Tag Archives: Urla

Late Harvest Urla Symposium 2015

Many people I know are turned off by the term: late harvest. “I don’t like dessert wine.” “It’s too sweet.” For many ‘late harvest’ means a wine that is syrupy sweet; but it doesn’t have to mean that at all. Late harvest wines can be super sweet, dry, and everything in between.

The late harvest Misket Urla Symposium is an excellent example. It is not a dessert wine but a lovely, light, semi-sweet. So if late harvest doesn’t automatically mean sweet wine; what does it mean?

Late harvest grapes are just that. They are grapes that have been left on the vine longer than a typical harvest (an additional one to two months). When grapes are left to hang like this they slowly begin to raisin. A concentrated “raisined” grape contains lower amounts of water and higher amounts of sugar. The resulting juices are therefore super concentrated in both sugar and flavor.

The must from late harvest grapes is then vinified. While this usually results in sweet wines, notably German Riesling and French Sauternes; it doesn’t have to be. Late harvest wines can be vinified completely dry. Wines made in this style will often be fuller in body and more intensely flavored than they would be had grapes been picked at the usual harvest time.

Now that the lesson in late harvest wines is over that leaves the question: where does the Urla Symposium fit? Somewhere in the middle but definitely on the sweet side of the fence.

Urla Symposium

Late Harvest Urla Symposium 2015 Tasting Notes:

The Urla Symposium is a late harvest Borovina Misket. Its pale color and relatively low alcohol (11.5% abv) provide the first indication of the wine’s overall elegance. The nose was what I’ve come to expect from Misket; but more so.  Intense honey and orange blossom saved from being overly sweet by an underlying zing of lively citrus.

The palate was restrained; like fragile, perfumed gossamer. Orange blossom, honey, and lemon curd gracefully twine just enough acid to keep the wine from tipping over the syrupy saccharine line. Sweet for certain and slightly thicker than standard Misket. A perfect sweet wine for those who like

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!!

The 2014 Urla Tempus

I’ve been eyeing this 2014 Urla Tempus wine for a while but it’s 195 TL at Solera and I have a hard time coughing up that much for anything. However I have found it both at the Savoy tobacco shop in Cihangir and at Macro Center for 125 TL – far more reasonable in my opinion!

Urla Tempus
The Urla Tempus is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc and has a fairly whopping 15% APV. It’s a double gold winner in the US and fully deserves to be. In the glass the dark ruby red wine smelled velvety and deep. The nose was all black cherries, dark chocolate, and mocha which echo in the palate with beautiful velvety tannins and a long finish. A really long finish.

Urla Tempus

I have a stockpile of draft reviews to post which includes excellent wines, good wines, okay wines, and bad wines-but very few truly remarkable wines. The Urla Tempus was one of them; so much so that I made it the static picture for my website. It definitely falls in the ‘dangerously drinkable’ category and could easily hold its own against quality European wines. I already want another bottle.

Urla Tempus

This one is really gorgeous and fully worth the 125 TL price tag. M says it’s okay to pay to spend 125 TL on a special occasion wine but not on an every day wine-this is where our wine philosophies diverge. To me any day you open a wine this beautiful is a special occasion!

Urla Vourla

The 2011 Urla Vourla

Urla is a new winery to me, I haven’t noticed this one before so when I saw the 2011 Urla Vourla at Comedus (59TL) I had to get it. I’m always on the lookout for a new wine maker here.

A nice solid red color gave way to a truly lovely nose filled with dark fruits and berries.

In the mouth this blend of Boğazkere, Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon was pretty bold. The Vourla has a large, dense flavor supported by velvety tannins followed by a long finish. The one slightly off note to the body was that it was oddly thick. Which was really rather off-putting.

On the attack the Urla Vourla was like a mouth full of berries, big, fruity, and a little jammy which is something to which I never object. However…there always has to be a however…the finish is clearly alcoholic. Both M and I really liked the wine overall, as long as we swallowed quickly. The longer we held it in our mouths the more obvious the burn.

The Urla Winery is named after the region where the vineyards are located (in Urla in case that wasn’t obvious). Apparently I’ve really missed out by not visiting, it looks like it’s gorgeous. They produce quite a few wines that all look very intriguing; intriguing and, aside from the Vourla, expensive. These are wines that I’ll have to think about before I buy; although I’m fairly certain that they’ll be worth the sticker shock.

Urla Nexus

The 2011 Urla Nexus

I recently was able to entertain some family members here in Istanbul. Two of my double second cousins* were in town. I have a rather large family. Really rather large. My dad is one of eight and all but one of his siblings have children. My mom is one of 12 and nine of them have children. My siblings and I are all at the younger end of the cousins so we have several cousins (on daddy’s side) who are already grandparents themselves. So I have a hard enough time remembering all my first cousin’s…I’ve kind of given up on remembering my second cousins and their kids.

I knew I’d met her mom before but Sara and I couldn’t remember if we’d actually met or not.The first night I saw them here we had this moment where we both said, but you do look familiar so we must have met…and then realized that we both just look so much like the family, ergo each other.

I had them over one evening to admire the view from my terrace and to enjoy a glass of a good Turkish wine. My desire to make sure they had a really good wine backfired on me a little though! I chose the bottle of Urla Nexus that I picked up at Solera for a wee fortune of 105TL (140TL in the restaurant but Solera gives a 25% discount if you’re buying wine to go). The backfire was not that it wasn’t good-because the Urla Nexus is AMAZING. So much better than the Urla Vourla I had a while ago. However I realized when I read the fine print on the bottle that the Urla Nexus is a blend of Merlot, Nero d’Avola, and Cabernet Franc…not one domestic Turkish grape in the bottle!

I might have developed a slightly skewed belief about how much one should (have to) pay for good wine since moving here…but I can confidently say that the Urla Nexus 2011 is worth every penny. The one little fly in my wine was that I had a rather severe cold so I had a hard time picking out flavors. Cherries? Maybe? So really this post is a bit on the pointless side unless you’re ok with a simple “holy crap this wine is outstanding and you should get it” take away.


The cold did not stop me from enjoying the beautiful tannins. Powerful and velvety tannins coat the tongue and provide a strong backbone for this big and full-bodied red. I mean, when you’re drinking this, you know you are drinking a red wine. It’s gorgeous. 105TL is a little bit of a scary price to start dropping on the regular, especially when you only work part-time like I do. Full-time drinking and part-time working do not always go together well.

Adding to the experience of a truly fantastic wine was a great time spent with my cousins. Sara, who was here for a gig with a new Turkish band Barista, will hopefully be coming back for more gigs. Barista’s debut at Babylon seems to have been pretty well received by both those of us in attendance and the media. So cheers to the Urla Nexus 2011, my cousin Sara, and Barista! May I see more of all of them!

*Double cousins really is a thing. It happens when two siblings marry two other siblings…although preferably they’re not all one another’s siblings. This has happened twice in my family. My grandmother and her sister married brothers making the resulting cousins doubly related. A few generations later my two favorite cousins also married brothers.