Tag Archives: Mediterranean

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.

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.