I was unaware of the existence of Trajan wines until I saw the Trajan Rezerv Kalecik Karası at the Cihangir Suvla shop and bought it on recommendation. Now I am a Trajan fan. And who could not be with its background?
Before we get to Trajan wines though we have to start with the Kalecik Karası grape. Kalecik Karası is a native Turkish varietal. Originally from the Central Anatolian district of Kalecik (Kalecik Karası literally means ‘black from Kalecik) it is now one of three most common native varieties found in Turkish wine (along with Boğazkere and Öküzgözü). However even as early as the 1950s this grape was nearly extinct due to an influx of phylloxera.
Enter Professor Dr. Y. Sabit Ağaoğlu. After completing his doctoral studies on Kalecik Karası; he consulted with the Ankara University Agriculture Faculty in the early 1970s. With his assistance and with the corporation of Prof. Nail Orman’s ‘Clone Selection Project’; new studies were conducted and clones developed that would literally sew the seeds of the grape’s return. In 1992, Dr. Ağaoğlu helped found Kalecik Viticulture Research Station (KALEBAĞ) as a branch of Ankara University’s Agriculture Faculty to focus on enhancing Kalecik Karası viticulture.
In addition to his academic work, Dr. Ağaoğlu and his wife Gülcihan founded a small vineyard of their own. Christened Tomurcukbağ after their daughter Tomurcuk, the vineyard consists of 10 acres in Kalecik in the micro climatic region of Kızılırmak River.
All the wines they produce under their Trajan label are vinified using traditional techniques including spontaneous fermentation with wild yeasts and without any enzymes or other additives. The Trajan Rezerv wines are vinified entirely from run off juice leaving the pressed juice for the standard Trajan wines.
Tomurcukbağ Trajan Rezerv Kalecik Karası 2011 Tasting Notes:
Pale, medium intense brick-garnet in the glass. The nose is fantastic. Lots of red fruits, raspberry, smoke, a little dried meat, and earthy mushrooms. On the palate it is ever so slightly effervescent. Tannins are low as I would expect from this varietal and the acid is a bit of a smack in the mouth. And I mean that in the best way possible. The flavors are intense and full of meat, smoke, and cedar with the juicy tang of fruit.
This is possibly the most interesting Kalecik Karası wine I have had. I’m not sure if it’s good that I started with the reserve wine and will now work my way “down” so to speak; but I look forward to trying more wines by Tomurcukbağ.