Tag Archives: Chateau Kalpak

Chateau Kalpak BBK 2011

Even before our trip to Chateau Kalpak with Em and AJ I’d had a few of their wines. One of them being the AWC Gold Medal winner BBK 2011.

Chateau Kalpak is the love child of Bülent Kalpaklıoğlu who began developing the vineyard in 2003. It was not until 2010 that he released his first vintage. His goal for Chateau Kalpak is to create a single chateau-style wine from a single vineyard. In order to achieve this, he picked the best root-stocks and clones of the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot to match the vineyard terrior.

Only two blends are released annually: Chateau Kalpak and BBK. They harvest, ferment, and age (30-36 months) each parcel (about 1 hectar) separately. At Chateau Kalpak they use Hungarian oak barriques made out of wood selected for their balance, bouquet, and character. This establishes the basis of their “Chateau Wine”. From their they spend months conducting extensive blend studies for the Chateau Kalpak label. The remaining wines are re-blended to create the BBK label.

BBK 2011

Chateau Kalpak’s story and process are absolutely worth a deeper look and I suggest checking out the website (link above). Bülent Bey elevates wine making to a form of fine art with his thoughtfulness and attention to detail. All of which has paid off for him. Not only does he make beautiful wine but he has the gold medals to prove it. Chateau Kalpak is the only vineyard in Turkey to win a three star rating (2014) from the International Wine Challenge (AWC) in Vienna. Additionally they received six gold and three silver medals from the AWC and three gold medals from the Concours Mondial Bruxelles.

Chateau Kalpak BBK 2011 Tasting Notes:

The BBK might be Chateau Kalpak’s second wine but that in no way means it’s an inferior wine. In fact personally I liked the BBK 2011 more than I did the same vintage Chateau Kalpak. A bold blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot with a 14.7% abv, the BBK 2011 is a wine to be taken seriously.

The nose is a dark, romantic mystery. Aromas of black fruit, baking spices, dark chocolate, and mocha wrap your senses like a silken cocoon. Beautifully balanced with velvety tannins, the BBK held us in thrall and continued to develop and open as we sank into its spell. In addition to the black fruits and dark chocolate from the nose; clove, vanilla, and caramel each vied for their turn to take center stage. The long finish lingered with flavors of smoke and a hint of meat.

We made a pilgrimage in that bottle and found the light. It might have been a brilliant ruby light, but we found it.

Chateau Kalpak 2011 Bordeaux Blend

The Chateau Kalpak 2011 is a classic Bordeaux blend made by one of Turkey’s premiere winemakers; Chateau Kalpak. Made in a chateau-style this 2011 blend took a well-deserved gold medal at the 2014 Austrian Wine Challenge.

What is a “chateau-style” wine? The word came into use originally to describe wine in France where winemakers used grapes all grown on one “terroir” (a specific patch of land) to achieve a house-style wine with a consistent character across vintages.

Chateau Kalpak wines are made in this style. The Chateau Kalpak 2011 is a classic Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. All the grapes are grown in one vineyard in Gellibolu. After fermentation and blending they are barrel aged for an impressive 32 months in Hungarian oak barrels.

These wines won’t set you back the same amount as France’s Chateau Margaux.  Rather they are reasonably priced and in fact are not even the most expensive Turkish wines on the market at roughly 115TL. They are however among the most special wines available in Turkey.

Chateau Kalpak 2011

Chateau Kalpak 2011 Tasting Notes:

In the glass the Chateau Kalpak 2011 is a brilliant ruby and the nose is redolent with sour cherry, bright red fruits, eucalyptus, and mint. The palate is balanced and round with medium, smooth tannins and a long finish. While reflective of the nose, the flavors on the palate expand to include baking spices and an even deeper expression of the red fruits.

A Visit to Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

A couple weeks ago I drank two of Chateau Kalpak wines with some friends and it turns out that my friend AJ knows the owner of the vineyard! Immediately Operation Wine began and we coordinated our schedules to find a weekend we might all be available to go visit Chateau Kalpak.

Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

The drive to the chateau

Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

Chateau Kalpak

Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

Unfortunately, no one told Bulent Bey, the owner, our plans! When AJ contacted him and we discovered that he would not in fact be at the chateau during our planned visit we had half a day of scrambling and constant back and forth WhatsApp messaging while we figured out if we were all available to make the several hour drive to Şarköy the very next day.

Sadly not all of us were free so it was a smaller group to pile into AJ’s car on a bright and perfect autum Sunday; namely just me, AJ, and my friend Em from Istanbites.

Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

In the foreground are the Chateau Kalpak vineyards; in the background is the Marmara Sea

Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

Conical tanks allow the must cap to break up when punched down manually rather than staying solid and moving up & down like a piston, agitating the wine.

Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

Much of Chateau Kalpak wine is made from free run juice; what is pressed is done slowly with a basket press.

Bulent Bey is not only one of the most perfectionist personalities I’ve ever met; he’s also probably the most patient. He started Chateau Kalpak 25 years ago; but his first vintage was not released until 2010. He’s not been idle during those years. In addition to cultivating his vines for years before pressing the 2010 harvest, he has been creating the best environment for his wines to develop.

Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

These bad boys are so expensive & easily destroyed that most vintners eschew their use

Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

Bulent Bey selecting grapes seeds from the must for us to sample. They impart toasted nut flavors to the wine.

Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

We had the privilege of having Bulent Bey himself lead out tasting.

All the oak used at Chateau Kalpak is Hungarian. It comes from two different forests which he has visited so he can find the perfect match for his grapes. Once felled and planed, the oak boards he chooses have the smallest grain and are left to age, not for 24 months which is the standard, but for 48 months before the cooper shapes them into barrels. Even the cooperage has its own special feature-it is more normal than not to bend the wood by burning oak chips under it, charring the wood and adding those toasty flavors to wines. Bulten Bey’s barrels are bent with steam.

While it may seem eccentric at first all of this has a purpose: it neutralizes the oak thereby allowing the wine the benefit of oak aging but keeping the qualities of the fruit in the forefront.

Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

The wine spends a whopping 32 to 36 months in these barrels. It is tested every month and every six months, each and every one of the barrels are emptied, thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, and refilled. These barrels are used for only one vintage before begin retired.

Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

Chateau Kalpak produces only red wines; all Bordeaux blends so the vineyards are full of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. In order to get the most out of the soil, the grape varieties are not planted all in one place (i.e. not all Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are planted together). Rather they are broken up among different plots. Each section of grapes is kept separate during harvest and then separately fermented, macerated, aged, and considered when blending the wine three years later. It’s no small wonder it takes them eight months to complete the blending process!

Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

Chateau Kalpak Vineyard

This is a major commitment they’ve undertaken at Chateau Kalpak: special order barrels, using mostly free run juice with a smaller amount of basket pressed, blending for eight months, ageing for 36 months…all to make only two wines each vintage?! That’s crazy, right? Crazy like a fox is what it is.

While I have posted only the review of the Chateau Kalpak Twin (spoiler: it’s my favorite!) I have had the pleasure of drinking several different vintages of all three Chateau Kalpak wines. They are all, without question, stunning. And I don’t just mean stunning “for a Turkish wine”, I mean stunning. My personal opinion-this is one of the best, if not full out the best, wineries in Turkey.

Bravo, Chateau Kalpak, bravo.

The Chateau Kalpak Twin

I have two favorite Turkish wines-and one is the 2011 Chateau Kalpak Twin.

Chateau Kalpak is a semi newish winery, located in Şarköy on the Marmara Sea. I say semi newish in that I’ve only noticed the wines here in Istanbul for about the last 18 months or so but I believe their vines have been cultivated since the early 2000’s.

Getting a bottle of Chateau Kalpak Twin is not for the faint of heart though. Suvla has the best price at 100 TL, Savoy Tobacco and La Cave are both around 115 TL, and at Solera it will set you back 140 TL (-25% if you buy it to go). Is it worth the price tag? Absolutely yes.

Chateau Kalpak Twin

A lot of love has gone into making the Chateau Kalpak Twin. Proven if nothing else by the silver medal it won at the AWC in Vienna in 2015 and the gold it took in 2016. This careful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot has spent a whopping 32 months in oak with minimal filtration. It’s a big wine 14.8% alcohol and it really needs to breathe or be run through an aerator; maybe twice. Your patience will be well rewarded though.

I love the story of the Chateau Kalpak Twin. After blending their 2011 Chateau Kalpak and sending it off to VIenna for competition they kept blending the wine because they weren’t happy with it. In the end, the blend they’d sent in won the gold but now they had another blend they liked better; and that’s what became the Chateau Kalpak Twin. While this is a pretty special story it’s also a sad story because it means that the Twin is only available in the 2011 vintage; in limited quantities.

Chateau Kalpak Twin

Chateau Kalpak Twin Tasting Notes:

The Chateau Kalpak Twin is a super complex wine. At first in the nose I got red fruits, spices, oak; but the more I let myself dive into to the aromas the more layers I found: green peppercorn, green bell pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, possibly some ginger, and forest aromas.

On the palate the delights of the wine continued with smooth, round, silky tannins and a long finish; a really long finish. The mouthwatering acid was accompanied by bursts of red berry fruit flavors to complete the picture.

Yes, the Chateau Kalpak Twin is a little expensive but it’s not nearly the most expensive wine I’ve had here in Turkey-and it is so very much worth the investment.