Tag Archives: red wine

red wine

Chateau Kalpak BBK 2011

Even before our trip to Chateau Kalpak with Em and AJ I’d had a few of their wines. One of them being the AWC Gold Medal winner BBK 2011.

Chateau Kalpak is the love child of Bülent Kalpaklıoğlu who began developing the vineyard in 2003. It was not until 2010 that he released his first vintage. His goal for Chateau Kalpak is to create a single chateau-style wine from a single vineyard. In order to achieve this, he picked the best root-stocks and clones of the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot to match the vineyard terrior.

Only two blends are released annually: Chateau Kalpak and BBK. They harvest, ferment, and age (30-36 months) each parcel (about 1 hectar) separately. At Chateau Kalpak they use Hungarian oak barriques made out of wood selected for their balance, bouquet, and character. This establishes the basis of their “Chateau Wine”. From their they spend months conducting extensive blend studies for the Chateau Kalpak label. The remaining wines are re-blended to create the BBK label.

BBK 2011

Chateau Kalpak’s story and process are absolutely worth a deeper look and I suggest checking out the website (link above). Bülent Bey elevates wine making to a form of fine art with his thoughtfulness and attention to detail. All of which has paid off for him. Not only does he make beautiful wine but he has the gold medals to prove it. Chateau Kalpak is the only vineyard in Turkey to win a three star rating (2014) from the International Wine Challenge (AWC) in Vienna. Additionally they received six gold and three silver medals from the AWC and three gold medals from the Concours Mondial Bruxelles.

Chateau Kalpak BBK 2011 Tasting Notes:

The BBK might be Chateau Kalpak’s second wine but that in no way means it’s an inferior wine. In fact personally I liked the BBK 2011 more than I did the same vintage Chateau Kalpak. A bold blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot with a 14.7% abv, the BBK 2011 is a wine to be taken seriously.

The nose is a dark, romantic mystery. Aromas of black fruit, baking spices, dark chocolate, and mocha wrap your senses like a silken cocoon. Beautifully balanced with velvety tannins, the BBK held us in thrall and continued to develop and open as we sank into its spell. In addition to the black fruits and dark chocolate from the nose; clove, vanilla, and caramel each vied for their turn to take center stage. The long finish lingered with flavors of smoke and a hint of meat.

We made a pilgrimage in that bottle and found the light. It might have been a brilliant ruby light, but we found it.

The Suvla Sur 2012

I have been lucky enough to try three different vintages of Suvla’s Sur: the 2010, 2011, and 2012. A few years ago I wrote about the 2010 and 2011 side by side so it’s time to tackle the Sur 2012. They’re all beautiful wines. I wish I could get one of each for a vertical tasting but I believe the 2010 is sold out. It hurts no one’s feelings though to drink the Sur 2012!

Suvla is a family owned wine producer. In 2003 Pınar Ellialtı and Selim Zafer Ellialtı established the winery in Eceabat. Because of their location along the Çanakkale Strait (also known as Dardanelles); they named the winery after a bay in the north coast of the Aegean Sea. In 2006 after the first harvest they named the main vineyard ‘Bozokbağ’ after their newborn son ‘Bozok’.

Sur 2012

The Suvla vineyards are nestled in the historical Peninsula of Gallipoli, between the North Aegean coast and the Sea of Marmara. They produce a wide variety of grapes. The whites include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, and Marsanne. The reds include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Grenache Noir, Petit Verdot, and Pinot Noir. In addition they also produce indigenous grape varieties, including Kınalı Yapıncak and Karasakız. In 2013 Suvla switched to organic viticulture and as a result received a certification of ‘Good Agriculture Practice – GAP’.

Sur 2012

Suvla Sur 2012 Tasting Notes:

The Sur 2012 is a Bordeaux blend of Merlot (73%), Cabernet Sauvignon (15%), Cabernet Franc (7%), and Petit Verdot (5%). After fermentation it spent 12 months in oak barriques before being bottled and released.

The Sur is a balance of power and elegance regardless of which vintage you get. At% abv there’s no denying the power certainly! Blackberry, spices, jalepeño, and mocha mingle in the nose. The palate is perfectly balanced with smooth, elegant tannins and mouthwatering acid, Sweet, ripe blackberries, black pepper, and mocha invite you on a romantic journey.

This is one of those wines you could drink in one sitting without noticing what you’ve done. The Suvla Pied Piper beckons you deeper into the bottle until you’ve drowned in it. Happy way to go!

Chateau Nuzun 2009

Established in 2004, Chateau Nuzun is one of Turkey’s boutique wineries. Only an hour drive away (depending on the insanity level of traffic!) it is possibly the closest one to Istanbul. I’ve had a few of their wines over the years but the Chateau Nuzun 2009 blend was by far my favorite.

Chateau Nuzun is an organic vineyard located in Tekirdağ. The vineyards (in Çeşmeli) enjoy a terroir made up of gravel and sand stone soils over layers of compacted clay and breezes from the Marmara Sea (5 km away). Half of the estate is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon; one third with Merlot, and the remaining plots are Syrah and Pinot Noir. The Chateau Nuzun 2009 is a blend of the varietals planted there.

Chateau Nuzun 2009

Chateau Nuzun 2009 Tasting Notes:

Like its other wines the Chateau Nuzun 2009 blend is organic. The wine spent about 13 months in French oak and then another year in the bottle before being released. So no wonder this vintage will set you back about 100 TL give or take. It’s also unfiltered so I recommend decanting over a candle. I didn’t get a lot of sediment at all but better safe than sorry! Because if you’ve ever accidentally swallowed a mouthful of sediment you know that is not pleasant.

In the glass this super blend is a dark, opaque ruby. The nose was super involved. We got black pepper, jam, blackberry, black currant leaf, violets, cinnamon, and vanilla. You can tell that I broke out the Aromaster kit with this one! The palate was all velvety tannins, well-balanced, with a nice, somewhat jammy finish. The flavors followed from the nose especially the fruit, vanilla, and baking spices.

This was a really nice wine, absolutely worth the price tag.

Todoroff Thracians Mystery

I bought this bottle of 2010 Thracians Mystery Cabernet Sauvignon when E and I were at Todoroff in Bulgaria. I could see E rolling her eyes at me when I bought a bottle for myself and another for M…but look at this bottle! How could I not buy something this ridiculously fabulous?! There’s a ‘medal’ glued onto it above a ‘gold’ (aka colored tin) label.

Thracian's Mystery

Honestly I opened this pretty hesitantly. Something that needs this much make up couldn’t possibly be very good, right?

Thracian's Mystery

Todoroff Thracians Mystery Tasting Notes:

This 2010 Thracians Mystery was a pretty hefty Cabernet Sauvignon with 14.5% abv. Aged in new oak, it’s a limited production from Todoroff. The winery made only 13,000 bottles of the 2010.

I was not expecting much from this but was pleasantly surprised. Although it turns out that E&M (who will drink almost anything) really did not like it. Such are the vagaries of individual tastes!

Dark inky purple in the glass, the wine looked as ‘mysterious’ shall we say and imposing as the ornate bottle. The nose was very typical of Cabernet Sauvignon with lots of red fruits, pepper, baking spices, vanilla, and cocoa. I found the palate to be balanced with smooth, round tannins, and a long finish. It was also more complex than I was expecting. Initial flavors of red fruits and baking spices gave way to caramel and smoke.

Saranta Chateau Murou Merlot 2014

Saranta is one of those wineries in Turkey that I vaguely knew existed. However I had never seen any of their wines in Istanbul until the Sommelier’s Selection Turkey in February. That is when I finally encountered not only Saranta wines, but their brilliant Chateau Murou collection. And to my deep surprise, that’s where I decided the Chateau Murou Merlot was worth breaking my Merlot ban.

Since February I have been on tenterhooks trying to find some Chateau Murou for my very own. Finally in May I was browsing the shelves of La Cave inn Cihangir when I spotted, sitting on the floor in a corner all on their own, a few bottles of Chateau Murou. They had one each of the Merlot, the Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Shiraz. And they all became mine. I suspect I provide great amusement to the gentlemen who work at La Cave when I go into excited raptures over finding new and long-awaited wines.

Chateau Murou Merlot

I hosted a chocolate paired wine tasting in June and knew that the Chateau Murou Merlot would be a perfect match for dark chocolate. I picked up two bottles (100 TL each from La Cave) and paired it with a dark-bitter (72% cocoa) chocolate and a dark chocolate goat cheese truffle. Fantastic.

Given my general attitude towards Merlot it was unsurprising that people were shocked that I put a Merlot on our list. However once they all tried the Chateau Murou Merlot they were willing to follow me to the dark side.

Chateau Murou Merlot

Saranta Chateau Murou Merlot 2014 Tasting Notes:

At only 13% abv this is a medium bodied wine; but don’t let that fool you! It might be medium in body but it delivers in a big way.

In the nose the fruit is secondary for me. I was almost overwhelmed by the earthy aromas of clay and gunpowder supported by green/herbal scents and pepper. Lurking underneath all of that were wisps of dark, black fruits like sugarplum and berry jam. Succulent tannins wrap themselves around the tongue and carry the fruit flavors to a nice, lingering finish.

Has this changed my mind about Merlot in general? No. However the Chateau Murou Merlot is not just another Merlot; it’s a Merlot with attitude.

Turasan Kalecik Karası 2015

This Turasan Kalecik Karası 2015 was part of a shipment of wines I got from Turasan a while back. Kalecik Karası was the first wine made out of native Turkish grapes that I really liked and while I’ve come to love what Turkey does with international grapes more, I still try a new one from time to time.

Turasan is possibly one of the most well known wineries in Turkey. Certainly the most well known in Cappadocia. The winery produces a wide range of styles, grapes, and quality levels. I’ve mostly only had the wines from the low and mid price ranges but would really like to try some of the higher end wines soon. One of the things I love about Turasan is their Emir. Not a lot of wineries in Turkey produce Emir wines which makes Turasan’s extra special.

Turasan Kalecik Karası

On its own, for me, the Turasan Kalecik Karası was a little bit of a disappointing drinking experience. While it might not have been my favorite stand along drinking wine; it was a great food wine. It did go pretty well with our dinner of cold pasta salad with grilled vegetables, Greek pork sausage, and white cheese. Not all bad, and cheap (only about 25 TL directly from Turasan).

Turasan Kalecik Karası

Turasan Kalecik Karası 2015 Tasting Notes:

This is a pretty standard Kalecik Karası in the nose with aromas of red berries and candy. The palate is berries, licorice, and black pepper. Fairly well balanced but with something of a cliffhanger finish. One minute it’s there but the next it’s gone.

In the end the Turasan Kalecik Karası is a simple wine that isn’t going going your palate. Also nice drinking for the summer if you’re not quite a rose person (like me). This would not be hurt at all by a little chilling before you open it.

Zero Compromises: Georgian Wine Festivals

Procrastination is my first, middle, and last name. But I couldn’t wait any longer to write about the Zero Compromises and New Wine Festival events I attended last month in Georgia. Months ago I saw an advert on the Georgian Wine Club‘s Facebook page for the New Wine Festival. Armed only with a vague mid May date I started planning my return to Tbilisi.

Zero Compromises

But before I get to the New Wine Festival; Zero Compromises. About two weeks before I left for Tbilisi I saw a post from Vino Underground advertising the Zero Compromises festival. Unlike the New Wine Festival, this would feature only natural wine makers from around Georgia.

Zero Compromises

Hosted in three wine bar/restaurants in Tbilisi this was my favorite of the two events. For the low, low price of 25 Lari (about $10) you got a tasting glass and all access pass to all three restaurants.

Zero Compromises

While both events were fantastic, Zero Compromises was more intimate. The majority of attendees were wine lovers there to taste, learn, and meet with the wine makers. The New Wine Festival was more of a drinking free for all. So unlike the New Wine Festival, Zero Compromises afforded me the opportunity to meet and talk to a lot of the (natural) wine makers which was really exciting for me.

Zero Compromises

I learned so much at Zero Compromises. Largely that I need four hands, actually. Juggling a pen, my tasting book, taking pictures, giving and receiving business cards, and the all important wine glass was a little too much for me. So most of my pictures came out pretty blurred. None of which I’m sure had anything to do with the amount of wine I had. I forgot to count how many makers came out and how many wines they had but even a sip or two of each wine was enough to make juggling everything just a tad too difficult. Throw in a 3 AM wake up call, a flight, and little food and forget about it.

Zero Compromises

I somehow managed to make it to all three venues before packing it in. Although I really phoned in the last place. I’d given up taking notes when I realized I couldn’t really read the last few pages I’d taken. I needed food. Thank goodness I was in a country that knows how to throw down in the kitchen! I went to a restaurant I’ve liked in the past and ordered way too much food. But I had such a limited time in Tbilisi and I wanted to eat everything.

Zero Compromises

I started where I always do with what is possibly my favorite Georgian dish: sauteed eggplant slices layered with walnuts ground with garlic and Georgian spices. Pomegranate seeds are usually added as a pretty garnish but I for one think that they really add to the overall dish.

Zero Compromises

The eggplant was followed by lobiani (bread stuffed with lobio-seasoned beans-and baked) and pork and potatoes sauteed with something yummy. They packed up most of the lobiani for me to take back to my hotel. Then it was early to bed for me so I could get up and do it all over again the next day!

Zero Compromises

Located in Mtatsminda Park above Tbilisi, the New Wine Festival is not new. It features ‘new’ wines (i.e. the most recent vintages). This was a true free-for-all. When I learned online that there was no festival entry fee I felt that for sure one would have to pay per tasting. Not so. There must have been 100 or more wineries there and all tastings were free.

Zero Compromises

I arrived early and with a half-baked strategy got down to business. I was glad that I did that because within a couple hours the area was packed with people. Mostly people just looking to score some free wine. However I was able to talk to a couple producers and follow up with some I’d met the day before at Zero Compromises.

Zero Compromises

I took a brief break to bolt down a couple bottles of water and for a snack of possibly the best pork mstvadi (shashlik) I’ve ever had. Cooked over hot coals in the center of the park, the mstvadi was crispy on the outside and dripping with grease and juices. If the line to get some hadn’t been such a moshpit of inefficiency I’d have gone back for more.

Zero Compromises

Believe it or not but that’s a rose!!

One of the producers I was happy to be able to meet was the team from Tanini. And I will now say something I have never before said: I was really sorry to not be able to get a bottle of their rose. I know. They promised me that the rose had little to no skin contact but look at that color! Saperavi grapes are one of the very few that have not only purple skins but purple fruit. So the juice itself is naturally already a purple-red color. I can’t see anyone making a blanc de noirs from that!

Zero Compromises

Then it was time for more food! Another round of pork mtsvadi for me. Although this wasn’t nearly as good as what I had in the park. It was however accompanied with the traditional ajika sauce which is all kinds of spicy delightfulness.

My trip didn’t end there! While the two days of serious wine tasting had just about done me in I still had another day of wine tasting and shopping ahead of me. But before I could get there I went to a festival after party. I was invited by a guy I met at Zero Compromises so armed with a GPS location and a game cab driver I tried to find the location of the house party. Which turned out to be half way up a mountain on the edge of Tbilisi in an unfinished housing development. I was pretty sure I was going to get ax murdered. But that’s another story!

Chamlija Kalecik Karası 2015

My visit last year to Chamlija’s tasting restaurant near Kırklareli in Turkey’s Thracian wine region was more of a “flying” visit than anything else. However while there I discovered that Chamlija has a much larger range of wines that I was seeing in Istanbul; including the Chamlija Kalecik Karası. 

Since my visit last summer more and more Chamlija wines are easily available in Istanbul. La Cave in Cihangir has an entire wall section for their stock now. And I believe that the Chamlija Kalecik Karası is one of them.

Chamlija Kalecik Karası

Tasting notes 2015 Chamlija Kalecik Karası:

Chamlija’s Kalecik Karası was treated with French oak for six months and will age well for about 10 years. While the oak treatment was not extensive, it really heightened the inherent aromas of the grape. The nose was really quite lovely-black cherry, forest fruits, and chocolate.

On the palate the Chamlija Kalecik Karası showed a lot of earthiness which I didn’t expect at all. My experience with this grape previously has been more of the light weight and bright fruits variety. At 13.5% abv this had a solid, medium body with light tannins. And while it didn’t have much in the way of a finish, the flavors of mulberry, blackberry, and chocolate were quite lovely.

This would probably go really well with tomato-based foods. For whatever reason that I don’t understand, high acid wines want high acid food so tomato-based sauces and pizza would pair really well this!

A Visit to Flam Winery

Some time ago I posted a review of Flam’s Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Since I was able to visit the Flam Winery, located outside Jerusalem. While there I tasted wines, bought wines, and got to meet the charming founder and owner, Israel Flam.

Flam Winery

Flam Winery is a family business. Israel’s wife, two sons, and daughter are all involved in the business. They planted their vineyards in the Upper Galilee and Judean Hills. Like many Israeli wineries Flam shares a dedication to creating terroir-driven, quality wines.

They insist on low-yield harvests that are then hand harvested and sorted. Established in 1998 Flam emphasizes quality over quantity. This is especially evident in the winery’s annual production numbers. Flam continues to produce a limited amount every year; averaging 150,000 bottles.

Flam Winery

Flam makes two main lines: a classic blend and a reserve. There is also the Flam Noble however production is so limited I wasn’t able to get my hands on any. I did get to taste two of the classic blends and the three reserves. Also not on offer for the tasting was the Flam Rose (Cabernet Franc and Syrah) but since I don’t particularly like rose I was okay about that.

Flam Winery

Flam Classico Tasting Notes:

Flam Classico is a single vineyard blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Syrah. Aged 30% in American oak and 70% French oak this is a drink it soon wine. By which I mean it is not ageable.

The nose is fruity with some soft spices. It’s a medium-bodied wine with 13.5% abv. The palate is again fruity with green pepper, spice, good tannin structure, and fairly high acid. This is a food wine and would probably pair well with meat, tomato-based, and rustic dishes.

Flam Winery

Flam Merlot Reserve 2015 Tasting Notes:

One interesting thing I learned at Flam is that Israeli wine laws require that single-varietal wines have to be 85% that wine to be labeled as such. So Flam’s Merlot is not 100% Merlot, it’s at least 85% Merlot. I was naturally prepared to not like this, because Merlot.

After 12 months in French oak, the Flam Merlot Reserve had a nose of spices, violets, and red fruits. The tannins were slightly sharp but some bottle time would make this really elegant. The wine was fruit-driven with soft spices and a slightly sweet finish. All in all not bad for a Merlot. But not exciting enough to get me to buy any.

I did walk away from the visit with a few bottles: another Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, the Syrah Reserve (which surprised me), and the Flam Blanc. Reviews on the latter two soon!

Paşaeli 2010 Hoşköy Cabernet Sauvignon

This lovely Hoşköy Cabernet Sauvignon I first had at a Paşaeli tasting with Şarap Atölyesi. I really like Paşaeli’s wines, the K2 being a general favorite, and this was my favorite of the night. So of course when I found out that Paşaeli ships half cases I ordered a bottle (120 TL direct from Paşaeli).

Hoşköy Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is my grape here in Turkey. It’s not my favorite grape in the world being surpassed by virtually anything Italian or Spanish, but Turkey does a good Cabernet Sauvignon and I find myself gravitating towards Turkish Cabs and Bordeaux blends.

Paşaeli’s Hoşköy vineyard, located in Turkey’s Thracian region, has a long and warm growing season; much like France’s Bordeaux making it ideal for Cabernet Sauvignon. With Paşaeli’s care they’ve gone from quality grapes to a truly quality wine. This bad boy is beautiful now but will also age 10 to 15 years-from the release date.

How much care has gone into this 2010 Hoşköy Cabernet Sauvignon? To be brief-a lot. The wine spent two long years maturing in oak barrels then another 18 months in bottle before being released.

Hoşköy Cabernet Sauvignon

Paşaeli Hoşköy Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting Notes:

In the glass the Hoşköy Cabernet Sauvignon is a deep, opaque ruby color. The nose is classic Cabernet full of dark berries, black cherry, cassis, vanilla, pepper, and mint.

With 14.5% abv this is not a shy wine and the palate lets you know it. There are some gorgeous tannins here with a strong backbone of mouthwatering acid leading to a long, smooth finish of cassis and vanilla.

This is a lovely wine now but if you have the patience to wait a few more years I think it will become truly elegant.