Tag Archives: Sevilen

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!!

Sevilen 900

Sevilen’s 2010 900 Fume Blanc

I have never had a Fume Blanc before and had to Google to remind myself what it even was. A Fume Blanc is basically just a Sauvignon Blanc that has spent some significant time in oak. The process and name were popularized by Robert Mondavi of all people in the 60s or 70s. This Sevilen 900 Fume Blanc I found at Solera, no shock there. When they told me that it had been sitting on the shelf for three years, was the only one they had, and was in fact so forgotten that they didn’t even know how much it cost I simply had to have it. And since they didn’t know how much it cost they made up a price on the spot for me (67.50 TL with the discount).

Sevilen 900
Often when I buy wine it sits on shelf forever until I get around to drinking it. What I’m drinking as I type I bought a month ago at least.This one I opened almost immediately because I was so curious. In the glass it’s a beautiful, intense gold; pretty much the same color as the label. After having spent 10 months in oak and a few years in the bottle I would expect no less.

I really have no idea what was going on in the nose. This wine drove me nuts. I had three different friends try it, two of whom thought the bottle had gone off until they got used to the intense aromas. It definitely had not gone off but for the life of me I have no idea regarding the aromas or flavors.  Smokey for sure, some citrus maybe? It’s a big, full-bodied white with a long finish, low acid, and really creamy texture.

Sevilen 900
I have no idea if I liked this or not. This one by Seliven was my first Fume Blanc so I did not know what to expect. I now have another in my refrigerator and want to give that a try soon. I noticed that the Cave has the 2009 and I’m curious to try it…or at least ask how much it is! For the first time I have no conclusion one way or the other about a wine but I am curious to study this style more.

Isa Bey Narince

Sevilen Isa Bey Narince

My second foray into the land of Mr. Jesus wines was the 2013 Isa Bey Narince (35 TL at Carrefour). Isa Bey is a “concept” wine from Sevilen produced with the principle of tek bağ tek üzüm (one vineyard, one grape). As such they produce a smaller number of bottles each year than wineries that take grapes from other vineyards.

Narince is often compared to Chardonnay but other than sometimes sharing pineapple flavors I personally find them to be quite different. While it can be used to create dömisek wines, more often than not Narince is a dry wine with a sweet nose. The Isa Bey Narince follows this pattern with a nose of stone fruits and plumeria and light hints of of oak influence.

In the glass this light-bodied wine is a clear, pale yellow but with no hints of green. On the palate it is softly acidic and smooth with flavors of white peach and pineapple and light minerality.

I liked it more than I thought I would, frankly. However I do recommend serving the Isa Bey Narince on the colder side if you do not like the taste of oak in white wine. As it warmed the under tones of oak became more obvious and I found it to be very off-putting.

Isa Bey Chardonnay

Sevilen’s 2014 Isa Bey Chardonnay

It’s no secret how I feel about Chardonnay-basically I hate it. I enjoy a steel-aged Chardonnay but those are difficult to find in the US, finding one in Turkey is like finding a unicorn standing in a field of four-leaf clovers. However a friend of mine is a huge fan of Sevilen’s Isa Bey Chardonnay and at her prompting I tried a bottle.

Before we talk about the wine itself (35 TL from Carrefour, 69 from Solera) let’s talk about this particular line of Sevilen wines. Isa Bey means Mr. Jesus. Naming your wine after the guy famous for turning water into wine (if I but had a superpower!) is not a bad marketing gimmick.

As oaked Chardonnays go this was not horrendous. Which is about as ringing an endorsement as I will likely ever give an oaked Chardonnay.

While the Isa Bey Chardonnay looks like a darker yellow/gold in the picture that has more to do with lighting than the actual color which was paler than I expect from a Chardonnay. Being a 2014 it is a bit younger so I’m throwing out a guess that it did not spend a great deal of time in oak. The nose was light, faintly floral with citrus blossoms and green apple. On the palate it was crisp with lively acidity and a medium, slightly buttery finish. For me the overwhelming flavor aspect was green apple with undertones of citrus.

For those who like dry, oaked white wines but for whom your standard Chardonnay is too full bodied the Isa Bey Chardonnay is a good choice. It’s not a heavy white but is quite quaffable. I’m still not a convert but I will try some other Mr. Jesus wines this summer!

Sevilen R

The 2010 Sevilen R

Over the summer I reviewed Sevilen’s W, a Sauvignon Blanc, which E, M, and I all really enjoyed so when I saw the Sevilen R at Carrefour I thought we had to try it. Sadly I did not like it nearly as much as I did the W.

Sevilen R is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot and I wonder if part of why I didn’t like this one could be attributed to that blend. I love Petit Verdot but I do not love Merlot (which we know) and it’s a rare that I find a Cabernet Franc that I like. My tastes aside though neither E nor M were super impressed with this one either.

Ruby red to rim with a nose of blueberry, cherry, spice, and roses Sevilen R started out on a promising foot. However the low tannins and an improperly balanced high level of acid were a let down that made it rather disappointing.

It wasn’t terrible and certainly went better with food than it was on its own. However for 40TL there are nicer wines out there. For a few extra TL you can get Gali’s gorgeous Bordeaux blend or Arda’s lovely, soft Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sevillen W

Sevilen W 2012 White Blend

A while back E and I trekked out to the Kanyon mall to visit Macro Center-a place I have avoided for two and a half years because I heard it was addictive. Macro Center, you see, is the import grocery store. In the end I was actually pretty disappointed by it. My local Carrefour carries a lot of the same things; although I was thrilled beyond measure to find large tubs of red curry paste! No more having to get people to bring/send me the itty bitty pots of Thai Kitchen paste. I was of course hoping that the import store would have a decent selection of foreign wines (and I heard that you could get them cheaper there than at La Cave)…

I bought local wines. Who goes to the fancy import store and comes home with local products? Apparently I do. The imported wine selection was slim and, like at many of the alcohol stores in Istanbul, it was a selection of the bottom of the barrel wines at top shelf prices. No thank you. So I purchased a couple Turkish wines I’d never seen before, one of which was the Sevilen W 2012.

Frankly I was drawn to this because of the label. I’m not too proud to admit that I often choose wine based on how attractive I find the label so, kudos to the ad people. This particular label reminded me of “Wicked” which has long been both one of my favorite books and musicals.

The Sevilen W is a blend of Semillion and Sauvignon Blanc, a blend we tried (in reverse) recently with Suvla. The W is a very pale straw yellow with a delicate floral, citrus, apple nose. On the palate it’s clean, dry, and with a long finish with a lot of citrus and apple. Really lovely. We really liked this one.

The wine went beautifully with our dinner that night of grilled vegetables, Turkish carrot salad (recipe below!), and…the Heaven…pork sausage. Which we bought at the Macro Center. I love you, Devil’s Meat.

I would definitely by the Sevilen W again. We all really enjoyed it and even as much as I love wine even I have to say that it can be difficult to find a wine that you like both with and without food and that is an easy drinking experience. I may even dare to blaspheme and say that I liked this better than the Suvla iteration…

Turkish Carrot Salad:

  • 4-5 large carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-4 big cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 500 grams thick yogurt (suzme if you’re in Turkey, otherwise Greek yogurt should work)
  1. Heat the oil over medium flames and cook the grated carrots with salt and pepper until they’re about half done, you want them still crunchy. Frankly I don’t know why you want to half cook them but the chef on our blue cruise (who taught me the recipe) said to do it. When they’re (half) done set them aside to cool.
  2. Crush the garlic cloves and combine them with the yogurt.
  3. When the carrots are cool, combine them with the yogurt and let your taste buds explode!

2013 Majestik Syrah & Kalecik Karasi

Whenever I go into Carrefour I take a quick look at the wine section to see if I can find red wines at a) I haven’t tried yet, b) aren’t massively over priced, and c) aren’t Merlots. My options are dwindling. I did manage to find something from Sevilen’s Majestik line that I haven’t tried yet; its 2013 Syrah/Kalecik Karasi blend.

I find that I tend to enjoy the flavor of a wine more if I feel it has a pleasing color. This must be some sot of subconscious something but holds true in this case. I thought the dark purply-red color was lovely. I’d love a dress in that color.

The nose of the Majestik was as pleasing as the color, redolent with red fruits, especially raspberries. I love wines that have a heavier berry profile (which likely explains my preference for red to white wines).

Medium tannins on the palate which quickly gave way to an explosion of forest fruits (again especially raspberries) and I think tobacco? The 2013 Majestik Syrah/Kalecik Karasi wasn’t an especially layered or complex wine but any time I get an explosion of juicy forest fruits I’m jumping on the band wagon. Wine doesn’t always have to be complicated or leave you stumped as you search for descriptors for what you’re tasting. I like slightly jammy wines with berry profiles and a little tannin to make it interesting; therefore I like this one and imagine I’ll go back for more.

It did not hurt that this went with one of my favorite dinners: cheese and bread with oil and balsamic!