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Turkey is clearly on a roll as an emerging wine producer. I loved my one and only trip there in 2009, about which I wrote here and elsewhere. Since then Julia and I have tried to keep you up to date with more recent tasting notes. But however good some of the wines are, they do tend to be a bit expensive for what they are. The local market, as in Hungary for example, seems much readier to pay top dollar for the local ferment than a value-conscious non-Turkish wine buyer would.
That's why I was especially pleased to come across a thoroughly satisfying Turkish red blend recently that you can find at a really fair price. Roberson in London are selling it at just £14.95 a bottle and Armit Wines are offering it at £78.60 per case of six, which works out at £13.10 a bottle.
I didn't know what was in it when I tasted it at a tasting of Armit's wares but wrote that it was 'rich and satisfying and a bit like a hot-country Merlot. Obviously grown on dry terrain but with lots of delivery.' Apparently It's a blend of 42% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% the indigenous, structured Boğazkere and 8% Syrah, all estate-grown in Urla and aged for 10 months in new French oak (which makes the wine quite a bargain). The vineyards must be quite cool (as many of them are in the hinterland of Turkey's west coast) as the grapes were picked between September and early November. They are apparently 'at an average 175 m elevation with a mediterranean climate on calcareous clay topsoil with an underlying layer of equal amounts of silt, sand and clay.' Breezes help moderate temperature and the vines benefit from particularly dry summers and good diurnal temperature variation.
The vineyards and the winery were established 10 years ago by Can Ortabas on a vast estate on which he found that vines were originally the principal crop. All is farmed biodynamically with full gravity flow and all that in what is obviously a thoroughly modern winery but his USP is the introduction of a special grape-washing machine. Presumably it washes not just the dust but yeast off the grapes so they have to add cultured yeast? But we are told that his neighbours have been so impressed by his grape rinser/drier that they have copied it.
Alcohol is 14.5%, pH is a relatively high 3.82. But I would thorougly recommend this pleasing, vigorous, well-integrated wine. Armit are also offering its more expensive stablemate, the Cabernet-dominated Tempus 2010 Izmir, which reminded me of nothing more than an Israeli red but seemed much less good value and less ready to drink. I would happily drink the Vourla any time over the next three years.
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