Sunday, October 8, 2017

Turkish delights - Wines of Vinkara

The wines of Turkey are unknown to most Americans, so I eagerly jumped at the opportunity to try them at a recent media dinner in New York City.  There I had the pleasure of meeting Ardic Gursel.  Ardic is the founder of Vinkara Winery, which is located an hour outside of the country's capital of Ankara on property owned by her family.   

Ardic is committed to promoting the indigenous grapes of Anatolia, which is the historic name for the country we call Turkey today.  One of the exciting aspects of her family's efforts is that this land is believed to believed to be the birthplace of wine, and it certainly is one of the world's oldest wine-producing regions.

On this evening of taste discovery we got to know these beautiful Turkish wines: 

Yasasin - Kalecik Karasi red grapes fermented as a white sparkling wine. Loved this aperitif wine, the first and only in Turkey produced in the methode Champenoise. Yasasin is a Turkish toast meaning "Long life!" 

Narince - Made from grapes of the same name, this white wine showed ripe peach nose, creamy palate, and a dry finish with slight almond notes.  The unoaked version of this wine showed particularly well as a fresh medium-bodied white wine of character. 

Kalecik Karasi - The Pinot Noir of indigenous Turkish grapes. The wine was translucent with elegant cherry notes.  We also had the Reserve version, aged 14 months in French oak, which was richer,  more velvety and boasted riper cherries and a bit of chocolate. 

Bogazkere - A full-bodied red wine that offered both black and red fruit and notes of spice with firm tannins.  Excellent with full-flavored meat dishes.  

Okuzgozu - A wine known as "Bulls Eye," this was a big bold red wine with stewed red fruits and baking spices and a touch of smokiness.  

This line-up of indigenous Turkish wines was eye-opening in that they were all high quality. In addition, they were pleasing to American palates, yet all unique in their flavor and aroma profiles.  To have a taste of Vinkara wines, pay a visit to East Pole in New York City, where some of these special pours are on the list. 





Wine Blogger Impressions of a Beer Blogger's Conference

This August I seized the opportunity to attend my first Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference in the iconic beer city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

From start to finish it was fun, educational, friend-filled, and tasty.  Here are some of the highlights of my hoppy weekend:

Historic Pabst  - The BBC educational sessions were in the historic Pabst "Best Place" reception hall - a piece right out of American beer history.  Our lunch explored the Pabst Microbrewery - which seems like an oxymoron but a tour with one of the brewmasters and tasting of a number of their small production brews including a Forst Keller, Augsburger Godeln and Van Damme Good Tripel convinced me that this place was the real deal.

Educational Sessions and Tastings: I was most excited for Randy Mosher's Identifying and Describing Flavor, Smell, and Color in Beer.  Because it was at this session that my biggest question would be answered:  Is beer tasting essentially different than wine tasting?  The answer is that the process is pretty much the same, but the flavors and aromas are going to be different.  Never described a wine as "dank" or "resinous" and never had to consider the assortment of ingredients that make a beer.  It's a lot different thinking about the effect of hops rather than the characteristics of grapes.

Randy told us that all parts of the beer should taste good and to consider: Is it too astringent? That would give it a rough finish rather than clean. He talked about different kinds of malts such as Vienna, which gives a light sweet caramel aroma.  Randy acknowledged that beer tasting wasn't too different than wine tasting although the approach to aromatics was different.  "There are chemicals in beer you can't smell until they're in your mouth." That's because your mouth has enzymes in it. One of the best parts of the presentation was Randy set out a selection of Stone Brewing beers to taste through as he presented including Ghost Hammer (we picked up marigold and lemon) , Stone IPA (grapefruit), and Arrogant Bastard (toasted marshmallow and caramel).

Spontaneous learning: As I've always found with wine, the best way to learn is by hanging out and tasting with others.  I very much appreciated Carla Jean Lauter explaining to me the difference between lagers and ales.  Her point that lagers are brewed cold was brought home at our dinner stop where we got to see the pretty fantastic beer caves at the historic Miller Brewery - where their crisp lagers were indeed cold fermented below ground.

Fantastic welcoming Milwaukee:  The city of Milwaukee was fun, friendly, and fabulous for beer lovers. BBC participants went to so many inventive, high quality breweries and drank so much good beer - this is really a top destination for craft brew lovers, especially those who want to see a big part of American beer history.  I have to end with a shout out to the favorite brewery we visited: Lakefront Brewery which has capacious seating both inside and outside, a hilarious brewery tour, excellent range of beers (love their Pilsner - a much maligned style that they do so well), and gorgeous water-side location.

All and all, this wine blogger was impressed by her first Beer Bloggers Conference.  I'll be back!