Beside repeated barrel tastings at the winery, there are some exciting official wine tastings lined up this year, and I’ll share them as they happen.
First, let’s start with Sommeliers’ Selection Turkey 2018 I attended a week ago. The event, organised by Gustobar, was held in The Marmara Taksim and there were about 200 wines by 50 Turkish producers.
It’s been a while since I last bought any Turkish wines, which had drifted away naturally in the course of time. So I was delighted at the chance to reconnect with them.
I went to only the Sunday tasting and masterclass, and I’ll share my observations with you. Let’s start with ‘Walk Around Tasting‘.
#1, Open Your Wine Horizons
And feed your curiosity. The rule number one is always first try the wines you haven’t tried before. I don’t normally drink white wines so tasting events are a good opportunity to try them.
My first sip was Sevilen Isabey, which had been raved by many people. It was indeed a delicious and lively white, similar in style to NZ Sauvignon Blanc.
Fume Blanc usually gives me a wince; however, I made tentative tastings and found Sevilen 900 decent, not overpowered by oakiness.
I was glad to finally try some of the wines by Likya Winery. I’d always had my doubts about the winery due to my assumption about its hot climate location. Prejudice is bad, I know. Apparently, their vineyards are located at 1000 m!
They produce various lines of wine from many indigenous and international varieties, and the ones I tried, Merzifon Karasi(aka. Marzemino in Italian) and Malbec were good.
Then, I lost control and ended up tasting more Malbec at the same table. Well, it happens but as long as you get yourself back on focus.
The pressure to find good wines can sometimes overshadow the chance of finding some interesting wines. So don’t forget to try some random wines between tastings. You might come across interesting finds, such as Barburi by Antioche. It was my first time coming across the wine hailing all the way from Antakya.
#2, Find Hidden Gems
I believe in the potential of Turkish white varieties so I look out for interesting styles. Urla Hypnose 2016 took me by surprise. So surprised that I had to slip the bottle and read for more information. It had lots of flavours and well-balanced with a lengthy finish with a citrusy grip.
It’s made from Narince and Beyazkere, which is said to be a white-berried mutation of a red variety, Bogazkere. Rebellious white grapes amongst red grapes and only 3000 bottles produced!
Probably, the biggest surprise for me was USCA Winery, which had escaped my radar in all those years.
Viogner, yeah! Sonnet 99 2016, Viogner Chardonnay, was expressive, and elegantly delicious.
For reds, Sonnet 76 Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot 2014 was VERY aromatic on the nose, and had rich and complex flavours, silky tannins and an elegant finish.
I wasn’t surprised that both wines were chosen for the masterclass.
P.S. People you are with won’t always have the same opinion on certain wines but don’t let it affect your tastings.
#3, Take A Break
I know you want to taste as much as you can but your palate gets tired, and the more you try, the less you will remember at the end of the day.
There was amazing artisan read, Urban Bread, which uses a 86 year-old starter, and some Dutch cheeses. I’m not saying Frico cheese is bad, but the options were limited and honestly I was disappointed not to see any French cheese.
But I got to taste the pomegranate extract by Punica Sadece Nar, which I’d had my eye on for some time. It was very different to other pomegranate syrup out there and was delicious on hummus. YUM! Find out why on their website.
#4, Say Hello to Your Old Favourites
I was nice to taste the wines I used to drink in the early years in Turkey, including LA Wines(Lucien Arkas) and Urlice Winery. Their Consensus was still as rich, powerful and delicious as I’d remembered.
Trying their wines brought back some of my fond memories of dining and wining with dear friends. I’d wondered about Pasaeli but sadly I didn’t see their wines at the event. Neither the Pammukale Winery.
Amid the madness of swirling and spitting, I got to say hello to some of my favourite producers such as Chamlija, Chateau Nuzun, Arda and Küp, which was nice.
#5, Treat Yourself!
Of course, I didn’t miss the chance to have a sip of some prestigious wines. I didn’t take photos of all because they are already so famous. I thought Nif Winery’s Reserve Shiraz was delicious.
However, I was quite disappointed by the foreign wine offerings, which I thought were a bit weak. Not that the wines were bad, but somehow a photo of Australian wines on the organiser’s Instagram I saw the previous day gave me false expectations. I was so looking forward to tasting Australian wines!
After taking a half hour coffee break to refresh my palate, I headed upstairs for the masterclass and saw familiar faces, which I hadn’t noticed in the tasting hall. So focused on wines!
The class was conducted by İsa Bal MS, who was awarded the Best Sommelier in Europe in 2008 and Frank Kämmer MS, a member of the board of directors of the UK Court of Master Sommeliers.
English was spoken mostly, thankfully, but a simultaneous interpretation device was there for extra assistance.
15 wines, selected from their blind tastings earlier that day, were revealed one by one, as the two Master Sommeliers shared their tasting notes and opinions.Some producers also gave further information on their vineyards and vinification.
I was happy that some of the wines I’d liked were selected and now I wonder what happened with the list of 3 best wines they collected from us.
Anyway, it was a good experience overall and I could finally relax and start drinking the remaining wines. When we headed back to the tasting hall, the wines were still there so everyone helped themselves with their favourites of the day. I’d had just about enough of wine and desperately craved for juice steak .
Up coming next are the final story on my internship at Chateau Kalpak and delicious winter recipes including homemade duck confit, brussel sprout kimchi and more . So please stick around!