Tag Archives: Pamukkale

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!!

Pamukkale Sole and Diamond

I recently saw an Instagram post from Pamukkale showing several new wines and I had to try them. I’m a bit of a magpie and am attracted to shiny/sparkly objects so the label of the new Pamukkale Sole line attracted me right away. And for 16 TL how can you go wrong?

Pamukkale Sole

Normally Pamukkale is not one of my go-to producers. For one thing they’re responsible for Sava which is one of the cheapest wines available here and gives a bad name to vinegar. However since I can’t afford to spend 90+ TL on every bottle of wine I drink I am always looking for quality inexpensive wines. I don’t promise huge quality here, but the white Pamukkale Sole, which is a dry Sultaniye, was pretty quaffable.

Pamukkale Sole

Brilliant gold in the glass the Pamukkale Sole was very aromatic with a nose of flowers and tropical fruits. It was a little flabby; there was not a lot of acid to balance the flavor which became a problem as the wine warmed up so serve this right out of the refrigerator and you’ll still get the tropical flavors without the lack of acid making things awkward.

If you decide to give the Pamukkale Sole a try make sure you drink it within a few months of purchasing it and you store it out of the light. Clear bottles like this provide no protection for the wine inside opening the wine to major sun damage.

The Diamond is another newish line from Pamukkale and also only 16 TL a bottle (The Cave) it was not a horrible wine. I bought it a bit on impulse but then was reluctant to open it; I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

Pamukkale Diamond

In the glass it was a rather beautiful color: brilliant clear wheat-gold. I’m not sure what the grape in the Diamond is because I am no where near that good yet (possible another Sultaniye-Pamukkale seems to like this grape) but whatever it was has a very fruity nose. There wasn’t a great deal of finish to this but the mouthwatering acid and dry, slightly oaky finish balanced well with the citrus, tropical, apple and floral flavors.

Pamukkale Diamond

Is this even in the top 20 white wines I’ve tried this summer? No. But will you embarrass yourself if you take it to a party? Also no. For 16 TL it’s really perfectly drinkable.

Anfora blush

Anfora 2014 Kalecik Karası Shiraz Blush

While I still approach pink wines warily I am more open to at least trying then than I used to be. That does not mean that I go out of my way to buy them; particularly not the cheaper brands like Anfora.

I have recently started holding Turkish wine tastings; informal parties at my place for my friends where the only rules are that you must bring a wine that is Turkish and is not DLC. If you don’t live here and you don’t know what DLC is count yourself lucky. As one of the goals of the tasting is to try a wide spectrum of Turkish wines at least one pink wine should make the roster.  At the very first tasting I did, the pink wine was Anfora 2014 Kalecik Karası-Shiraz Blush from Pamukkale.

Pale peachy pink in the glass the nose is very fruit forward with a lot of strawberries. On the palate the Anfora blush was off-dry with a subtle acidity and minerality. While I want to be diplomatic and say that while I don’t see this particular blush bringing me any closer to being a fan of pink wines it wasn’t bad…I just can’t say that. I don’t like pink wine-full stop. I have tried and as there are two more bottles in my fridge I will keep trying…but really just avoid this one.

I did not buy this so I cannot confidently say how much it was but my experience with Pamukkale wines said that this Anfora blush was probably around 25TL and widely available at many of Turkey’s grocery stores if you want a bottle of your very own despite my advice that don’t.

Nodus Cabernet Franc Merlot

Nodus Cabernet Franc Merlot 2012

Like the Urla, Nodus was another new discovery at Comedus. I chose this Nodus Cabernet Franc Merlot partially because Nodus was a new producer to me but mostly because I continue to search for a respectable Turkish Cabernet Franc. That this was a Cab Franc-Merlot blend didn’t thrill me a whole lot but I take what I can get.

A very pretty garnet in the glass, I was getting a lot of green pepper in the nose which surprised me. I don’t usually look for either of these varietals to be bell peppery.

Soft with low tannins and low acid, the mouth of the Nodus Cabernet Franc Merlot was full of lovely black mulberries and cherries. If I recall correctly, this was the night I heard the whole story of how M and E met as he and I got a little tipsy on a couple bottles. I believe the first bottle was the Turasan Syrah from a previous post followed by this one.

Lesson learned: drink the more expensive wine first. If you’re paying 75TL for a bottle of wine you’re going to want to be able to really savor that bad boy…not only half pay attention to it because you’ve already got half a bottle of 38TL wine in you.

For all of that…meh. It was fine. It wasn’t objectionable…but for price not really worth a second visit. So while I started this post excited to try the Nodus Cabernet Franc Merlot, I finished it fairly sure that I wouldn’t be trying more wines by Nodus anytime soon.

Senfoni Sultaniye Sweet

Pamukkale Senfoni Sultaniye Sweet 2013

I have now had and written about the Pamukkale Senfoni Sek and Domi Sek. I’ve always quite liked the domi sek but I never tried the full-on Senfoni Sultaniye sweet. Until now.

Sweet wines pair beautifully with spicy food which is one of the reasons I find myself eating a lot of çiğ köfte; they go well with the oh-so quaffable Miskets I like to drink in the summer. Assuming that a sweet Sultaniye grape would pair just as nicely I decided to try the Senfoni Sultaniye Sweet when I made blacked salmon a few weeks ago. It was a good choice.

The color of pale hay with green lights, this wine was as pretty as it was quaffable. The nose, full of florals, mango, and pineapple was a promise to be fulfilled by the taste. The tropical fruits and flowers lent themselves to a an easy to drink, not overly sweet wine that was smooth and refreshing on the tongue.

Why don’t I drink this more? I should, especially at 25TL a bottle it, and Pamukkale’s other Senfonis, are a steal. Now that spring has really and finally arrived in Istanbul I will be drinking more white wines. Although considering the backlog of posts I have about red ones one would never know that I’m trying to switch to white now!

Oh sweet white wines, I love you.

Anfora Cabernet Franc

2012 Pamukkale Anfora Cabernet Franc

I feel like I don’t often see a Cabernet Franc here so when I found an Anfora Cabernet Franc (new from Anfora) at Le Cave I grabbed it. Especially since the nice guy who helps me choose wine there pointed out that it was far more “ekonomik” at 28TL than the 140TL bottle I was also buying.

In the glass, the deep ruby color gave way to an intriguing nose of (sour) cherry and smoke. I almost thought I was going to once more start waxing poetic; but no. It was a good wine, and at 28TL something I might buy again, but not good enough for the poetic Muses to whisper in my ear.

Redolent (which is my new favorite word) of tobacco and sour cherries, the Anfora Cabernet Franc was pretty decent. Light tannins and a long finish complete the experience. This would go well, I think, with grilled meat, strong cheese, and anything that has had the benefit of truffle oil/salt.

My friends, E&M, are all about using Vivino which, if I had a phone with a camera let alone one that supported apps, I might be as well. However I find rating wine here difficult. For one thing, it’s been so long since I’ve had even a semi decent European wine that I forget how the mediocre Turkish wines stack up against them. But if I were rating this against only other Turkish wines; I’d say it’s about a 3. Nothing to knock your socks off but but it won’t give you a hangover after one glass either.

On another note, I am very happy that I have a backlog of reviews to post as I recently lost another “I can drink this entire bottle of red wine in one sitting and not get a hangover” bet with myself. Unlike the last time I lost this bet, this one was a hard lose so I’m off the sauce as it were for a little while.

Sava Premium

Sava Premium Kalecik Karasi, Shiraz, Merlot

Two of my best friends have just moved to Istanbul and I haven’t had time to take them through the do’s and don’ts of Turkish wine yet; so I wasn’t really shocked when I turned up for dinner and found them with a bottle of Sava Premium. “Premium”. Snort. I love them but they are very much ‘wine tastes like wine’ people; at least they sprang for the premium. I’m always game to try a new wine though so here we go.

Perhaps I was predisposed to give it bad notes but for me the Sava Premium was awful right from the start with a vinegary nose; or maybe that was the banana? I cannot say I’ve ever encountered a wine with self-proclaimed aromas of banana.

In the end it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d thought it would be; although that’s not to say that it was good. Despite some sharpness to the flavor, the flavor of cherries and light tannins made it fairly palatable. Especially when paired with the vegetable, walnut, haloumi, and bulgar stuffed eggplants we had for dinner.

What shocked me was the cork-while it’s not marked on the bottle as far as I could see, it seems that Sava, that most reviled of Turkish wines, is produced by my favorite cheap Turkish winery-Pamukkale. Did not see that one coming.

By the time dinner was over and I had drunk two modest glasses; I thought I may have too harshly judged all things Sava. However the next morning I saw the light. Or rather hid from it as the case were. Two glasses of the Sava Premium was all I had and I woke up with as vicious a red wine hang over as I’ve ever had. Well no, that’s a bit of hyperbole, I’ve had worse. But it was a whole lot worse than the one I got from drinking an entire bottle of Suvla in one sitting.

Unfortunately price point really does matter when it comes to Turkish wine. You’re far better off splurging a little than saving money and regretting it the next morning.

Sava Çalkarası Merlot

It’s December and yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent which means that it’s officially time to start playing Christmas movies and music and, more importantly, start drinking Gluehwein! Which for me means that it no longer matters that Turkish wine generally isn’t good.

Also luckily, good wine is neither needed nor recommended for Gluehwein so for the first time I bought a bottle of the cheapest wine (10 TL / 5 USD) on offer here: Sava; specifically the Sava Çalkarası Merlot. And while I meant it from the beginning for Gluehwein I thought I’d make a proper tasting of it before adding tons of sugar.

Everything has at least one good point, right? So that’s where we’ll begin. The 2013 Sava Çalkarası Merlot was a really pretty color-a jewel garnet red that glowed a bit when held up to the light. Glowed in a good way; not a possibly toxic way. The nose was actually fairly decent as well; full of red fruits and spice.

Then I tasted it and that’s when its true nature kicked in. Lots of acidity hit me first and overpowered the low tannins. The flavor was tart verging on sour, so much so that it took me a little while to establish the flavors around the tartness. Unsurprisingly, when I thought about it, the main flavor I got was that of sour cherries with black pepper in the back.

I would never recommend any Sava, including the Sava Çalkarası Merlot, for actual drinking (unless you give it to someone you really don’t like or have no taste buds) but it made a pretty great Gluehwein. Although with twice as much sugar as the recipe calls for.

Speaking of things you should probably stay away from…I was grocery shopping the other day and came across this:

A jar of goat’s milk caramel. Of course I had to buy it. I’m not entirely sure I know how to describe it. It’s the darkest caramel I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t smell overtly goaty…but it really tastes like it. I like, nay, I LOVE goat cheese. I make goat cheese cheese cake and ice cream. I eat soft goat cheese, hard goat cheese, and every other kind of goat cheese that exists.

But this…the first time I tried it I felt like I got kicked in the mouth by a goat. I had a cheese once in Sarajevo that was possibly the only goat cheese I have tried and not liked. It tasted like licking an actual goat. That’s kind of how the caramel tasted. However I put it in the refrigerator anyway rather than throwing it away and today I decided to get it out again today and give it another try.

It’s still undeniably goaty but now I’m more intrigued by it instead of repulsed. I need to get some chocolate or a make a cheesecake or brownies and try the caramel on those. I feel like I wouldn’t be going wrong to dip pretzels in it either. Future testing will tell!

Arya Kalecik Karası Boğazkere

I was at The Cave, my local alcohol shop the other week looking for a selection of Turkish wines to try out on visiting friends. The guy who was helping was friendly but unfortunately useless as far as personal recommendations went as he doesn’t drink alcohol. Insert blank face here. So I ended up with two bottles, an expensive bottle of one of the Suvlas on my list and a cheap bottle of a wine I’ve never heard of-the 2013 Arya Kalecik Karası Boğazkere. That’s the one we’re reviewing today.

Right off the bat I wanted to like the Arya Kalecik Karası Boğazkere. I enjoy a butterfly so if you put one, a purple one no less, on your label I’m likely to be drawn to it. It also did not hurt that it was a pretty cheap wine, only 15 TL (about $7.50) and it was a blend of two of the Turkish reds I like: Kalecik Karası and Boğazkere. I was further happy when the wine turned out to be almost the exact shade of plummy purple as the butterfly on the label.

The nose was deep, dark, and full of dried red fruits. Similarly I would describe the flavor as being smooth, with light to no tanins, and full of red fruits. I could say these things. It’s possible I might even be right. But I’m not going to say these things. Sometimes when I drink a wine I don’t taste the undertones of flint, mint, or tobacco. Sometimes I don’t even taste the top notes of red fruits, blah, blah, blah. I just taste wine. So it was with the Arya Kalecik Karası Boğazkere.

Does that mean that the Arya Kalecik Karası Boğazkere was a bad wine? Not necessarily; it just wasn’t remarkable. I still rather liked it even. I found it to be kind of Chianti-esque and it went very well with pasta and pizza. Or maybe it was just because I ate pasta and pizza this weekend that I was thinking about Chiantis…

For only 15 TL a bottle I didn’t exactly expect an outstanding wine. Frankly I’m just happy that it wasn’t a hangover in a bottle. Would I buy it again? No, probably not; there are so many Turkish wines I have yet to try so why go back to something that didn’t blow me away?

Pamukkale Senfoni Dry Sultaniye

I am becoming a huge fan of the folks making wine over at Pamukkale. I think this is the fourth wine of theirs I’m reviewing? And so far every one of them has been a win. A few weeks ago I reviewed the semi-dry so this week it’s the Pamukkale Senfoni dry Sultaniye.

Like the semi-dry, the Pamukkale Senfoni dry Sultaniye was a hair sweeter than I’d expect from a pure dry wine but it was definitely a far cry from being sweet. Floral and oaky on the nose and a pleasing goldeny color, the Pamukkale Senfoni dry Sultaniye was nice before I even had my first sip. And after that I wanted another!

I talk a lot about how wine feels on the tongue which is something I don’t think is discussed often enough in tastings. If someone had forewarned me that the Sade was effervescent I’d never have tried it. No worries here though as this Pamukkale Senfoni dry Sultaniye was very silky and just a little viscous on the tongue.

The flavor held hints of oak but not so much as to offend my Chardonnay hating palate. I thought I was tasting some honey and melon but those are apparently not included in the Sultaniye grape flavor profile. The internet said I should be tasting: asparagus, pear, pineapple, floral, mango, lemon, golden and green apples, and hay. So not so much.

Much like the Terra Narince this slipped down quite nicely and before I knew it there was only one glass left, which I just managed to put away for another day.