Tag Archives: Eastern Anatolia

Kayra Cameo Sparkling Wine

Turkish sparkling wine is fairly new to the market. While previously there may have been one or two, it feels like the industry exploded with them over this spring and summer. Now you can find sparkling wine offered by a variety of producers including Vinkara, Pamukkale, Suvla, Kayra, and others.

Previously I posted about Leona Bubble, one of the two sparkling wines made by Kayra. The Kayra Cameo is a blend of the same grapes but is a higher-end version of the Bubble.

Cameo

The winery’s name is taken from the Turkish word “kayra” which means benevolence, grace, and kindness. A family endeavor, Kayra has two main bases in Turkey, one in Elazığ and one in Şarköy. The Elazığ winery in Eastern Anatolia was established in 1942, and the Şarköy winery in Thrace was established in 1996. With assistance from lead winemaker Daniel O’Donnell, Kayra produces an impressive 10 labels each with its own unique characteristics.

Leona Bubble

Part of the Kayra series, the Cameo is a well produced sparkling wine made in the tank, or charmat method. Unlike the traditional method (think Champagne), whereby wine goes through a second fermentation in the bottle to create bubbles; in the tank method the second fermentation happens in a large pressurized tank. The sparkling wine is then bottled and sealed.

I’ve had the pleasure of drinking Kayra’s Cameo several times now. In fact it formed the basis of a yacht-board wine tasting I hosted this summer! It doesn’t get much better than drinking sparkling wine while on a private Bosphorus cruise!

Cameo

Kayra Cameo Tasting Notes:

Like many sparkling wines, the Cameo is a non vintage-meaning it is a blend of wines harvested in different years. The blend includes Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Misket. Between the lovely flavor and the relatively low alcohol (11.5% abv) this is definitely a wine that is dangerously delicious!

The Cameo has a lovely aromatic nose filled with delicate fruits and cream. White peach, citrus (grapefruit particularly), and pineapple all vied for attention. Bubbles are fine and tight giving the wine a nice, frothy mouthfeel. It almost feels like the flavors of peach, lemon pith, blood orange, and grapefruit burst out of the bubbles as they dissipate on the tongue.

So far my favorite Turkish sparkling wine is the Cameo! While it seems that sparkling wine is often reserved for a special occasion at an average price of 99 TL the Cameo won’t break the bank if your special occasion is as simple as opening a good bottle of wine!

Kayra Leona Bubble

For years I avoided most sparkling wines. I found that almost all of them made me ill; instant migraine. Maybe I’m just getting more drinking practice now because that hasn’t happened in a while; freeing me to explore Turkish sparkling wines like the Leona Bubble.

Kayra, one of Turkey’s largest and most prestigious wine companies, produces two sparkling wines: Cameo and under its Leona label, Bubble. Both are relatively inexpensive although the Cameo (review soon!) is definitely the higher quality of the two.

Leona Bubble

There are six different ways to make sparkling wine: traditional method (Méthode Champenoise, méthode traditionnelle), tank method (or charmat), transfer, ancestral, and continuous (the Russian method) methods, and simply adding carbon dioxide. Wine Folly has a great article detailing each method; but briefly:

Traditional: In 2015 UNESCO awarded the traditional method, used largely to make Champagne, with heritage status. In this most celebrated, and expensive method, the base still wine is made as any other wine would be made then bottled. Then in tirage, the winemaker then adds yeast and sugar to the bottled wine to start the second fermentation and wines are bottled (and topped with crown caps). The second fermentation happens in the bottle. The CO2 gas created by the fermentation process has nowhere to go so it turns into liquid and dissolves back into the wine creating the bubbles. The wine is then aged, riddled, disgorged, a dosage is added (or not depending on the desired style), and finally corked.

Tank: This method, closely associated with Prosecco, starts out similarly to the Traditional method. However the second fermentation happens in a large tank. After the second fermentation ends, the sparkling wine is bottled without additional ageing.

Transfer: This method is nearly identical to the Traditional method until the riddling and disgorging. The bottles are emptied into a pressurized tank and sent through pressurized filters to remove the dead yeast bits (lees). Then, the wines are bottled using pressurized fillers.

Ancestral: This method of sparkling wine production uses icy temperatures (and filteration) to pause the fermentation mid-way for a period of months and then wines are bottled and the fermentation finishes, trapping the CO2 in the bottle. When the desired level of CO2 is reached, wines are chilled again, riddled and disgorged.

Continuous: In this method, used by Russian sparkling wine makers, wine is moved from tank to tank each with a different purpose. After the base wine is blended, the winemaker continually adds yeast into pressurized tanks. Wines are then moved into another tank with yeast enrichments. Finally, the wines move into the last set of pressurized tanks where the yeasts and enrichments are settled out, leaving the wine relatively clear.

Carbonation: In this cheapest method, CO2 is added to the base wine in a pressurized tanks.

Leona Bubble

Kayra Leona Bloom Tasting Notes:

The Leona Bloom was made in the cheapest sparkling wine method of simply adding CO2 to still wine. However it is still a pretty decent bottle of fizz. A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Misket; it’s fresh, light, and utterly quaffable.

The nose displays a balance of aromas from the three grapes. A slightly musty aroma underlines peaches, white flowers, and grass resulting in a bouquet that is both fresh and deep. Tight bubbles burst with the ripeness of summer peaches and florals for a warm, albeit brief, finish.

A non vintage blend, like the majority of sparkling wine, this particular one was bottled in 2013. With only 11.5% abv the Leona Bloom is an easy and enjoyable drink.

Kayra Vintage Zinfandel 2012

I was so excited when I found this Kayra Vintage Zinfandel at La Cave (66 TL)! It’s been ages since I’ve had a Zinfandel-not only my favorite American wine but the only reason I think the California wine industry should exist. I was really looking forward to seeing what Turkey could do with a Zinfandel.

And then I had and my hopes were dashed. I haven’t had a Zinfandel since moving here. Not because they aren’t available. In fact one of my favorite California Zinfandels is available right at La Cave. I just cannot stomach paying a 300% mark up for a wine I know shouldn’t cost more than $12. I’ve had really good luck with Kayra though and had hoped that the Kayra Vintage Zinfandel would come through for me.

The Kayra Vintage Zinfandel was a lovely bright, clear ruby red in the glass. In the nose it was a little plummy with jammy and raisin fruit scents along with some nutmeg. The palate felt, to me, really thin for a Zinfandel though-more of a light-bodied than a medium-bodied wine and there was no finish to speak of. There were none of the big fruit, tobacco, or leather flavors that I love in a California Zinfandel. What the Kayra Vintage Zinfandel had was more of a cherry juice box flavor.

I don’t mean to say that this is a bad wine; but it was a bad Zinfandel. It was an easy drinking, approachable, totally uninteresting wine for anyone who doesn’t want their palate challenged.

Kayra 2013 Versus Syrah Viognier

I have only recently started exploring Kayra wines so they’re not wines that jump out at me when I’m shopping but when I saw this Kayra Versus Syrah Viognier blend I had to have it. A red-white grape blend? What?!

I did some Googling and discovered that this particular blend is not all that unusual. It’s not all that usual either so I suppose it’s more accurate to say that this blend is not unheard of. The tradition of blending Viognier into Syrah has its roots (haha, see what I did there?) in France where the grapes are grown side-by-side in the  Côte-Rôtie region of the Northern Rhône Valley. French law allows winemakers to blend up to 20% of Viognier into their Syrahs and still label it as Syrah. The same holds true for Australian Shiraz (although I believe they’re capped at 15%).

So that gives us the history lesson but doesn’t answer the why. Short answer is that Viognier is awesome. The longer answer is that these two grapes are not just grown side-by-side, they’re fermented together. This process will then (theoretically) imbue the Syrah with some of the Viognier’s characteristic aromatic, perfumey nature while also, oddly enough, giving the Syrah a deeper color.

Whatever the reasoning I am entirely behind the theory. I don’t usually care for Syrah but this Versus Syrah Viognier by Kayra blew me away and I’m now on a mission to find and try all available vintages. It will set you back roughly 80 TL a bottle but the Kayra Versus line is quality wine and I don’t think you’ll be sorry.

Kayra Syrah Viognier 2013 Tasting Notes:

To me this was a fascinating wine. In the glass it was a dark, inky purple. The most prominent aromas in the nose were red fruits, leather, and tobacco backed by green peppercorn and maybe some camphor.

I really liked the mouth feel of the Versus Syrah Viognier. It ticked all my tannin boxes with nice round, velvety tannins and a fair amount of acid behind them. On the palate of the Versus Syrah Viognier I got a little more black fruits than I did in the nose, specifically blackberries and while the tobacco was still there, like a cigar box actually, the leather was more prominent.

I’ve had this one twice now and have enjoyed it both times. I’m still a little stunned by the red-white wine mix but if this wine is an example of what that kind of blending produces I am on board!

Kayra Versus Viognier

Kayra Versus Viognier 2012

I found the Kayra Versus Viognier, a real gem, originally at Eleos on Istiklal. Aside from a truly respectable wine list, Eleos is worth a visit if you’re a fan of fish, awesome views, and ridiculous amounts of free mezzes and desserts. Not paying for those leaves you free to pay the rather high ticket price of the Kayra Versus Viognier. Luckily if you buy it in a shop it’s significantly less expensive (76 at Macro Center and 67 at La Cave-seriously). Regardless of what you pay though this wine is totally worth it, it’s one of the most gorgeous wines I’ve had in a while.

In the glass the 2012 Kayra Versus Viognier is a pale, clear yellow with no hints of green. The nose is white pepper, honeysuckle, orange flower, and vanilla bean. The latter two aromas I didn’t pick up right away, I found them to be more subtle than the pepper and honeysuckle, but they are there and they are delightful.

In the mouth there’s a nice amount of acidity balancing the flavors and a long finish of honeysuckle and vanilla. I think I may have also detected some melon and/or tropical notes and some citrus in the flavor.

It’s lighter than Chamlija’s Viognier which has more oak characteristics and while they’re both gorgeous in their own ways, the Kayra Versus Viognier is the far more easily drinkable. In fact it’s dangerously drinkable as I proved by killing the bottle in one sitting. Go buy this. Like, right now.

Kayra Vintage Shiraz

Kayra Vintage Shiraz 2012

I’ve had this bottle of 2012 Kayra Vintage Shiraz sitting on my wine rack for so long that I had to wipe off about an inch of dust when I pulled it out not too long ago to celebrate the brief return my awesome Australian neighbor. Shiraz/Syrah is not often a wine I choose. I find that it is often lighter and more cherry driven than I generally prefer wines to be but I do from time to time enjoy a jammy wine and Shiraz usually ticks that box.

Kayra, based out of Elazığ, Anatolia is not a winery I talk about a lot even though I have featured more than a few of their wines. Part of that is because they produce under quite a few labels including Kayra Imperial, Kayra Vintage, Kayra Versus, Buzbağ Reserve, Terra, Allure, Leona, and Buzbağ. Terra I generally like a great and the Leona Muscat is still one of my favorite Turkish Muscats. As I have had so many good experiences with Kayra wines, including this Shiraz we’re going to talk about, I really need to make more of a point to actively look for more wines under these various labels. For the time being though let’s talk about this Kayra Vintage Shiraz.

Ruby red and clear to the rim in the glass the nose is full of cherry, berry, dried fruits, tobacco, and dried herbs. On the palate medium tannins and medium acid produced a smooth, well-integrated drinking experience with initial flavors of cherry, berry, and tobacco. As the Shiraz opened the tannins smoothed out and flavors of fruitcake, blackberry, currant, and dried herbs became more pronounced.

I made a truffled porcini mushroom risotto the evening we had this wine and they went very nicely together so I suspect that the Kayra Vintage Shiraz would also hold up well against red meats. I did enjoy this one, rather more than I thought I would at the off, but I think I would put this in the list of food wines. On its own I do not believe I would like it quite so much.

Yenidoğuş Karaoğlan Rezerv

Despite living in Istanbul for two years; one of them right next to the famous French Street which high volume live music keeps me awake many nights until 2-3 AM; I had never actually gone to the street until a few weeks ago. Restaurant selection is very much like that in Sultanahmet; you walk through, brushing off touts until you’re ready to give in and sit somewhere. We ended up in a pretty decent place with a pretty excellent (if over priced) wine from the Shiluh winery in Mardin.

Sadly on looking for Shiluh wines at Cihangir’s Le Cave I was told they neither have any nor expect to get more. Sad.  They recommended instead a wine by Yenidoğuş that was supposed to be similar so, after my long lead-in, that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

Especially bad pic this week but you get the idea

The Yenidoğuş 2008 Karaoğlan Rezerv (I think 40TL) began auspiciously with a lovely ruby red color and a nose full of red fruits and spice.

On the palate it was meh with nether the tannins nor the finish being memorable. In fact it felt very thin and watery in the mouth. I did like the intense tobacco and cherry flavors but that was about all I liked about the Yenidoğuş.

The Yenidoğuş wasn’t bad by any means, but it wasn’t as good as the Shiluh I’d had the night before nor as good as several other wines I’ve had here. I would drink it again but not buy it again is where I come down on this one.