Tag Archives: Thrace

Doluca Alçitepe Cabernet Shiraz 2013

Doluca is one of the largest wine outfits in Turkey. In 1926 the Maison Vinikol at Galata was founded and became the base for Doluca. they began with Yapıncak and Karlahna grapes, then in 1935 brought back Cinsault, Semillon, Riesling, and Gamay from Europe. It wasn’t until the 1940s that the company premiered wines under the name Doluca but they’ve been going strong ever since.

Doluca’s main operations are located in Tekirdağ, part of Turkey’s Thrace. When I said that it is one of the largest outfits in Turkey I was not exaggerating. Doluca has an annual production capacity of 14 million liters. Their production warehouse can manage 1.3 million bottles at a time. Wow.

Alçitepe Cabernet Shiraz

With that level of capacity it’s not a surprise that Doluca produces wine under a number of labels. Seven of them to be exact: Alçitepe, Signium, Sarafin, Karma, Kav, Tuğra, DLC, Verano, Safir, Antik, and Villa Doluca.

Doluca’s website has a list that goes for pages of awards their wines have won. Gold, silver, and bronze medals along with other accolades awarded at international competitions from around the world. The Alçitepe line, which premiered just in the last few years, is already earning some of those awards.

Alçitepe Cabernet Shiraz

Doluca Alçitepe Cabernet Shiraz 2013 Tasting Notes:

To start, the Doluca Alçitepe Cabernet Shiraz 2013 is a lovely color of clear, intense ruby. And at a whopping 15.5% abv it’s intense in more ways than one! It’s a wine definitely in need of some breathing otherwise the alcohol is rather overwhelming in the nose. However once you’re past that you can enjoy the sensuous combination of dark fruits, smoked meat, caramel, and baking spices.

When I first began my explorations into wine I often wondered at some of the descriptions I read. You can find and taste fruits, herbs, spices, etc…but how do you know what some of these other things are supposed to taste like? Wet stone? Ash? Dusty? Sure I don’t dust my bookshelves nearly as often as I should but I can’t imagine I’m supposed to lick them to learn what ‘dust’ tastes like.

What I’ve learned is that you kind of know it when you taste it. Like the Doluca Alçitepe Cabernet Shiraz 2013. Tart black raspberry dominates but is made interesting by notes of smoke and dusty/dried leaves that weave in and out. Beautifully balanced on the palate with round, silky tannins and a long finish. It drinks a bit sweet (although a dry wine) with the sweet spice and vanilla influence of oak. Prior to its release the Doluca Alçitepe Cabernet Shiraz 2013 spent eight months in oak (65% French and 35% American).

The Alçitepe wines are a limited bottling. This particular one was bottle 2,932 out of 10,800. They are also Doluca’s most expensive line running an average price of 175 TL.

Saranta Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Saranta is one of the new kinds on the block of the Turkish wine industry. While established in 2007 and with a debut vintage in 2010 we’ve only really seen Saranta wines in Istanbul over the past year.  Happily for wine lovers Saranta is hiding no longer. They exploded on the main stage at the Sommeliers’ Selection Turkey 2017. A few months later Saranta wines were popping up in Istanbul bottle shops.

Located in Turkey’s Thrace, just a stone’s throw from another Thracian jewel, Vino Dessera, Saranta is producing quality wines under two labels: Saranta and Chateau Murou.

Saranta

Saranta sources grapes from its own vineyards in Kırklareli as well as from other growers in the Thracian region. After processing in its state of the art facilities wines are aged and stored in the beautiful cellar. Wines with the Saranta label are aged entirely in stainless steel. Wines labeled Chateau Murou age in French oak barriques.

Saranta

Saranta will soon offer not only tours and tastings in its beautiful tasting room but also a place to stay. Right next door to the winery’s facilities stands a lovely, nearly complete boutique hotel.

Saranta Sauvignon Blanc

Saranta Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Tasting Notes:

The Saranta Sauvignon Blanc has a flinty nose with undertones of citrus. The acid is rather on the high side but the overall wine is nicely balanced. On the palate there’s lots of citrus (lemon peel and grapefruit) with a slightly warm, lemon curd finish. The Kırklareli terroir makes itself known in the wine and you can taste the distinctive minerals from the quartz-laden soils.

I’m really looking forward to more of Saranta’s wines!

Vino Dessera 190 2014

The Vino Dessera 190 has a special place in my heart. It, along with one of the Prodom blends, was one of the first wines I tried here that made me believe Turkish wine could be really good. I do not now remember if it was specifically the 190 2014 … but I enjoy all the 190 blends equally.

Vino Dessera was established in 2012, but to understand the full story of these fields we need to jump a little further back. When the owner’s first grandchild was born, abiding by a very thoughtful Anatolian tradition, he planted approximately 600 walnut trees along the green slopes of Thrace. And, as it turns out, he never stopped. Motivated partially by self-competition, when his second grandchild was born, he planted wine grapes in 2000. And, so too Vino Dessera was born. Today, the vineyard is a family-run operation growing both international and local grapes and producing approximately 100,000 bottles every year.

190 2014

I got to visit Vino Dessera in September where I met Doğan Dönmez; the man responsible for the 190. I learned that each vintage of the 190 is a different blend. This is not a chateau-style winery aiming for a steady blend year after year. While that certainly has its merit there’s also something exciting about the flip side. Challenging yourself year after year to make a new blend. The same invariable quality but different grapes and different blends.

The Vino Dessera 190 2014 is a blend of Shiraz and Merlot sourced from their vineyards in both Kırklareli (Thrace) and Kilis (Anatolia). Matured for 12 months in oak before bottling it blends the flavors of the grapes, their terroir, and oak. My friend M said that the wine’s flavor is that of a kiss. Not a kiss of passion but one of romance.

Who doesn’t want to drink a wine described like that?!

190 2014

Vino Dessera 190 2014 Tasting Notes:

The Vino Dessera 190 2014 is a big blend with 15% abv and an opaque, inky purple-ruby color. The nose is full of intense forest fruits, dark chocolate, and cloves. Generally well-balanced with a nice tannic structure the palate is a little jammy with the added depth of sweet, baking spices.

Vino Dessera wines are always excellent quality but it’s the 190 blends that I like the most. In fact it might be fun to gather a number of vintages and do a comparison tasting. I might just do that!

Chateau Nuzun 2011

In September I had the opportunity to visit Chateau Nuzun where I tasted the Chateau Nuzun 2011. The tour, through Piano Piano and lead by expert Turkish sommelier Murat Mumcuoglu took us to five vineyards in Turkey’s Thrace.

Our first stop was at Chateau Nuzun where we were greeted by one of the winery’s founders, Nazan Uzun. Nazan showed us around the vineyards where the Cabernet Sauvignon and Öküzgözü grapes were still ripening.

Chateau Nuzun 2011

Chateau Nuzun is a boutique winery where they believe that good wines can only be made from excellent grapes. Hence, they concentrate on good viticulture practices. All their grapes are certified organic. They practice minimal intervention in their vineyards and let nature do its thing. Gravel and sandstone soil over clay allows them to dry farm. The majority of the vineyards sit at an altitude of 110m to 140m, all facing south with a slope of 18%. The Pinot Noir parcel is the exception; it which faces north with an 8% slope.

Nazan and Necdet first planted their vines in 2004 and four years later made their first wine with the 2008 vintage. They’ve been going strong every since.

Chateau Nuzun 2011

I’ve tried Chateau Nuzun wines in the past but it’s been a few years. Honestly I was not entirely sure why people made such a fuss. However since my first encounter with Chateau Nuzun I’ve learned a lot about wine. My palate has developed and I’ve learned how to enjoy wines that are more complicated. I am now a Chateau Nuzun convert.

Chateau Nuzun 2011

Luckily Chateau Nuzun wines are pretty widely available in Istanbul. Comedus, La Cave, Rind, MacroCenter, İncirli Şaraphane… I bought three bottles, including the Chateau Nuzun 2011 blend when I visited the vineyard. Soon I’ll be heading to these shops to buy more!

Chateau Nuzun 2011

Chateau Nuzun 2011 Tasting Notes:

The Chateau Nuzun 2011 is a big blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Pinot Noir. And when I say big…14.3% abv. The nose is complicated with layers of fruit, herb, spice, and earth. On the palate it’s well-balanced with round, velvety tannins. Beautiful fruit expressions on the attack with intriguing underlying tones of earth and cinnamon on the finish.

There are so many reasons to love Chateau Nuzun wines. Nazan and Necdet’s enthusiasm for what they do is reflected in their wines and contagious! Furthermore by drinking their wines you get to support a small business that emphasizes sustainable practices. And most of all…the wines are amazing.

Adnan Kutman Öküzgözü Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

I don’t drink Kutman wines often. Every time I do though I am reminded that it’s something I should do more often. Like the Adnan Kutman Öküzgözü Cabernet Sauvignon, Kutman wines are a balance of both the fruit and the winemaker’s expression. While not every one will knock your socks off; they are dependable options.

Kutman is one of Turkey’s many wineries with vineyards located in the prolific Thracian region. However those aren’t Kutman’s only vineyards. They also grow in the Ege district of Turkey’s Aegean region. They grapes for this particular wine come from both vineyards.

Öküzgözü is a native Turkish varietal. Originally from the country’s east (Anatolia), it is a delicate and fussy grape that has managed to do fairly well in other parts of the country. Öküzgözü generally creates easy to drink wines that are medium-bodied, high in acid, and have delicate fruity-floral aromas. Blending it with the much bigger personality inherent in Cabernet Sauvignon gives Öküzgözü a bit more depth of character.

Kutman Öküzgözü Cabernet Sauvignon

Adnan Kutman Öküzgözü Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Tasting Notes:

I do not know the blend percentages but the high acid and lower alcohol (12.5% abv) lead me to suspect that it is majority Öküzgözü. However that does not mean that the Cabernet Sauvignon has not made its presence felt.

The nose was rather aromatic with both red and black fruits, green bell pepper, mint, chocolate, and some baking spices. The latter likely a result of the wine’s 12 months in oak. Medium-bodied with smooth, light tannins, the palate displayed the delicacy of the Öküzgözü with light fruits giving way to subtle green flavors.

Chamlija Blanc de Noirs Fume

In the semi-recent past I lead a tasting called the Four Faces of Papaskarası. We tasted four of Chamlija’s Papaskarası wines: the Blanc de Noirs, Blanc de Noirs Fume, Papaskarası, and Papaskarası Reserve. I’ve had the Blanc de Noirs before but this was my first go round with the Chamlija Blanc de Noirs Fume. It was not only my favorite of the night but everyone’s favorite!

I often feel spoiled as there are a number of wineries that ship directly to me; Chamlija being one of them. However there are a couple Chamlija wines for which I would pay the inflated retail price. The Blanc de Noirs Fume is one of them.

Chamlija Papaskarası

Papaskarası’s story is interesting. Papaskarası is a grape native to Turkey’s Thracian region with a history going back at least 1,500 years. It is not a well-known grape even in Turkey where it’s cultivated by few winemakers-namely Chamlija, Melen, and Edrine. Papaskarası grapes have the ability to make versatile wines that are aromatic, fruit-forward, and naturally highly acidic light bodied red wines and blanc de noir white wines.

Chamlija Blanc de Noirs Fume

Chamlija Blanc de Noirs Fume 2015 Tasting Notes:

I was really surprised by how light this was for a fume. You can see even in the picture how pale yellow the wine was. Even though I’d had the Blanc de Noirs before I really had no idea what to expect from the Fume. The differences were somehow both subtle and huge.

The nose of the Fume was full of white peaches, tropical fruits, and vanilla. In the mouth it was delightful. Absolutely delightful. Very nice acidity; fresh and lively. The flavors echoed the nose with more white peaches, tropical fruits (mango), and a hint of cream and butter.

At 12.5% abv and the refreshing flavors this was one of those wines that I call Dangerously Drinkable.  It slipped down very easily (perhaps too easily!) especially paired with the spicy chipotle chicken salad I was eating.

I see another order to Chamlija in my near future to stock up on this for summer drinking!

Barbare Libra 2012

Barbare is perhaps one of my favorite Turkish wineries. Their wines range from perfectly lovely to truly special and the Libra is no exception.

Sitting between the villages of Barbaros and Yazır in Tekirdağ, Barbare grapes are cultivated with organic and biodynamic farming methods. Founder Can Topsakal focuses on international, red variety grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre.

Barbare’s most important ideology and conviction is “to give back to the soil what it has taken” and as a result, is dedicated to cultivating the choicest grapes and organic farming. To endorse this commitment, Barbare received the hard-won Ecocert certification. Ecocert was established in France in 1991 and is an independent inspection and certification body recognizing and certifying organic farming and has been a benchmark in organic certification worldwide ever since.

Libra

Recently I hosted a wine and chocolate pairing tasting. I needed a Bordeaux blend to pair with the bitter chocolate so I took myself off to La Cave in Cihangir to find one. I had a few ideas in mind but as soon as I saw the Libra label all those ideas flew right out of my head. A Barbare wine I hadn’t yet tried?! How could this be??

It’s rare that I offer a wine at a tasting I haven’t already drunk myself. What if it’s bad? Or worse-what if I’m stumped and can’t provide accurate tasting notes to my group?! With a Barbare though I knew I wouldn’t have to even remotely worry about the first possibility. As for the second…it’s Barbare. I could tell people it smells of unicorns and they’d believe it because it’s that good.

(Because it’s that good. Not because I’m that convincing of a talker).

Libra

Barbare Libra 2012 Tasting Notes:

To begin, the Libra is not a shy wine. At 15% abv it is a big, powerful velvety fist. The nose changes and evolves a lot. Each time I went in for a sniff the Libra revealed new layers. Aromas of blueberries and herbs gave way to earthy tones of leather and tar which softened to reveal the wine’s oak influence. If deep, purple red could be a sensation then that’s how this would feel in the mouth. Luxuriant, velvety tannins wrap themselves around the tongue and linger for a long, rich finish.

This is a limited addition from Barbare with only 20,000 bottles produced.  I really hope that the Libra is part of a planned Zodiac series of wines. If it is; please you beautiful people at Barbare, make the Leo amazing!!

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.

Arcadia Odrysia Narinca 2015

In the spring I attended an Arcadia wine tasting with Murat Mumcoğlu of Şarap Atölyesi. We tried a variety or red and white wines; one of which was the Odrysia Narince 2015. Wine made from Narince is not difficult to find; but finding one as special as the Odrysia is not easy.

Narince is a native Turkish grape. Originally from Tokat in Anatolia it is both a table grape and is used to make wine. “Narince” in Turkish means “delicately” which perfectly describes the wines it makes. Narince wines display sophisticated and elegant fruit flavors and are very ethereal and aromatic. They reveal aromas of orange, grapefruit, lime, white pineapple, quince, plumeria, acaccia, fruit blossom, basil, ripe green apple, and walnut.

In addition, the oh so popular grape leaf dishes in Turkish cuisine are made from Narince leaves. This actually presents an interesting conundrum for wine makers. While Arcadia cultivates its own Narince, not everyone does. Most Narince vineyards in Tokat are owned by independent vignerons. They then sell the grapes to viniculturists and the leaves to people who preserve them for food. The problem is that the leaves mature sooner than the grapes. As a result they’re harvested while the grapes are still maturing and desperately need canopy cover.

Odrysia

Father and daughter team Ozcan and Zeynep Arca established Arcadia Vineyards in 2007 to make and showcase terroir-driven wines from Northern Thrace. From planting the vines to vinifying the grapes, they insist on careful production methods and minimum intervention, so that their wines can express the unique terroir of their beautiful vineyards. Arcadia wines are all made from estate-grown fruit. In 35 hectares of vineyard they grow nine different types of grape: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, Sangiovese, Pinot Gris, Öküzgözü, and Narince.

Odrysia

Arcadia Odrysia Narinca 2015 Tasting Notes:

While Arcadia’s Odrysia is all delicate florals don’t let that fool you! At 13.5% abv this is still a serious white wine. Before bottling Arcadia put the Odrysia through only a limited filtration process. As a result the wine maintained its full aromas. The nose is very floral with perfumed plumeria floating above citrus, mineral, and quince.

Lively mouthwatering acid encourage the flavors to leap off your tongue. Citrus, lemon peel, plumeria, and yellow apple liberally flecked with minerals; like a lemon syllabub graced with a sprinkle of fleur de sal.

Gorgeous. I’ve had quite a few of Arcadia’s wines now and they have never let me down.

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.