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The hills and forests of the Thrace region are within a few hours of Istanbul but are a world away from the city. Surrounded by 3 different seas – Marmara, Aegean and Black Sea – a multitude of different microclimates produces an interesting range of different wines.

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of escorting a mixed group of local and international wine lovers to three vineyards where we met the producers and discovered the secrets of the wine-making process.

After a pleasant drive through the countryside, our first stop was the family business of Vino Dessera located in Kırklareli/ Lüleburgaz. On our arrival, we were greeted by the owner/wine-maker (and worker!) Doğan Dönmez and enjoyed a huge Turkish breakfast (is there any other size 🙂 ) that was waiting for us in the garden.

With breakfast finished, Doğan took us for a walk across the vineyard and explained how they originally started out growing walnuts and almonds before deciding to plant vines and, given the ‘terroir’ and Anatolian tradition, decided to make wine.

Both sandy and gravelly soils are present in this area, like in some places in France, facilitating many different vine and grape varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Barbera, Shiraz or Öküzgözü and Boğazkere. In total, there are 15 different grapes growing on the vineyard.

After our tour we returned to the cellar to begin our degustation of five different wines:

  • Narince – clear and transparent, shining, the first nose is of white pear and tilleul aromas, while in the mouth the same aromas comes back. Very well balanced, fine and elegant white. To be drunk with unspiced “meze” white fish like sole or levrek and salad.
  • Blush Rose – Two grapes for this special rose wine, Cabernet Sauvignon and Kalecik Karası 2013. The first grape gives the structure of the wine while the second brings the fine fruity taste and smell. A light wine to be drank any time in the day…with moderation.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2014 – Smooth and ripe fruits with enough tannin to keep it a few years.
  • Cabernet Franc 2013 – Fruity but with tannin very present after six months in french oak barrels…time will mellow the tannins so this is one to keep.
  • Shiraz 2009 – The last one was a smooth, strong, full body wine with six month in french oak barrels and six months in the bottle before sale. The right wine to be kept for another 10 years, if you can wait!

All the reds need to be decanted before serving for a minimum of half an hour. Even the whites and rose will benefit from being opened ahead of time and being kept in the cold before serving. Oxygen will help to get more aroma from the wine, as we say “the wine is opening”.

Well good start for a Sunday morning..but time to go to our second stop which will be the famous Arcadia Vineyard in the same region but an hour and a half away.

So see you in a few days to give you more information and tasting notes from Arcadia