Tag Archives: Likya

Likya Malbec 2015

I feel like I say a lot that such-and-such winery is one of my favorite wineries in Turkey. Does the expression lose gravitas for saying it so often? Or is it a reflection on how good Turkish wine really is? Whatever the answer; I’m going to say it again. Likya is one of my favorite wineries in Turkey.

One of the things I like so much about Likya is that they put equal effort into both domestic and international varietals. For example, Likya resurrected a nearly distinct Turkish grape varietal and is now making complex and interesting wines from the Acıkara grape. The list of international varieties they tackle is varied and interesting. Beyond the typical Chardonay and Pinot Noir they also make a varietal Pinot Meunier and several Malbec options.

The first Likya Malbec I tried was the Kadyanda Malbec and I was blown away. Less expensive than the wine we’re discussing here, the Kadyanda was fully expressive of the varietal. Given my enthusiastic response to that wine I was eager to try the eponymous Likya Malbec.

Likya Malbec

Likya Malbec 2015 Tasting Notes:

The drama of this wine is apparent as soon as you pour it and see the deep, opaque purple red color reminiscent of black mulberries. The nose here is everything. It displays aromas of black fruits (black raspberry, plum), coffee, vanilla, bay leaf, chocolate, and baking spices.

Medium-bodied with round, succulent tannins, the fruit on the palate is rich. It was far more fruit-forward than I expected after the dynamic aromas in the nose.

By no means a mundane wine; but I think a little longer in the bottle would be beneficial. However if you want to drink it now you won’t be disappointed. Just make sure to decant or otherwise aerate this one well first to let the flavors settle properly.

The 2014 Likya Acıkara

A few months ago I went to a wine tasting lead by Murat Mumcuoğlu of Şarap Atölyesi. I was excited before the tasting because I’d been following Murat on Twitter and Instagram for a wile and was excited to meet him. After the tasting I was excited because, thanks to him, I discovered Likya’s Acıkara.

Never heard of Acıkara? Neither had I; for good reason. Until just a few short years ago it was a mostly forgotten, nearly extinct Turkish grape. The folks at Likya found some vines in the wild (I believe) and thinking they were one thing, transplanted them to their vineyards. However when harvest time came around they realized that these weren’t what they thought and DNA testing revealed that they were actually Acıkara grapes. Likya is now the only producer in Turkey cultivating (small batches) of it.

At the time of the tasting I had never heard of nor seen this wine before. Then I discovered two bottles at the Savoy Tobacco shop (75TL) and snapped them up. Then two weeks later I walked into La Cave and there was a wall of both the 2014 and 2015 vintages. So Acıkara is here to stay!


Other than its relative rarity, what’s so great about it? A lot actually. The 2014 Acıkara is a big red wine with every bit of the 15% abv Turkish wine is allowed to have. In the glass it’s a dark, inky red-purple color. The nose is deep: jammy plums, pepper, baking spices, cocoa, smoke, leather, and cigar box. It’s like following Alice down the rabbit hole…it just keeps going and getting weirder and more interesting the farther you go.

On the palate there are velvety tannins with a balanced acid and a medium finish. It’s very fruit forward but still with a lot of the nose, particularly the cocoa, leather, and tobacco.


I lead an all-Likya wine tasting for a group this fall. About half the attendees favored this over the other three wines. No one hated it but everyone was fascinated by it. For me that was a win. One of the reasons I started leading Turkish wine tastings was to introduce people to local wine that was not only good but interesting. The Likya Acıkara absolutely ticked both those boxes!

And if you don’t believe me, check out Exotic Wine Travel’s video tasting notes about this wine!

Likya 2015 Merzifon Karası

Likya has a huge range of wines, including several varietals of native Turkish grapes that are really rare; including the Merzifon Karası. I put together an all Likya tasting in the fall for a group and wanted to include several of Likya’s more unusual varietals. In addition to a Chardonnay and a Malbec we tasted an Acikara and this 2015 Merzifon Karası.


Going with the Merzifon Karası for this tasting made me a little nervous. For one thing, it wasn’t a small investment. A bottle of this from La Cave will set you back 110TL. Additionally, no amount of Googling netted me any information about this grape. I still know nothing about the grape; although after having the wine I think it share some similar attributes with the more ubiquitous Kalecik Karası.

The Likya Merzifon Karası was far more of an approachable wine that I originally thought it might be and indeed went over well with my tasting group.

Merzifon Karası

In the glass this 14% APV wine is a very pale red, almost a brilliant fuchsia. The nose is lots of bred berries, raspberries, and pomegranate with light baking spices, vanilla, and cream. The latter was really interesting for me. Certainly I’ve both tasted and felt cream in a wine before but never have I smelled it.

On the palate there was little in the way tannin but lots of acid and a short finish. It was very juicy and just a little woody. It really mostly tasted like a raspberry-pomegranate juice box.

Not my personal favorite and I wouldn’t like to pay anything near 100TL for it again but I’m glad for the experience! Whether I like them or not, I’ve yet to have an out and out bad wine from Likya and happily doubt that I ever will.

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!!

Likya 2015 Arykanda Chardonnay

I know-a Chardonnay? What is the world coming to?! I really did have a reason though. I recently lead an all-Likya tasting and wanted at least one white. So when I spotted this unoaked Likya 2015 Arykanda Chardonnay at La Cave (for only 45TL) I thought why not?

Also they only had one bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc.

Arykanda Chardonnay

I was actually fairly intrigued by the Arykanda Chardonnay. I have not hated unoaked Chardonnay wines I’ve had in the past and so thought that this could be interesting. Oddly enough I-loud Chardonnay hater that I am-was one of only THREE people out of 13 at the tasting who liked it! Well-“like” might be a strong word for what I felt. I thought it was drinkable, but two of my guests really did actually like it.

In the glass the Arykanda Chardonnay was a brilliant, pale yellow. On the nose I got an explosion of tropical fruits, yellow apple, citrus blossom, and white peach. Many people at my tasting told me that they smelled bubble gum.

On that palate I personally thought that this was pretty soft for a 13.7% abv wine. Apparently I was the only one to do so however as the vast majority of my guests were completely put off by what they said was bracing acidity.

The question of acidity aside, the palate carried many of the flavors from the nose, particularly the white peach, along with a creamy creme fraiche flavor/feeling.

Final feelings on the Arykanda Chardonnay…I didn’t hate it nearly as much as 85% of my guests but it isn’t something I’m likely to buy again.

Likya Podalia

The 2012 Likya Podalia

The 2012 Likya Podalia has become my go-to bottle when I take people to Dai Pera – which is my go-to restaurant. It’s a nice medium bodied wine that suits just about any palate and isn’t challenging for people who don’t have a lot of wine experience. Likya Podalia is a Kalecik Karası Malbec blend (75TL from La Cave) which has the added benefit of being both exotic for people who don’t know Turkish wines but also comfortingly familiar.

The nose is fascinating…cotton candy and tobacco all swirled together with raspberry undertones. Sounds a little weird but not uncommon for these wines. Kalecik Karası is known for having cotton candy scents in the nose. On the palate the wine is low on tannins but there’s a lively level of acid, and has a nice, medium-length finish that makes my mouth water like I’ve had something savory. It tastes like savory red berries.

Unfortunately the Likya Podalia did not pair well with my chosen foods, it really overpowered my port salut and did not like the tartness of the green apples. Even though it’s a medium bodied wine it’s got some big flavors and needs stronger flavored foods (like the fantastic mezzes at Dai Pera. So pair this with garlic, tomato, spicy peppers and stronger cheeses like Parmesan.

Even Sherlock is getting into the tasting! Although really she probably just wanted the cheese. Dairy products are not safe around her if left unattended. Thankfully she doesn’t demand a share of the wine too!

I am liking Likya more and more with every bottle I have so I think we’re going to be trying a lot more of these in the coming months!

Likya Kadyanda Malbec

The 2014 Likya Kadyanda Malbec

I have been burned by Turkish Malbec’s before so I was a little (i.e. a whole lot) trepidacious when the guys as La Cave recommended the Likya Kadyanda Malbec. Likya produces two Malbecs, a pricey reserve and the reasonably priced 2014. Since it was only going to set me back 45TL I decided to be brave and give it a try.

My first thought when I got a whiff of the nose… “ooooo”.  Even though this isn’t Likya’s reserve Malbec it has a lot of reserve-style scents like black fruits, tobacco, and oak; aromas I would expect more from a reserve-style Malbec.

It was softer on the palate than I expected after the nose and had no discernible tannins but a good amount of acid and a pretty decent finish for a medium-bodied wine. Flavors in the mouth were blueberry, grape jam, and something candy-like. The tobacco was less strong than in the nose while still being an integral part of the flavor, backing up the fruits.

I was so excited by the Likya Kadyanda Malbec that I immediately messaged E, who was stuck on a compound in Kabul, to tell her that I had finally found a really nice domestic Malbec for us. In fact I’m so excited about this wine that I’m ready to pony up the dough for the reserve!

Likya Pinot Meunier

The 2013 Likya Pinot Meunier

A while ago I was at La Cave in Cihangir looking for new wines and picked up this Likya Pinot Meunier. I’ve never heard of Pinot Meunier and decided it was worth the 70 TL investment to find out what it was all about.

Turns out it’s all about Pinot Noir. Pinot Meunier, which is one of the three grapes used to make champagne, lives in the Pinot Noir family from which it is likely a mutation. Lighter in color and higher in acid than a Pinot Noir it does share some similar flavors but has less of the earthiness often found in Pinot Noirs. Thus says Google.

In the glass the deep purple Likya Pinot Meunier was darker than I anticipated after reading the Google search results. The nose was a lovely blend of black fruits, plum, raspberry, pomegranate, clove, and rose.

In the mouth it had more tannin than I expected being from a grape out of the Pinot Noir family. The high acid was really evident though; this one needs some airing.

I had an up and down relationship with this one. Initially it was a little sour, like unripe raspberries and pomegranate. I could taste some dried herbs and tobacco but they were really buried under the tartness. However it really mellowed as it opened, the tannins go away a bit, and the black fruit and tobacco become more prominent.

At 70 TL a bottle I did not like this enough to buy it again but I was glad for the experience. Three stars.