Tag Archives: Chamlija

Chamlija Blanc de Noirs Fume

In the semi-recent past I lead a tasting called the Four Faces of Papaskarası. We tasted four of Chamlija’s Papaskarası wines: the Blanc de Noirs, Blanc de Noirs Fume, Papaskarası, and Papaskarası Reserve. I’ve had the Blanc de Noirs before but this was my first go round with the Chamlija Blanc de Noirs Fume. It was not only my favorite of the night but everyone’s favorite!

I often feel spoiled as there are a number of wineries that ship directly to me; Chamlija being one of them. However there are a couple Chamlija wines for which I would pay the inflated retail price. The Blanc de Noirs Fume is one of them.

Chamlija Papaskarası

Papaskarası’s story is interesting. Papaskarası is a grape native to Turkey’s Thracian region with a history going back at least 1,500 years. It is not a well-known grape even in Turkey where it’s cultivated by few winemakers-namely Chamlija, Melen, and Edrine. Papaskarası grapes have the ability to make versatile wines that are aromatic, fruit-forward, and naturally highly acidic light bodied red wines and blanc de noir white wines.

Chamlija Blanc de Noirs Fume

Chamlija Blanc de Noirs Fume 2015 Tasting Notes:

I was really surprised by how light this was for a fume. You can see even in the picture how pale yellow the wine was. Even though I’d had the Blanc de Noirs before I really had no idea what to expect from the Fume. The differences were somehow both subtle and huge.

The nose of the Fume was full of white peaches, tropical fruits, and vanilla. In the mouth it was delightful. Absolutely delightful. Very nice acidity; fresh and lively. The flavors echoed the nose with more white peaches, tropical fruits (mango), and a hint of cream and butter.

At 12.5% abv and the refreshing flavors this was one of those wines that I call Dangerously Drinkable.  It slipped down very easily (perhaps too easily!) especially paired with the spicy chipotle chicken salad I was eating.

I see another order to Chamlija in my near future to stock up on this for summer drinking!

Chamlija Kalecik Karası 2015

My visit last year to Chamlija’s tasting restaurant near Kırklareli in Turkey’s Thracian wine region was more of a “flying” visit than anything else. However while there I discovered that Chamlija has a much larger range of wines that I was seeing in Istanbul; including the Chamlija Kalecik Karası. 

Since my visit last summer more and more Chamlija wines are easily available in Istanbul. La Cave in Cihangir has an entire wall section for their stock now. And I believe that the Chamlija Kalecik Karası is one of them.

Chamlija Kalecik Karası

Tasting notes 2015 Chamlija Kalecik Karası:

Chamlija’s Kalecik Karası was treated with French oak for six months and will age well for about 10 years. While the oak treatment was not extensive, it really heightened the inherent aromas of the grape. The nose was really quite lovely-black cherry, forest fruits, and chocolate.

On the palate the Chamlija Kalecik Karası showed a lot of earthiness which I didn’t expect at all. My experience with this grape previously has been more of the light weight and bright fruits variety. At 13.5% abv this had a solid, medium body with light tannins. And while it didn’t have much in the way of a finish, the flavors of mulberry, blackberry, and chocolate were quite lovely.

This would probably go really well with tomato-based foods. For whatever reason that I don’t understand, high acid wines want high acid food so tomato-based sauces and pizza would pair really well this!

Chamlija Köpek Gülderen – Dog Killer

A few months ago I held a big Chamlija tasting for a group of friends on E&M’s terrace. After our visit to Chamlija we made a huge order of wines and I basically ordered one of everything. One that I was particularly looking forward to trying was the Chamlija Köpek Gülderen.

Chamlija

Why was I so excited to try this particular Pinot Noir? There’s a Turkish phrase: “köpek öldüren” which means ‘dog killer’. This expression describes the worst of the worst wines. As in, it’s so bad it could kill a dog. Chamlija has cleverly capitalized on this very common phrase with a very clever play on words.

Their wine, ‘Köpek Gülderen’ is Turkish for ‘dog amuser’ . However when you say the phrase, because of the glottal stop of the ‘k’ “köpek gülderen” and “köpek öldüren” sound nearly the same. Especially to my amateur ear!

Chamlija Köpek Gülderen

Tasting notes 2014 Chamlija Köpek Gülderen:

The 2014 Chamlija Köpek Gülderen won’t kill any dogs but you might want to be careful with it anyway; at 14% abv it’s not messing around. The nose was full of black fruits, baking spice, jammy plums, and, frankly. alcohol. It was quite a lot lighter on the palate though than any of us expected. We still got a lot of the fruits and sweeter spices but also a little dried fig.

Not my favorite wine ever but I admire the marketing strategy!

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!!

Chamlija Thracian Red Blend

The 2013 Chamlija Thracian … where has this been all my life? This, for me, is hands down one of the top wines being produced in Turkey right now and is one of my two absolute favorites here. I’m so overwhelmed by this one that I’m a little at loss for even where to start with this.

Over the summer I visited Chamlija’s tasting restaurant where we had the privilege to do a tasting with founder and owner Mustafa Çamlıca. While we didn’t taste this there, we did discover that Chamlija makes many more wines than I’ve ever found in Istanbul. The best news? They ship! Which is particularly relevant to this wine as I haven’t ever seen it anywhere in the city.

Chamlija Thracian

I’m not going to lie-the price tag on the Chamlija Thracian is a little on the steep side; 125TL. However if you order (minimum one case) then you get a 20% discount knocking this down to 100TL. I’ve ordered from Chamlija now three times* I think including at least half a dozen of the Thracian!

The first time I had this I’d brought it out to drink with some friends. They were a little cautious and wanted to make sure that I was happy to open a special bottle with them instead of keeping it for myself. No! Of course I want to share this with friends who appreciate wine! Then I tried and immediately kicked myself for not keeping it back for me! Really though, if you want to impress your friends with an amazing wine (intentionally or not!)

Chamlija Thracian

So what makes the Chamlija Thracian so incredible? Magic obviously. Seriously though this blend of 47% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Cabernet Franc impresses in the glass with its dark, inky red color. The nose is very complex and the more time you take with it the ore you discover; including: green bell peppers and green peppercorn, chocolate, clove, and smoke.

The palate is…wowza. Absolutely gorgeous, suede-like tannins that are just this side of being grippy. My favorite kind! A strong acidic backbone balances well with the tannins and helps carry the very long finish. This was the 2013 bottled in 2015 and it was amazing. I’m guessing it will age well for another 10 years give or take. I would love to put up a few bottles and compare them in five and then 10 years.

The flavors on the palate are similar to the nose but continue to evolve. In addition to a lot of the nose aromas there is also gun powder, fruit cake, and baking spices. This is an absolutely crazy, amazing wine and I could not more strongly recommend you figure out how to get a bottle of it!

*My goal may be to become a professional wino but I do just want to put out it out there that not all 36 bottles have been for me!

Chamlija Felix Culpa Pinot Noir

My first encounter with the Chamlija Felix Culpa happened in the same way I discovered many of Chamlija’s wines…there was one bottle, just the one, sitting on the shelf at La Cave. Anytime that happens with a wine maker I really like I get the bottle and I was so glad I did that with the Felix Cupla.

Which was another thing that attracted me to this one. Felix Culpa / Mutlu Hata (happy mistake)…why that name? The grape is a Pinot Noir but this isn’t Chaamlija’s Pinot Noir wine. Chamlija has two Felix Culpa wines-one this Pinot Noir and the other a Chardonnay and while I did not learn this until later; they’re thusly named because these were a bit of an experiment and were left unfiltered.  So it was a “happy mistake” that they turned out so beautiful!

Well at least the Chamlija Felix Culpa Pinot Noir is beautiful. I’m not sure I’d willingly drink a Chardonnay made even by Chamlija.

Chamlija Felix Culpa

The first time bottle of this I had my friends and I practically came to blows over who was going to get to finish it. We had this is part of the very first tasting I lead here in Istanbul and it was far and away the favorite of the evening. Unfortunately I had bought what was possibly the only bottle in the city.

However as I was lucky enough over the summer to discover, Chamlija ships! So I promptly ordered a few more of these! Two went to an all Chamlija tasting I did this fall and one was for me.

Chamlija Felix Culpa

At 75TL from the La Cave-which is actually the buy direct price from Chamlija as well (or 60TL if you’ve ordered a case for delivery) you get a really special Pinot Noir. The nose is very fruity with lots of raspberry, blueberry, and clove. On the palate medium tannins and a medium long finish add milk chocolate and earthy flavors; potting soil and maybe a little mushroom?

I always want to like Pinot Noir as I think it has an interesting flavor profile; unfortunately I never really do. To me Pinot Noir sounds like a good idea but ends up being too thin. The Chamlija Felix Culpa on the other hand is indeed a happy mistake. I can only assume that the lack of filtration has added a depth that (I think) Pinot Noir lacks.

Whether you order this from Chamlija or manage to hunt it down in the city it’s well worth the effort!

2014 Chamlija Cabernet Franc

While Sherlock seemed utterly unmoved by this wine; I was not. I’m not usually a huge fan of Cabernet Franc but when Mustafa Çamlica, the owner of the Chamlija winery, suggested I try the 2014 Chamlija Cabernet Franc I wasn’t going to argue. I am so glad I took his advice.

Chamlija Cabernet Franc

This slightly opaque, bright, garnet red Chamlija Cabernet Franc (found at La Cave for 95 TL) has a nose redolent of dried strawberries, mint, green peppercorn, jalepeno, and green bell pepper. The palate is smooth tannins, mouth-watering acid, and a long finish with lots of spicy and pepper flavors backed up with raspberry and blackberry fruits.

Chamlija Cabernet Franc

My notes have ‘so nice’ written and underlined several times. I will definitely be buying the Chamlija Cabernet Franc again!

I love the way Chamlija describes their wines on the labels: the wines introduce themselves. This Cabernet Franc tells us that it is all from one vineyard, was picked by the first light on dawn on the 21st of October, and will age well until 2025. Although why you would wait until 2025 to drink this is beyond me because I think it’s already gorgeous in 2016-but whichever year you choose, this is a wine to fall in love with.

Chamlija Tasting

Visiting Edirne and Chamlija’s Blanc de Noirs

A few weeks ago E&M, R, and I headed out of Istanbul. None of us had ever been to Edirne, the old second capitol of the Empire, and on a roll after Bozcaada, I wanted to visit a few area wineries, particularly Chamlija. So we rented a car and headed out to adventure.

 

Adventure that was made both hilarious and painful long before we ever got to our destination thanks to Google Maps’ incredibly bad Turkish pronunciation. I realize it’s just a computer but come on. I mean think goodness I wasn’t the navigator because I truly had no idea what she was saying.

View of the Mosque of Three Balconies from our hotel
Monument to Mimar Sinan by his greatest mosque

Once we got into Edirne it took several wrong turns, arguing with Google Maps’ bad Turkish, and asking directions twice to find our hotel. But once we got there and checked in we set off on a short walk to the Selimiye Mosque. Our first priority was the museums as our guidebooks said they were closed on Monday. The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts is in the mosque’s courtyard which oddly enough made it even more difficult for us to find! We were not having good luck with Google Maps that day. Eventually find it we did and we went in to wander the air conditioned, glassed in corridors that wrap around a courtyard holding old marbles. Several of the displays included tableau of old Ottoman and Turkish life. My favorite being the section on the traditional oil wrestling where there was even a holograph showing a wrestling ceremony.

They’re supposed to be wrestling but it looks cannibalistic to me!

From here we wandered across the street to the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum where we discovered more tableau, examples of traditional painting on wood, marbles, statues, and religious bits and bobs from the various cultures that passed through Edirne (once Greek Adrianopole).

It was then time to visit the Selimiye Mosque-once of the greatest of all the Ottoman mosque complexes and a triumph for the leading Ottoman architect: Mimar Sinan. Completed in 1575, a year after his death, the dome of the mosque is six cubits wider and four deeper than that of the Haghia Sofia.

It’s a truly stunning creation both architecturally and in its decoration. This is probably my second favorite mosque in Turkey after the Rustem Pasa Mosque in Istanbul. I know, I know…the Blue Mosque blah blah blah-it’s nice but there are others that are better and this is definitely one of them.

On our way to Edirne we made a slight detour to visit one of my favorite wineries in Turkey-Chamlija. Not only do I rarely have a bad word to say about Chamlija wines, I almost hands down love (barring Chardonnay which I don’t like in general and to be fair have never tried Chamlija’s). We were greeted by owner, the charming Mustafa Camlica who runs the vineyards that are dotted around Kirklareli. We sat down to do a tasting and he brought out four wines saying with a grin that we would be “starting with your favorite” as he brandished a bottle of their Albarino. It’s true, it is (at least one of!) my favorite. So much so that I’ve blogged about it twice. However this wasn’t just the Albarino-we were treated to a tasting of Chamlija’s new 2015 Alvarinho Reserve. This was followed by the 2015 Papaskarasi (I’ve previously reviewed the 2014), the 2015 Mavrud, and the 2015 Öküzgözü-Boğazkere. Be on the lookout for tasting notes on these at a later date!

Before leaving Chamlija we made plans to order (they deliver to Istanbul if you buy a case!) and also bought a few bottles to go. One of which was the Karıştıran Bağları. You won’t find this wine on the order list as it’s one of two made really just for the local market but since we were there and being locals for the afternoon we bought a bottle. After a long day of driving and exploring we retired early to our hotel with some pide and Chamlija wines.

The Karıştıran Bağları is a 2015 blend of Pinot Noirs. In the nose there were a lot of black fruits like plum and blueberry as well as nail polish and maybe some gun smoke. It was slightly effervescent when we first took out the cork but as the wine opened and warmed up (we’d put in the fridge since “room temperature” that day was 38!) it smoothed out and the fizziness dissipated. No tannins or finish to speak of this was definitely the local wine-but it was fun to try!

Several cuts above the local wine was the 2015 Blanc de Noirs. A white wine made with Papaskarası (i.e. red) grapes, this was truly gorgeous. Go out and buy this now. Like right now.

Pale clear yellow in the glass it had a delicate citrus and tropical nose with possibly some floral elements. On the palate it was clean with some lively acid, an excellent finish, and flavors of peaches, tropical fruits, and lemon. Too easy to drink; this Papaskarası Blanc De Noirs by Chamlija definitely gets tagged as being #dangerouslydrinkable.

Day one in Edirne was a success! During day two we’ll visit more mosques, attempt to round out our religious experience with a church and a synagogue, and visit a boutique winery!

Chamlija Albarino

Chamlija Albarino – Take Two

Turkish wine post on not #WineWednesday…what is happening?! It turns out that I already discovered the 2014 Chamlija Albarino last summer and then somehow forgot about it. While that means I went a year without enjoying it, I had the pleasure of discovering it all over again! And since I did not realize that I’d already posted about this Albarino until after I wrote this post I decided to publish this anyway to compare my impressions. That and anything from Chamlija is worth a second look!

The Chamlija Albarino seemed to have the typical flavor profile of a warm climate Albarino: tropical nose with peach, apricot, orange marmalade, white flowers, and minerals. On the tongue it has a sparkling acidity, low body, lots of fruit, and very peachy lemony flavors with some mineral elements coming in at the end.

In the past I’ve found it difficult to pair wine things like Thai and Indian food. This is when Albarino, a medium-dry wine, is your friend! I paired Chamlija’s with two different dishes: chicken baked in yogurt and Indian tandoori spices and a Thai sweet potato red curry. It was perfect with both of them.

The first bottle I bought was from Cihangir’s La Cave for 95TL. This one I bought at Solera for considerably less. So, Chamlija Albarino? Yes please! This time I shall not forget you!

Chamlija Sui Generis

2012 Chamlija Sui Generis

The new Chamlija Sui Generis is a study in how important it is to let your wines breathe. I started out completely turned off by this one only to do a complete reversal the next day. But before we get to my Saint Paul*-like conversion…the pertinents.

A little more expensive than the average bottle of Chamlija, a bottle of Sui Generis will set you back 105 TL, unless you get it from Solera like I did where you get a 25% discount when you buy a bottle to go. Before 10PM of course when Turkey’s no alcohol sale law kicks in. The Chamlija Sui Generis is a blend of Cabernet Franc 42%, Merlot 32%, and Cabernet Sauvignon 26% that has spent a fair amount of time in French oak.

In the glass it was a dark, inky red color. The nose was huge with more things than I could identify however I think I managed to pick out scents of black fruit and berries, cocoa, something floral or sweet tobacco…there was something giving it a sweet scent. Of course I could just be making up all that. I do like to make up things. Before it properly opened the low tannins and higher acid did not balance well and my take away was that it tasted a lot like a liquor-filled chocolate. And while I like chocolate, a lot, I usually spit out the liquor-filled ones.

I was prepared to say that I liked this on principal alone. Much like my relationship with Suvla’s wines I’m pretty well in love with Chamlija’s wines and defend their honor to any who dare impugn it. That said I almost dumped the remainder a day later because apparently my principles only go so far. Instead of throwing it out I decided to give it one more try. Chamlija has not let me down so far and I couldn’t accept that it had this time, especially when the Sui Generis comes with such a fantastic label.

Gorgeous. The fact that I could do such a 180 on my opinion makes me think I need to be better about letting my wines breathe a bit before diving in. I think I’ll get a decanter or see if someone in a more normal country will send me an aerator. Once it had breathed properly the acid settled down and the black fruits and tobacco created a big, bold flavor with a delightfully long finish.

One of the things I love about Chamlija wines is the bottle descriptions. I’ve mentioned before how much I love the poetry of Suvla’s descriptions but Chamlija goes another way. Their wines introduce themselves which I find fantastically charming. Merhaba, ben Sui Generis (Hello, I am Sui Generis) begins the back of this label.

*I think in fact that I like the Chamlija Sui Generis better than I like Saint Paul. I’ve always found him rather pretentious.