Tag Archives: Kayra

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!!

The 2012 Kayra Vintage Zinfandel

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

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 Buzbağ Reserve Öküzgözü Boğazkere

Kayra Buzbağ Reserve Öküzgözü Boğazkere

Now that my neighbor has turned me on to wines made in Elazığ I’m more and more on the look out for them. Kayra, as mentioned previously, is one of the largest makers in that region and M, who really just likes to say “Öküzgözü” picked up this bottle of the 2012 Kayra Buzbağ Reserve Öküzgözü Boğazkere not too long ago.

This dark, plummy red colored wine has definitely benefited from the 24 months it spent in French oak which is obvious in the clove, cardamom, and leather scents that I got from the nose. Combined with the plum, black mulberry, and dried fruit aromas the Kayra Buzbağ Reserve Öküzgözü Boğazkere had a very promising start.

The Kayra Buzbağ Reserve Öküzgözü Boğazkere has some nice tannins in the mouth from the Boğazkere grapes were well-matched with a medium acid, however there was only a very slight finish. However slight, the finish had a flavor profile all of its own with hints of toast, toffee, and maybe walnuts? More legacies of its oaking.

As I’m describing it I feel a little romantic and thinking, “Wow! This was amazing! Toast! Toffee! Cardamom!” The reality was less enticing. It was nice, I’m not hating on this one, but it wasn’t as fabulous as I make it sound. A solid food wine it compliments meat and grilled food well but is not something I would choose for just drinking. So far my experience with Kayra’s wines has me preferring the Vintage and Versus labels.

Kayra Vintage Shiraz

2012 Kayra Vintage Shiraz

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.

Buzbağ Bölge Serisi Diyarbakır Boğazkere

This week’s wine has a madly long name. I’m not entirely sure it quite lives up to its name though. The Terra remains my favorite Boğazkere still but I feel there’s room in my heart for the  Buzbağ Bölge Serisi Diyarbakır Boğazkere.

I feel like I’m predisposed to like a wine that has a beautiful color; and this seemed to be pretty on target. I really don’t understand why people use colored wine glasses. Sure they’re pretty; but many wines, red and white, are lovely in and of themselves. So it is with the Buzbağ Diyarbakır Boğazkere; it had a beautiful, deep, ruby red color that glowed but lost no depth in light.

On the nose the Diyarbakır Boğazkere was fruity with red fruits and berries and a hint of pepper. I live for tannins which is why I like the Terra Boğazkere so much. If you are not quite as obsessed with tannins as I though then you might like the Diyarbakır Boğazkere better. It was very smooth, velvety, slightly chewy, with a medium finish.

In the palate this Boğazkere, for me at any rate, had some very clear flavors. Up front with the velvety texture were black mulberry and black cherry which slid into licorice and tobacco, then finished with a hint of pepper. It was pretty decent.

If the way it went with my kiymali kasarli pide is any indication; it does well with meat. And cheese. Ad yummy meat and cheese on bread. On the other hand, what doesn’t go well with meat, melty cheese, and bread? Nothing I ever want to encounter.

Leona Bloom-The Best Misket

The Leona Bloom is yet another winner in the Misket family! I’ve only tried one wine from Leona in the past, a Kalecik Karasi/Merlot blend I didn’t much care for; however the Leona Bloom was quite lovely. Just sweet enough to not be dry, quite easy to drink and very aromatic with beautifully pronounced florals.

As with the previous Miskets, the Leona Bloom had a lovely pale, clear yellow color and floral nose but what made it stand out from the previous Misket wines I’ve tried was how strong the orange blossom aromas were. Since the orange blossom aspect of the Misket is my favorite part of the wine I certainly enjoyed that extra little kick! The flavor profile was also very much what I expected from a Misket (honeysuckle, orange blossom, a little citrus, and tropical) but again the stand out was the orange blossom and here also the honeysuckle. I do believe this is my favorite.

At about 32TL a bottle the Leona Bloom is a great deal. I think even people who aren’t such a fan of sweet wines might like this one. The palate is not cloyingly sweet-this is not a dessert wine. On a hot summer day this is quite refreshing. As with many sweeter wines this also paired well with spicy foods and would be able to stand up to not only Turkish-level spice but also the more exotic peppers and spices found in Thai and Indian cuisine.

The 2011 Terra Boğazkere

It seems the one consistent thing about my wine drinking is that I drink far more red than I do white. In college I’d have told you that I was a white wine drinker but the more I explored wines and learned about grape profiles the more I realized I preferred reds. Which also means that I now gravitate towards them more often simply because I know more about them and feel more confident choosing a red wine. I really must start picking up more whites and rectify this. Before we get there though…lets discuss the Terra Boğazkere.

I’ve already reviewed an Öküzgözü and the Öküzgözü-Boğazkere blend but this is the first straight up Boğazkere. I really liked the blend and the Öküzgözü on its own not so much. The Boğazkere on its own-total winner.

The Terra Boğazkere had a nice plummy purple color. A Boğazkere grape’s flavor profile is pretty complex: black cherry, raspberry, black raspberry, black mulberry, pepper, clove, tobacco, eucalyptus, leather (!), pine, dark chocolate, and liquorice. I’m not nearly good enough to pick out those flavors individually but did get a lot of red fruits and the tobacco in both the nose and flavor. My favorite part about the wine though? The feel of it in my mouth. There are a lot of people who don’t like tannins in their wine but I am not one of them. If you’re like me, you’ll love the tannins in this Terra Boğazkere.

Even after breathing and having been opened for some time the tannins stayed very strong. The Terra Boğazkere was a good wine for me as I find that I drink rather too quickly sometimes but I so enjoyed the feel of the Boğazkere that I held each sip on my tongue and rolled it around a bit thus drawing out the flavor and experience. It was like being able to both taste and feel grape skins in my mouth.

So far I’m having pretty good luck with both the Terra and Pamukkale wines and this is no exception – the Terra Boğazkere is a winner and I will most definitely be buying this again. Which I suppose doesn’t help my resolution to drink more white wines…

The 2012 Terra Kalecik Karası

I have found it!! I have found my hands down favorite vintner for Kalecik Karası. This is the second winner from Terra, the first being the Narince I reviewed some weeks ago. I’m not entirely surprised how good this was though. While price is not always a sign of quality, as anyone who has ever bought wine at Trader Joe’s knows, it’s not not a factor. The Terra Kalecik Karası is a little bit on the “pricier” side running about 35TL ($17-ish) a bottle. It’s worth it.

I’ve been fooled by a nice nose before so the overwhelming (in a good way) berry/cherry that I was smelling in the Terra Kalecik Karası made me both very hopeful and yet cautious at the same time. Happily this time I was not disappointed. The flavor was similarly in a good way overwhelming in its berriness; most notably raspberry.

In addition to the pleasing berryness, the Terra Kalecik Karası was very smooth and needed little to no airing. Kalecik Karası wines are usually on the softer, medium bodied side and go well with tomato-based dishes. This one paired very well the Turkish mezzes I had: haydari, dolma, and sasksuma.

I also was indulging in some içki köfte. The flavor of the köfte was actually a little too strong for the Terra but I bring up these particular köfte because if you can, you need to get your hands on some.

İçki köfte are ground (likely) beef mixed with the Lord only knows what spices and walnuts. They’re then breaded and likes fried? They’re fabulous cold, heavenly baked, and may the good Lord bless the folks at Carrefour Turkey and their catering section for always having them around. They’re not cheap in store or restaurant, but totally worth it.