Turkey’s Vinkara winery was established by Ardiç Gürsel in 2003 in the Anatolia region, reputed to be the birthplace of winemaking at least 8 thousand years ago. The modern era of winemaking in Turkey began in the 1990s. In this article, we taste several wines made of some of Turkey’s indigenous grapes (Narince, Bogazkere, and Kalecik Karasi) by one of the country’s leading wineries.
Located near the capital Ankara, Vinkara has 200 acres of vineyards planted at 700m elevation in the Kizihrmak River basin around the village of Kalecik. It’s a cool (73.2F mean temperature in July) and relatively dry (16-20 inches annually) climate with high diurnal temperature variation in the growing season. The soils are of clay, sand and limestone.
The winemaking team has been led by Italian enologist Marco Monchiero since 2008. Marco also makes the wines with Francesco Monchiero at Monchiero Carbone in Roero. It’s truly a small world. Francesco is also the president of the Consorzio Tutela Roero, and his wife Lucrezia Scarsi is export manager at Monchiero Carbone, one of the top producers in Roero. They were very gracious hosts during our week long visit to Roero to better acquaint ourselves with the wines and winemakers for our report, Wines of the Piedmont: Arneis and Nebbiolo from Roero.
Vinkara’s US importers are Terroir Selections, House of Burgundy, and Winebow.
Vinkara 2019 Narince Kalecik-Ankara 90 Pale straw. The Narince, originally from the Black Sea growing region, shows a fresh citrus nose with lemon and orange zest notes. It offers a fresh, very flavorful, soft and round palate that mirrors the nose with good freshness and bright acidity. Finishes crisp with medium length. 13.5% alc. US Importer: House of Burgundy
Vinkara 2018 Narince Reserve Kalecik-Ankara 92 Medium yellow straw. Offers a fragrant bouquet of honeycomb and orange and lemon citrus. A flavorful wine with good concentration and hints of lemon curd, honey, and acacia, the palate has a creamy character from 14 months on the lees in neutral French oak. A particularly fresh and attractive white wine. RS 2 g/L, 14% alc. US Importer: Terroir Selections
Vinkara 2016 Yasasin Brut Kalecik-Ankara 90 The Yasasin Brut delivers a nose of white fruit with hints of yeast. It offers good effervescence, an abundant mousse, and flavors more reminiscent of a Loire Cremánt than Champagne. A pleasant bubbly with a dry finish and medium acidity. Made from Kalecik Karasi grapes; 12% alc. US Importer: Terroir Selections
Vinkara 2011 Bogazkere Reserve Kalecik-Ankara 91 Dark ruby. Made from the Bogazkere (“throat burner in Turkish) grape, this full, lush wine offers spicy dark red plum and cherry fruit complemented by earth and cocoa powder notes. There’s good density and freshness and a firm tannic backbone. A wine meant to be consumed with hearty food. Matured 30 months in 225L French Burgundy barrels. 13.5% alc. Note: the current vintage of this wine in Turkey is 2014. US Importer: Winebow
Vinkara 2016 Kalecik Karasi Reserve Kalecik-Ankara 91 Medium red. Light red plum and red berries show on the nose of the Pinot Noir-like wine. The attack is very soft, and the palate has a silky feel with good depth of flavor. Made from Kalecik Karasi grapes (indigenous to Central Anatolia) that spend 12 months in tank before bottling. 14.5% alc.