It has been almost three weeks since the EWBC 2012 in Izmir, Turkey, long enough to review the photos collection, long enough to get past the “withdrawal syndrome” , and long enough for the wines to settle. I most certainly did not come empty-handed from my first attendance at the European Wine Bloggers Conference. Among memories, notes, photos and souvenirs, I brought with me four bottles of wine from Turkey. Actually, only three of them are Turkish and one Lebanese. Even so, I am most excited by the perspective of experiencing these wines at home, with my familiar environment and glasses, and enough time to enjoy them peacefully and take detailed notes.
This is not to say that I don’t believe in the “wine tastes best in the winery” motto; I actually try as many times as possible to taste the wine in the cellar, or even on the field among the rows of vines -especially these “warm climate” wines, grown on the shores of the Mediterranean. Unfortunately this is rarely possible, so the comfort of my kitchen table, wine glasses and notebook is the next best thing to fully experience an interesting wine.
I have allowed the wines three full weeks to settle after the log and stressful journey through three flights and four airports. I also intended to plan something special for each uncorking -like an interesting meal, or some friends visiting- but I ended up (as on other many occasions) simply opening up the bottle and leaving it to breathe outside for an hour or so, while I sniffed every five minutes a small sample in my big tasting glass. The outer temperatures in Northern Romania are cool enough this time of the year so that the wine is properly chilled by simply leaving the bottle on the balcony for a while (no need for refrigerator), and also the warm and spicy flavors of the Aegean sun are a nice fit with the winter season.
So the first bottle I picked up from the rack was Vourla 2010, a blend of four red grapes coming fro the Turkish winery Urla. About
this stunning winery, the vistas and the spectacular wines I have already mentioned in the article about the day trip to the Turkish wineries. I have tasted this wine during the famed visit to the Urla Winery. It was not the most complex, nor the most fruity or developed, but it has an interesting pungency that stuck to my mind, so I bought a bottle to take home.
The name “Vourla” is actually an old name of the Urla town, probably having some Greek resonance, and this wine is a tribute to the people who used to live and work those lands. The slightly tapered bottle has an interesting label, an interpretation of a fingerprint in warm mediterranean colours: terra cotta and azure. The 2010 blend contains four grapes, both local and international: Bogazkere, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a mixture that I have never met, especially with Bogazkere playing the main role in the cepage (it is a grape notorious for the bitter tannins, dark color and high alcohol content). I have noticed this trend, of bold blends of Turkish and international varieties, and I think it can really reveal some new sides and flavors of the original grapes. This particular vintage has just been released on the market; the 2009 being a success, but with different grape proportions.
The wine has a deep burgundy color with thin purple veins, and leaves thick legs slowly creeping down the glass. The nose is pungent and flavorful, developing nicely as it warms up in the glass. The fruitier notes emerge first -black cherry, blackcurrant and prunes- followed by heavier roasted coffee, licorice and cocoa butter. Hours after opening, an interesting change occurs, with much livelier aromas emerging -ginger, cinnamon and sour cherries. It displays an elegant but somewhat heavy body, with the notes lingering a bit too much on the palate. The consistency is firm and textured, perhaps a bit rigid from the oaky flavors, although the acidity levels keep it vibrant. The fruits blend nicely with the ripe tannins and make a nice transition from the nose toward the aftertaste.
It is a wine build like a Land Rover -you know what to expect, and you know you can trust it on any terrain, yet you just can’t show up at the cocktail party driving it. I indulge in this style of wine from time to time, like a guilty pleasure, like wearing a rugged favorite pair of jeans. It is ironic -or perhaps not at all so- that the winemaker is a charming young lady, one of the youngest and prettiest winemakers I have ever met.
Although there are quite a few dished that would pair well with this wine, I would keep things simple and throw on a plate bits and pieces of hard cheeses, cured ham and black olives, and focus on refilling the glass repeatedly.