I’m so glad that we are beginning to see wines, from places like Turkey, in our market. As a general note, Turkey grows a lot of grapes. There are thousands of different varieties of grapes in this eastern country, and only two percent are used for wine making. As such, most of the grapes grown in Turkey are used for filling bellies.
At the Vancouver International Wine Festival, I had the opportunity to sit down with Haluk Erenguc, Founder of Suvla Wines Canada, and Selim Zafer Ellialti, the proud owner of Suvla Wines.
The Back Story
After hearing the motto of Suvla Wines – “wine is life” – I couldn’t help but already be interested in what I was going to taste at the dinner being held at Terroir Kitchen in West Vancouver, BC.
Ellialti professed his love for wine making in a humble way. “My dream was to make a rich palate of wines. We worked more than one year to discover Turkish terroir.” With that information at hand, Suvla wines set out to make a strong portfolio of vino. Making over 120,000 cases per year alone, Suvla sets out to “make wine for everyone”. Ellialti added, “that’s why we’re doing a lot of wines, bold wines”.
Turkey’s climate is favourable for grape growers. With a variety of rainy winters and high diurnal range in the summer, there is little risk of vine kill in the winter and cool nights help to keep acidity high following hot afternoons.
Some of the noble grape varieties are being grown in Turkey, such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, but Suvla also wishes to represent their home by making wines from Karasakiz, a grape similar to Grenache.
Many of the wines in Suvla’s portfolio are blends of varietals we are already familiar with. So, for those of you who are anxious to explore the wines of the world, you can now find some Turkish wines and try them out!
Germany is currently Turkey’s biggest market, but things are starting to change. Ellialti plainly stated, “Within the last decades, there has been a focus on high quality wine making […] [as] the perception of Turkish wines is not positive in the last few decades”. Many restrictions have been in place due to religious and political issues in the country, and Ellialti believes that Turkey will “need a decade or more to develop the Turkish wines. It is a journey”.
Beginning with some butter poached lobster, guests sipped on Suvla’s “Kabatepe” [kah-bah-tep-peh], a white wine made from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Roussanne, and Marsanne. “Kabatepe” is the same of a historical harbour on the northern coast of the Aegean Sea located near the Gallipoli peninsula. It was clean and crisp, boasting of yellow apples, citrus, and brine. I really enjoyed the grassy notes in the finish.
Suvla’s rose, made from Karasakiz, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, was light and refreshing. This rose definitely brought summer to mind, and what I enjoyed most was the white pepper notes on the palate. It was not as delicate a rose as Pinot Noir makes, but it did show expected red fruit notes. The food pairing was a hard one for me to try as I have an aversion to consuming octopus, but Chef Kassam did a great job of mingling the grilled beast with a salad of chickpeas, cucumbers, radishes, parsley, and a preserved lemon vinaigrette.
Out of the seven courses being served that night at Terroir Kitchen, one of my favourites was the house made farfalle with brussels sprouts, Calabrian chili, garlic, anchovy paste, lemon, parsley, and bottarga. Paired with Suvla’s “Kirte” 2011, this red wine carried loads of dark plum, black fruits, hints of bacon fat, and proved to be a meaty wine. I was initially thinking that it would be too heavy for the farfalle, considering no meat was really present, but I was proven to have an incorrect assumption.
My favourite wine of the night was the Suvla Reserve Syrah 2011 matched to perfection with the bison rib made hunter style with cannellini beans, rosemary, garlic, and black truffle. Made exclusively with Syrah grapes, this wine was a wonderful expression of Syrah with its raspberry, red fruit driven backbone and peppery spices on the palate. Aged for 12 months in oak barrels, this wine is one I’d like to open up again.
Cheers to the team at Terroir Kitchen for hosting such a lovely food and wine centred event. Chef Faizal Kassam took great care with aligning the elements of these Turkish wines with local ingredients. With a focus on “artistry, technique, and creating lasting flavour profiles“, if you are interested in tasting these wines and experiencing Chef Kassam’s creations, be sure to head over to the resto.
Wine really is life!