Cuvinte despre vinuri incercate, degustari si evenimente, calatorii si retete
First of all, a happy new year for all wine passionates out there, and may your corkscrew never rest for more than one day! I am very excited to start the 2013 wine blogging journey with an article in English, and even more so because this blog post features two very exciting Turkish wines. Instead of writing about the New Years Eve party, sparkling wines or interminable dinners, I hope that this international-themed post will bring another year of travelling and experiencing fantastic wines from all corners of the world.
So I have chosen to dedicate the very first article of 2013 to Turkish wines as a metaphor for the rising Turkish wine industry, which I will keep a close eye onto from now on. During the four days I have spent last year in Izmir at the EWBC, I have discovered a world of amazing wines just sitting „around the corner” (here is a great slideshow by Joel Butle MW on Turkish varieties), and I have brought some of them back home to enjoy them in the comfort of my kitchen. I have already covered two of them –Vourla from Urla Winery and Domaine des Tourelles from Lebanon– so with this last couple of bottles I exhaust my supply, and start dreaming of the next opportunity to get my hands on some Narince or Mizket.
Doluca Winery is probably the second largest wine producer from Turkey, after the giant
conglomerate Kavaklidere. Started as a small family business in 1926, it grew gradually, acquiring more properties in the best wine regions across Turkey and experimenting with several grape varieties, becoming in recent years quite well known for their contemporary approach to traditional varieties. They display somewhere around 40 labels, the Tugra line being positioned somewhere in the middle of the range.
Kalecik Karasi sounds fierce by name, but its actually a very smooth and light grape, rendering fruity and easy-drinking wines, and occasionally some more complex and ripe. Originally from Ankara region, it is now widely cultivated in almost all regions of Turkey and each region leaves its mark of the flavors and textures of the wine. Some even compare it to Pinot Noir, due to its light red color fruity notes with discreet taninns, great variability across regions, and the occasional deep and complex wine suitable for ageing.
My bottle of Tugra Kalecik Karasi 2011 from Doluca winery contains actually a blend of Kalecik Karasi graped from two wine regions -Ankara and Denizli- a practice which is quite common for the big Turkish producers, in order to achieve more smoothness and complexity. The color is a bit darker than expected -a cherry red with some purple hints, still bright and with good transparency. Delicate notes of ripe strawberries and sour cherries are blended in the nose with hints of charcoal and fine leather; in the mouth it has the expected light and smooth texture, getting even more silky as it warms up in the glass. Some very fine earthy notes also emerge in the mouth -pottery clay and wet stone, and the medium acidity brings a refreshing finish. Still the wine is definitely fruity and lively, I don’t see it as improving much more if it’s left another year in the bottle.
If the Kalecik Karasi is easy to understand, love and drink, the blend of Okuzgozu and Bogazkere from Vinkara Winery is quite the opposite, a wine for wine enthusiasts, who are ready to sacrifice a taste bud or two to distinguish that quirky flavor. These are both traditional stronger varieties, with distinctive flavors, pungent notes and firm tannins, and Vinkara Winery is one of the producers that is almost completely focused on local grapes. They are one of the newest wine producers in Turkey, yet in less than 10 year managed to develop a complete range of products with distinctive „paper-like” labels, featuring the most important Turkish local grapes as well as a few international ones.
Straight after opening the bottle, even if the wine is slightly cooler than usual, the distinctive flavor of this wine fills the glass and the air around it: it is a spicy blend of dried figs, lavender, blackberry jam and a heavy note that I can only associate to engine oil! Far from being repulsive, this heavy oily aroma actually fits nicely, bringing more minerality and texture. In the mouth the wine has plenty of pungency, attacking the taste buds and gums with grippy tannins and flavors of coriander, curry powder and anchovies, among the more regular blackberry and figs. The texture is coarse,
like having bits of sand on the tongue, yet the aftertaste is smooth, turning towards licorice and cocoa. And yes, as the name suggests (bogazkere=”throat burner”), it has a burning felleing on the inside of the cheeks, and not due to the alcohol level.
All in all, it is a wine for the adventurous, for those seeking a different lineup of flavors than the usual cherry-plum-wood-coffee. It’s a challenge to find a suitable dish to pair with this wine, but I would go to fight fire with fire and match it with cured spicy sausages or blue Danish cheese.
Unfortunately, I only had red Turkish wines to this small series of articles, but I hope I’ll get soon my hands on some Emir, Narince or Mizket.
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The above wines show very clearly that we entered the era of Turkish Wine Renaissance! Cheers to that!