Thursday, December 30, 2010

House Wine = Home made wine?

Kitchenette Narince 2008

I had a lovely dinner with friends that I have not seen for ages at Kitchenette. I did not choose the wine but I supported the choice only because the expression "house wine" was included in the name of the wine: Kitchenette House Wine Narince (2008). Not that I know what it means, it is only due to curiosity!

I certainly was not expecting something similar to the one in Bozcaada, a wine served in a plastic bottle that was originally a water bottle of a well known brand (it was a very delicious wine by the way). That would be inappropriate considering the fancy concept of the restaurant. Nevertheless, I expected something like boutique style production at least. At the end, it appeared that I was quite unfamiliar to Kitchenette's concept. I captured the point only when I saw this sentence by Doluca (major wine producer in Turkey) on the bottle: "Produced in our facilities in Mürefte-Tekirdağ".

Kitchenette Narince 2008

The wine was fine. It was a refreshing white wine with flawory and fruity aroma. I understand the bitter feeling of high acidity which I encounter in most of the white wines is not very strong in wines made of Narince (a generalization computed from one exapmle only!).

So tell me, what does House Wine means at the end? Please enlighten me, because for some reason I did not remember to ask the waiter!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How old should your wine be?

How do you know the best time to open a wine bottle? If you have read my previous post about this subject, you would remember that many of the wines in the market are produced to be consumed when they are rather young. However, this is not true for all wines of course.

We can have a brain storming here togehter, but don't ask me to to tell my experiences on this subject, because I do not have any. I have never kept a wine at my home for more than a few months. Since I don't have a wine cooler refrigerator at home, I don't think that I can preserve wines in proper conditions for years. You may read about the proper conditions here.

Let's start with the information that is disclosed by the producer. You may see a year in the front side of the bottle. This is the year of the grape's harvest. It can also be mentioned  how long the wine has been kept in oak barrels or steal tanks or when it was bottled. These information may not be sufficient to judge when to drink the wine as there is not any general rule telling us how long to wait after bottling or production.

If I'd like to buy a wine that is young, but I doubt it would be wise to open it immediately; or, if I'd like to buy a wine that has been produced years ago, I look carefully on the bottle to see something like "this wine can be consumed best by ..." If we have not passed the year .... yet, and if I am confident that the wine has been maintained in proper conditions, I buy the wine. Actually, I have never seen someone selling a wine that should have been  drunk years ago. I guess we find such wines only in forgotten spots of our own houses.

Sometimes, there are no information on the bottle at all. Previously, I would evaluate this as a sign for drinking immediately, but I saw that this turned wrong recently for more than once. Based on my limited experience, I can tell you that French wines' bottles do not provide you with much information on the wine. They do not even need to mention the grapes from which the wine is made of, let alone the best year to drink it or the best food to match with. These wines can be produced with a potential to age for years.

In such hopeless situations, I try to ask someone in the shop to give information. As a last resort, I google it! I write the name of the wine and read the information which appears reliable to me. If still no usefull information, I try to guess :) I have to admit that I usually can not wait so long to open a wine bottle since I am curious about it.

I can summarize the basis of my guesses as follows: Producers generally use fancy expressions to indicate that the wine has a certain quality, so it is woth to age it. Those expressions include "premium", "special collection", "reserve" etc. If you find out that you have such sort of wine at home that is a few years old already, do not panic! It is very likely that it is still in good conditions.

Besides, it is known that a wine with relatively higher acidity and stronger tannins can be aged for more years compared to others. So, you may consider that a Cabarnet Sauvignon has more potential to age than a Merlot, and a Merlot has more potential than Chardonnay in that sense. However, you should not overlook the fact that the quality of the grape and the stages of the production process may affect the potential of a wine for aging. You see that this last sentence proves that all my brainsrorming conversation here is useless :)

If you believe you learned something from this post, I suggest you better buy wines to drink young and enjoy them. Let's drink younger wines. There is a lot to learn until we can age our wines.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Kutman Özel Kav Papazkarası 1994

Kutman Özel Kav Papazkarası 1994

I mentioned this wine previously here with admiration, when I was very inexperienced in wine tasting.  I tasted it once more, recently. This time, before I wrote this posted, I looked at Kutman's website and I was literally enlightened with what I saw there.

This wine is made of a grape called Papazkarası, which is described there as Turkish version of Pinot Noir. I understand from this that there is a serious similarity between these two grapes either in terms of genetic or at least in terms of taste. You may read this to understand how important is Pinot Noir for me.

When it comes to tasting notes, I have to admit that I believe the wine glass has a big impact on the taste of the wine and the sense on the palate. As I had to drink the wine from a tiny glass, I could not smell anything and could not enjoy the aromas in it. I guess I drink wine not only with my mouth, but also with my nose.

Despite the improper circumstances, I could not even notice how fast the first glass of this silky wine was gone. I noticed that I did not sense any fruity or flawory aromas in this wine. This may be due to the small glass, but anyway it is not a negative thing for me. It is a delicious and balanced (neither acidity nor tannins are too much) wine at the end.

My sole negative thought was that this wine had a stronger and more intense taste when I tasted it almost a year ago. Considering how new was wine drinking to me then, this thought does not deserve much attention.

I did not buy this wine, but I know it is possible to order it online following the above link. I had to chance to drink it as a friend of mine brought it to us. Thanks for her kindness for the second time :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Kayra Vintage by the glass

Kayra has a collection called Vintage. This collection's wines are described as "Kayra's collection serial" on their website. I have one of them at home, but have not tasted it yet. I bought it once upon a time, when I had no idea about Kayra Vintage. I bought it for a special occasion, because the bottle's design reveals that this wine is special. Anyway, we drank another wine at that special occasion and this one is still waiting to be tasted.

I'd like to share an announcement about this collection of wines. There will be a special campaign between 17-31 December in certain restaurants in Istanbul. You will be able to order the wines of this collection by the glass in those restaurants. I doubt that you may normally have the chance to order any of these wines by the glass. That's why I think it may be worth the take this chance.

The wines that you may order during this campaign are: Kayra Vintage Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Kayra Vintage Merlot 2008, Kayra Vintage Boğazkere 2008, Kayra Vintage Shiraz 2009, Kayra Vintage Öküzgözü 2007 single vineyard, and Kayra Vintage Chardonnay 2009.

The places where you can order these wines: El Besso, Fratelli la Bufala, Park Şamdan, Urza, Zazie, Nusr-et, Obika, Midpoint, Beymen Brasserie, Mavi Balık, Happily Ever After, Oben Şarap Evi, Lacivert, Bistro 33, CKM Hayal Kahvesi, Antochia, Smyrna, Kahvedan, Susam, Develi Restoran Levent, Develi Restoran Samatya, Pano Şarap Evi.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Turasan Bogazkere 2006

Turasan Bogazkere 2006
I already knew that Boğazkere can make great wines by itself. Turasan Bogazkere 2006 was an additional proof for me.

The burgundy color still has a certain brightness, but there was a little sediments in the bottle. Since I did not think of dekanting the wine before I drank it, I had sediments in my last glass.

Despite the strong tannins that emphasize the existence of Bogazkere, this can be considered as an easy to drink wine. I was actually expecting stronger tannins and more permanent flavor on the palate, but it is still fine. In fact, better than what I was expecting. It attracted me mostly with its black pepper aromas in the nose.  If you are also one of those who can enjoy the tannins of Bogazkere wines, I believe you would not regret to give a chance to  Turasan Bogazkere.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Kavaklıdere Kalecik Karası Syrah 2009

Kavaklıdere, Kalecik Karası Syrah 2009
We opened this bottle of Kavaklıdere Kalecik Karası Syrah 2009 to add joy to an ordinary dinner at home. It has a lively burgundy color, red fruity (cheery mostly) and spicy aromeas, soft tannins and moderate acidity. These all make it a light and almost sweet tasting wine. It does not stay long on the palate, but this does not prevent it from having a lovely ending. This was a good choice for our end.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Illusion of Aged Wine

This post may depress you if you believe that a wine definetely gets better as it rests in the bottle for years.  In fact, not all of the wines in the market are suitable for aging.  Besides, buying a bottled wine and not opening it for years does not mean aging a wine. If you have a wine that has a potential for aging, you may of course trey to age it at home, but this would not be so easy.

It is useful to know the conditions required for maintanence of wine at home. Since it has not been a long time since a began to buy and to drink wine, I remember how useful it was to me. I do not have a wine cooler yet (I hope I will get it as a gift one day :) ) and therefore, I do not age wines for years (for now), but it is still usefull to know the best conditions for the wine even if you keep it only for a few months.

One of the necessary conditions is dark surroundings, which means that you should keep away from wines that are displayed in the extremely highlighted display of a store. If you buy wine in Bozcaada, you should avoid leaving it at the back seat of the car under the sun.

Another point to consider is to keep wine away from vibration (may be due to loud voice) or shake. You may not have any alternative other than carying the wine bottles in your car (which will more or less shake them), but you may at least remember to take them out of the car and to not carry them with you to work and home for weeks.

It is also very important to lay the bottle horizontally, but I notice that most of the stores do not pay attention to this. It is probably because they sell all the wines in a short period so that none of stays there more than a few weeks. The cork must stay wet and must prevent air leakage. Remember that the cork actually has a shelf life as well and may get moldy sometimes.

In addition to that, wine bottles should be maintainted in an environment with humidity of 70% and with a steady temperature of 10 - 18 degrees (C). I do not know much about humidity but I think a normal home may have it around 70%. When it comes to temperature, I can say that it is never below 20 degrees in a regular apartment in Istanbul. Considering that it reachs around 35 degrees in summer and 25 degrees in winter in apartments with central heating, It appears to me that it is difficult to maintain the necessary temperature.

In short, if you can not maintain the optimum conditions, it is the easiest way for you to buy wines to be consumed rather young. If you buy your wine from supermarkt or grocery shop, you probably end up with such young wines anyway. Most of the producers in Turkey put explanation on how long to age the wine on the bottle. Paying attention to them would make it easier for you.

If you have a wine which needs to be aged and if you do not have a wine refrigerator to maintain the best conditions, giving the wine to someone as present may be a good choice :) If you insist to keep it, you may try to keep it in a dark corner of you home. You may try to close down the heating in that room. This brings you to the question of when to drink it. Since I have not any experience with a wine kept at home for more than a few months, I will leave you alone with this question at this point.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chateau Prieure-Lichine 2007

Chateau Prieure-Lichine 2007, Margaux
This is the second Grand Cru Classe wine that I've ever tasted. I did not buy any of them, the first was offered to me during a dinner that I was invited, and the second was given as a gift when I invited the same person to dinner. Therefore, I do not know where to buy or for how much to buy.

I tried to collect information through googling as usual, but since their website appears to be under construction, I could only rely on information from third persons. Chateau Prieure-Lichine is a producer in Margaux, which is a significant place in wine production in Bordeaux, France. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc is produced in the vineyards of Chateau Prieure-Lichine and used in their wines, as far as I understand.  I understand that the biggest share of the blend belongs to Cabernet Sauvignon. It is followed by Merlot, and then by Cabarnet Franc and Petit Verdot.

I did not have the chance to decant the wine since we were about to start eating for dinner when the wine arrived. I desperately tried to concentrate on the change in the flavors of the wine as long as it stayed in my glass, but I lost my attention eventually.

It is a wine with burgundy color and a little fruity aromas. I believe I have not experienced this much difficulties before in identifying the aromas in a wine. After having tasted this wine, I think I understand what is meant with "minaral flavor". Without digging further, I can say that the wine goes through one's throat as soft as velvet, but also stays on the palate with a very nice flavor.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Diren Collection Merlot 2008

Diren Collection Merlot 2008
I did something that I rarely do. On my way to home, I bought tortellini of my favorite brand and I picked up a wine for myself from the box I received from I decided that if this was going to be a lonely evening, I should enjoy my lonelyness. I would not feel guiltiness when I could't finish the bottle since I had my wine saver now. I took my first sip of Diren Collection Merlot 2008 while tortellini was still getting boiled.

I noticed how tranlucent the wine's color was. Although it was a dark red color, I could see the things behind the wine in the glass. When I smelled the wine, I noticed red fruity, oaky and spicy aromas, which made me very happy. It has a nice, delicious permanence on the palate. I admit that this wine appears to be beyond my expactation. I would buy it once more without hesitation. The price is very convenient. In fact, I believe I am going to taste other wines of Diren soon.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Book: Essential Winetasting

Essential Winetasting, Michael Schuster
I placed my first order on a few weeks ago. I believe amazon ships only books & dvd's to Turkey and since shipping costs are relatively high, I did not consider to buy anything from before. This time I bought two books about wine. For those who would like to have an idea, the books costed $ 32,10 and I also paid $ 11,97 for shipping. The books arrived in good order in a carton box, four weeks after I ordered them.

Since I did not have the chance to look into both of them as I wished, I will write about only one of them today. This one is Essential Winetasting, written by Michael Schuster. I don't find the outside appearance of the book especially attracting, but the name and content of the book was promising especially in the area of tasting rather than wine production. That's why I bought it. When the book arrived, I saw that the quality of paper and pictures of the book are much better than I expected from the cover's outlook.

Essential Winetasting, Michael Schuster

In the first sections, the author talks about the details of wine tasting along with pictures and term descriptions. Following sections go into details of different types of grapes and the differences that appear in the characteristics of the same grape in different terroirs. While doing this, the author mentions some of the wines of the mentioned area and of the mentioned grape, and he also makes comparisons between them. I'm currently reading the section about the wines of red grapes. Although it is interesting to me to read about differences between the wines of the same grape arising due to different terroirs, at some point it is impossible for me to follow the names of countless terroirs and wines.

I believe that this is a good book for those who are interested in wine tasting and who want to read something about it. If English is not your native language, it takes a little time until you learn the english terminology of wine tasting at the beginning. Since I like learning the word choices made to describe certain attributes in a foreign language, it is an interesting reading for me.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wine Stopper

Wine Stopper
I bought this wine stopper a few weeks ago, but I just had a chance to use it. The wine bottles are too big for me. Since I usually drink only 1 or 2 glasses of wine, I can not consume the whole bottle even if I'm not alone. It makes me sad if I have to pour it out after a few days since it becomes impossible to drink.

It's not a good solution to put the cork back to its place, since it is difficult to put it back once it is out. If you turn inside out, it may give the wine its smell of cork and besides, small pieces of cork may fall into the wine. I did these by now and each time the wine's taste was worsened and aromas were gone.

I bought this simple stopper from Sensus in Galata at 10 TL (if I remember it correctly). Once you put it at the top of the bottle, you turn the metal part downward and the rubber part inside the bottle gets thicker so that no air can come in or out.

I drank Turasan Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Shiraz 2008 from a bottle which I closed with this stopper. I tasted it for three times, once for each evening after I opened it. Although it got a little lighter in the third evening, the strong blackberry and black pepper aromas were still there. I wrote my tasting notes about Turasan Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Shiraz 2008 before (when I tasted it for the first time). I can say once more that it is a very delicious wine with its strong but not disturbing tannins and its moderate body.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Talay Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Talay, Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

We tasted (and drank it all) Talay Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (ordered from a few days ago together with my friends. One of my two friends said that she normally likes only white wines, and the other one said it would matter to her which wine I choose. I tried to make a choice taking their and my husband's preferences into account. Well, after having chosen this one, I don't feel very succesfull. I think it would be better if I had chosen a lighter, easear to drink wine.

Talay is a producer in Bozcaada. They have their own vinery there. I do not recall that I tasted their wine when I was there, but I remember that local wines of Bozcaada had intense fruity aromas, bitter tannins and high acidity (too much for me). I thought that these characteristics come from the grapes, of which the wines that I've tasted were made of, but now I believe these may be the characteristics of the terroir of Bozcaada.

When I smelled the wine once I opened it, I was a little worried at first. It had a so sharp smell that I needed to check the cork if it seemed all right. After the wine rested in the wine glass for a few minutes, it started to show its beauty. It became a fresh and fruity wine as it got aired. I think the level of alcohol is relatively high. Unfortunately, the wine does not leave a flavor on the palate for more than a few seconds. It was still a good company with our conversation at that night. In fact, it did not take a long time until the bottle was empty and we had to make a new choice of wine.