As I mentioned in the last post, I was at Chateau Kalpak Vineyards to help out during the Art Festival, and I’m back home for a little break. The festival was wrapped up successfully with the public exhibition on the last day. A group of journalists visited during the festival so there should be an article in a Turkish magazine somewhere, but I’ll also share the atmosphere and some art works by the artists when I return to the winery where my camera still is.
In the meantime, you can have a peek at some of the photos I took, straight from the camera, which have been posted on Facebook.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t blog because WiFi wasn’t available in the studio. Even if there had been WiFi, I wouldn’t have been able to. Because I was crazy busy throughout the one-week long workshop, multitasking around the clock; serving, cooking, photographing, interpreting, and drinking, etc. I also led a winery tour for the first time and it was fun!
The reward was waking up to this beautiful view every morning and sipping wine on the terrace, watching the sunset in the evening, and I felt blessed every day. It’s never too late to live your dream, truly!
Chateau Kalpak …. I first visited this winery in 2015 and was impressed by the wine, which still remains as the best Bordeaux blend in Turkey, and perhaps, one of the best outside Bordeaux, as proven by many medals won at Concours Mondial Bruxelles and the top rating as the best producer in Turkey from AWC Vienna. The fact that I’m doing my internship at the very best winery and by a very methodical, perfectionist, francophile winemaker seems like a rare opportunity, if not a dream.
During my early morning stroll, I witnessed, again and again, how meticulously the vineyards are being managed. His wines are not certified as organic, – in fact, he has no interest in it – however, he does what he thinks is right and takes care of the vines with science. There’s no irrigation, no pesticide, no herbicide, no sulphur, and everything is left to the nature but with a high tech control system in place.
In the winery, where science meets art, all equipment is of the highest quality and, according to Bulent Bey, the owner, there’s no compromise for good quality. He’s planning to change the remaining stainless tanks to oak vats this year.
The barrels are made mostly from very old Hungarian and French oak and steam bent slowly for 48 months and all his wines spend 36 months in barrel before bottling. Each grape variety grown in a different parcel is fermented in barrels of different types and sizes, and you can never predict what and how much of each will be blended till the very end. It’s the artist’s decision and the blending is done by repeated blind tastings. The ultimate aim for the specific barrel choice is to maintain the pure expression of the fruit instead of masking it with aromas from toasted barrels.
If you thought working in a winery was all fancy and glamorous, think again. I look like a mine worker, right? Haaa, now I understand the term ‘cellar rat‘, but I felt more like a monkey, climbing barrel stacks, which I happen to be so good at!
I didn’t expect I’d be cleaning the messes that fermenting wine leaves behind, fruit flies and mold, and rescuing the barrels whose silicon corks fly off due to the pressure from fermentation. But it’s all very exciting!
Smelling and tasting wine at different stages of fermentation and figuring out how it changes, and so on. I got to sample some 2015 Cabernet Franc being fermented in a botti, which was truly delicious. I hope a blend of Cab Franc and Petit Verdot will be made one day.
For my non-Turkish readers, let me explain about this area. It’s called Şarkoy, and not only does it have breathtaking scenery but also, its reputation for producing great wines dates back to the Greek and Roman times. So in and around Sarkoy is the most sought-after site for vineyards. It’s just that the once-dead wine culture is taking a sluggish revival due to the alcohol restrictions introduced by the current government. However, every winemaker is working hard every day, hoping that it will find the ancient glory again one day.
The view from the winery is especially stunning and one never gets tired of it, and I wonder if the vines feed on the view as well.
It’s on high altitude and it’s windy, and it’s so chilly at night I couldn’t stay outside to watch the night sky. All these factors make it possible to extend the vine maturation period for an extra month, hence the concentration of aromas and flavours in grapes.
It also has a big lavender field and Bulent Bey loves using it in tea. Vast sunflower fields add more beauty to Şarkoy in summer along with vineyards and olive trees. I truly treasure this part of Turkey and all the way to Assos, and I hope many people get to experience this natural beauty.
If you are a wine and nature lover, then, you should definitely explore this region following the Thracian Wine Route, whose app can be found online.
You can read more about the wineries on The Guide Istanbul but to relieve you from the long reading, I’ll run you through a brief guide.
If you’re after great white wines, try Arcadia, Chamlija and Vino Dessera. For new world style reds and Rosé, try Chamlija, Chateau Nuzun, Barbare and Suvla, and for old world style reds, try Chateau Kalpak and Gali, which also happen to have the most stunning views.
What you should keep in mind, though, is that the wine route isn’t very well developed ‘yet’, so it’s advised to call the winery prior to the visit and get detailed directions and the road condition. The road leading to the winery can be quite tricky to drive with a normal car and not all wineries have English speaking staff or wine tastings.