright strawberry with the slight bite of green bell pepper.

I think the Cabernet Franc provided some of the tannins that Kalecik Karası usually lacks for me. Smooth and round with a fairly long finish the palate was more involved than my impression of the nose led me to believe it would be. Greener and more complex with slightly jammy fruits, green bell pepper, and cocoa.

I thought it went really well with roasted tomato carrot soup.

Another lovely and inexpensive wine from Gordias.

Vinkara Hasandede 2015

Perhaps my biggest beef with the Turkish wine industry (well aside from active government oppression) is that I feel that many of the best wineries here put too little effort into cultivating and vinifying native Turkish grapes. Quite possibly five to 10 years ago this is what they had to do to attract consumers both domestically and abroad. But the last years have demonstrated that wine drinkers are drawn more and more to native grape varieties and winemaking methods.

Turkey is home to dozens of grape varieties. Certainly not all of them are cultivated for wine but many are. They are capable of creating wines with perfumed elegance and wines of power and structure. And by no means are all winemakers ignoring them. Many like Kayra, Suvla, Chamlija, Tempus, Likya, and more are not only vinifying native grapes but in some cases even rescuing them. However one winery has dedicated itself to making wine with native grapes: Vinkara.

Vinkara Hasandede

Founded by Ardıç Gürsel in 2003, the mission of Vinkara is to introduce and build awareness of native Anatolian grapes. Red varieties like Kalecik Karası, Öküzgözü and Boğazkere are made in their house, Reserve, and Winehouse styles as is the white grape Narince. Vinkara even produces blanc de noirs and rose sparkling wines called Yaşasın out of Kalecik Karası.

Located in special mesoclimate in the Kızılırmak River Basin outside the village of Kalecik; Vinkara’s vineyards could not be more perfectly located to take advantage of the Anatolian soils. Planted 2000 feet above sea level in sand, clay, and limestone with high mineral content the soils have excellent natural drainage. Cold, snowy winters and hot, dry summers with sharp diurnal temp fluctuations all provide excellent growing conditions for these native grapes.

Vinkara Hasandede

The newest Vinkara wine to cross my path also introduced me to a new Turkish varietal: Hasandede. Part of the winery’s Winehouse style, the Hasandede is a thin-skinned, medium sized grape. Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes describes this grape as “humdrum”. All respect to Ms. Robinson (who really is the master of all wine knowledge) but Hasandede is anything but humdrum. Or at least it is in the hands of Vinkara’s winemakers.

I first encountered the Vinkara Hasandede at Demeti, one of the best meyhane restaurants in Cihangir (Istanbul). My friend K and I were treated to a beautiful meal and wine tasting of both Turkish and international wines by our friend Ali. I’m a big believer in the “if it grows together it goes together” wine and food pairing philosophy and it is certainly true in the case of Turkish foods. The Hasandede paired beautifully with the

Vinkara Hasandede

Vinkara Hasandede 2015 Tasting Notes:

The Vinkara Hasandede has a surprising amount of alcohol (13% abv) for how relatively light it is. In the glass it shows a brilliant, clear, pale lemon color. Distinctive tears suggest the hint of residual sugar for which I think the Vinkara Winehouse wines are known.

The nose is initially reminiscent of a Misket; delicately perfumed with florals and citrus aromas. The development on the palate shows so much more than the nose. And edge of zippy acid balances beautifully with the slight sweetness while flavors of smokey minerality, cream, and gooseberry delight the tongue.

An absolutely delightful wine from Vinkara! Excellent for either pairing with food or enjoying on its own.

Turasan Kalecik Karası 2015

This Turasan Kalecik Karası 2015 was part of a shipment of wines I got from Turasan a while back. Kalecik Karası was the first wine made out of native Turkish grapes that I really liked and while I’ve come to love what Turkey does with international grapes more, I still try a new one from time to time.

Turasan is possibly one of the most well known wineries in Turkey. Certainly the most well known in Cappadocia. The winery produces a wide range of styles, grapes, and quality levels. I’ve mostly only had the wines from the low and mid price ranges but would really like to try some of the higher end wines soon. One of the things I love about Turasan is their Emir. Not a lot of wineries in Turkey produce Emir wines which makes Turasan’s extra special.

Turasan Kalecik Karası

On its own, for me, the Turasan Kalecik Karası was a little bit of a disappointing drinking experience. While it might not have been my favorite stand along drinking wine; it was a great food wine. It did go pretty well with our dinner of cold pasta salad with grilled vegetables, Greek pork sausage, and white cheese. Not all bad, and cheap (only about 25 TL directly from Turasan).

Turasan Kalecik Karası

Turasan Kalecik Karası 2015 Tasting Notes:

This is a pretty standard Kalecik Karası in the nose with aromas of red berries and candy. The palate is berries, licorice, and black pepper. Fairly well balanced but with something of a cliffhanger finish. One minute it’s there but the next it’s gone.

In the end the Turasan Kalecik Karası is a simple wine that isn’t going going your palate. Also nice drinking for the summer if you’re not quite a rose person (like me). This would not be hurt at all by a little chilling before you open it.

2013 Turasan Öküzgözü Boğazkere

It’s been ages since I’ve had an Öküzgözü Boğazkere blend. As much as I enjoy trying the native grape wines in Turkey drinking the same three reds (Öküzgözü, Boğazkere, and Kalecik Karası) and blends of the same does get old. I was, however, only too happy to take up a friend on her offer of a glass of the Turasan Öküzgözü Boğazkere that she brought to a Thirsty Thursday event.

Turasan OB

In the glass the Turasan Öküzgözü Boğazkere was a ruby red bordering on purple, bright and clear. The nose was dark/black fruits. On the palate it was very tart, no tannin, and little bit of a cliffhanger; something of a surprise for anything involving the powerful Boğazkere grape. It was a predominantly fruit-forward wine with flavors of blackberry and cherry but those dropped off quickly leaving very light hints of spice and possibly pine forest.

There’s nothing technically wrong with the 2013 Turasan Öküzgözü Boğazkere. If your preference is easily drinkable, unchallenging wines then this is right up your alley. For me, I like something more complex and structured.

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.

Turasan Misket

Turasan Misket and A Bosphorus Cruise

Recently I discovered that a new friend owns a yacht. And while I would love to be friends with the idle rich O is not idle, she and her husband have a travel agency here in Istanbul and the yacht is one of the services they offer. She kindly offered to take a bunch of us out a couple weeks ago for a Sunday Bosphorus cruise, and what goes better with a cruise than a nice, sweet wine like the Turasan Misket?

Ortakoy Mosque & the First Bridge

So on a gorgeous, sunny afternoon we all met at the Kabatas dock to board the Zoe in what was going to be a three hour tour (and don’t think the Americans didn’t giggle at that). Three hours turned into four and half as we cruised up the Bosphorus admiring the palaces and architecture along the way and stopping near the Black Sea, practically underneath the infamous Third Bridge, for a swim.

Anadoluhisari

Of course I wasn’t going to miss the chance to sip a wine as I pretended to be idle rich myself. It’s not everyday a girl gets invited aboard a yacht (although if anyone does have those days often please tell me how!). What wine would go better with a Sunday summer cruise than a semi sweet? So I broke out one of the Turasan wines I had shipped from the winery in Cappadocia: Turasan’s 2015 Misket.

One of the things I like about Turkish Misket (or Muscat as most of us know it) is that they are generally of the semi sweet variety; they’re not cloyingly sweet dessert wines. Turasan’s isn’t quite dessert-level sweet but it is sweeter than I like my Miskets.

In the glass it’s, a bright, extremely pale yellow and smells, of all things, like champagne. I love aromatic white wines and Muscats usually deliver in that respect with a lot of floral and tropical notes. On the palate there was little acid and it felt a bit thick however some of that might well have to do with the fact that I wasn’t drinking it at ideal serving temperature. A few degrees colder would have made a world of difference. The flavor was very nice following the aromas from the nose: tropical, citrus, and white flowers. I did not get the orange blossom though that I love so much in Miskets.

Maiden’s Tower

Pricing on this one is a little difficult. I ordered directly so I got the winery price of 28TL for the Turasan Misket. The Cave sells these for mid/upper 30s, and Solera has a mid 50s price tag. It’s worth the 28. At the risk of sounding like a credit card commercial, drinking it on a yacht on the Bosphorus, priceless!

The best thing about it? You can do it too if you’re in the city! The Zoe is for hire for private events of I think 10-12 people. It was recently written up in The Guide Istanbul magazine and you can contact them for hire information via the Zoe Yacht Cruise Facebook Page. Bon Voyage!

Kocabag Emir

Kocabağ Emir 2014 from Cappadocia

Last fall while in Cappadocia with my brother we stumbled upon the Kocabağ winery. I don’t recall ever seeing this wine in Istanbul so I took advantage of being there and picked up several Kocabağ Emir wines. Previously the only Emir varietal I’d seen was Turasan’s so I was excited to see how many Kocabağ had.

Kocabağ Emir 2014 Tasting Notes:

One of the things I continue to like about Emir wines is that it does not match well with oak so in all likelihood your Emir has been steel-aged. This Kocabağ Emir (40-something TL I think) was pale and brilliant in the glass with a lot of pineapple in the nose. On the palate it was light with some lively acidity, more pineapple, and faints hints of minerality which gave it a lightly salty and ashy flavor.

This is not my favorite variation of an Emir. I suspect that it may have been briefly oaked or had some oak chips passed through it. For me the Turasan is the Emir to beat and Kocabağ has not done that here.

Kocabağ Boğazkere

The 2013 Kocabağ Boğazkere

Funny story. Also kind of embarrassing…while I was in Cappadocia with my brother I was determined to visit the Turasan Winery which is just 10 kilometers from where we were staying. My brother was up for being dragged along so off we went to Urgup. After a really nice lunch we headed up a steepish hill and zig zagged through some street construction until we arrived at a şarap evi (wine house). It didn’t say Turasan but according to the crappy GPS on my phone we were where we were supposed to be.

Yeah, no. We weren’t where we were supposed to be. But I just shrugged and went with it. While they did have a few Turasan wines on the shelf we’d found a selling point for Kocabağ which was a name I didn’t recognize. The gentleman in the shop confirmed that it’s mostly sold locally and very few of their wines make it to Istanbul. So wrong shop but yay for learning something new. I was also thrilled to see not one, not two, but FOUR Emir varietal wines. FOUR. Before that moment I thought Turasan were the only ones making Emir varietals.

We’re talking about one of the Emirs today though (I bought three!) but about the 2013 Kocabağ Boğazkere.

In the glass the Kocabağ Boğazkere was a beautiful blue-violet, deep purple which I have recently learned is an indicator of low acid. The nose, which I really liked was full of black and dried fruits, raspberry, mulberry, clove, and a little leather.

After having my expectations built up by the lovely nose I felt rather let down by the wine’s flavor. It was a little on the side and with much lower tannins than I generally expect from a Boğazkere. That said, the black fruits, black mulberry, chocolate, and leather flavors and lingering finish didn’t exactly hurt my feelings.

Because it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be I would categorize this as a food wine. In fact it went beautifully with pork salamis and Parmesan (but NOT with sharp cheddar and green apples-lesson learned there).  In the end I give it 3 stars (on a Turkish wine scale).

Gordias Boğazkere

The 2012 Gordias Boğazkere

I fell a little in love with Gordias wines previously after trying the Kalecik Karası and Narınce. Then one afternoon in Sensus Galata I found MORE. More Gordias wines! Including a Gordias Boğazkere (55TL) and the “throat burner” Turkish grape has long been a favorite.

I really let the anticipation on this one build and took some time to enjoy the deep, purply red color. Then on to the nose; what is that? Seriously it took me about 10 minutes to figure out what I was smelling. It was so familiar but at the same time utterly elusive-until it hit me; pine forests and leather.

The nose is replete with pine forest and leather with berry undertones. It was fascinating. Not in a, I couldn’t stop inhaling long enough to drink way, but in an I said “This is fascinating” and smiled every time I inhaled way.

There is a lot of leather in the Gordias Boğazkere mouth, nice medium tannins, and a long finish. At first it was a little acidy for me but it opened beautifully to bring up more leather, dark cherries, and chocolate.

Drinking this wine was a true shpadoinkel moment. It is beautiful. In a way every sip weirded me out a little because of the pine and sometimes overwhelming leather (frankly it was a little bit like being back at my dad’s farm sitting in the tack barn which is surrounded by Christmas trees). I still really liked it though. I will definitely buy this again.

Especially since the Gordias Boğazkere pairs so beautifully with foods I like: tomatoes, salt, strong cheese, and the magical truffled almonds from Trader Joe’s that my bestest friend and co-blogger Lauren sent me from the US. She sent me a 6 ounce bag last Christmas and I have managed to conserve them by eating only a few at a time. There are still a few left! However I no longer have to be so parsimonious because she bought me two more bags!

Gordias Narince

The 2012 Gordias Narince

Now is the time I try to switch to white or rose wines to beat the Istanbul summer heat. Since I am really enjoying this new winery, Gordias, it seemed a good place to start my summer trend. For one thing, I really like the minimalist goat-looking logo. More importantly though-the wines are killer.

I’ve been a little on the fence about Narince wines; aside from the unicorn that is an unoaked Chardonnay, I’m just not really into dry whites. I am into Gordias though so when I found a bottle of Narince at Solera (55TL) I decided to give it a go.

The Narince is not a big wine, it’s a nice, easy drinking wine. Kind of like a porch wine actually. In fact, narince means “delicately” in Turkish. Often compared to Chardonnay, it’s a versatile grape that takes well to both steel and oak aging. In the case of the Gordias Narince, I’m guessing by the clear glass bottle that it was not treated with oak.

The Gordias Narince is pale straw with a lightly floral nose. On the palate it is soft but lively with light flavors like pineapple and plumeria and a lingering finish. The Gordias Narince is a light wine that leaves a lasting impression (a good one in case that wasn’t clear).