Roll up, roll up! Step this way, fellow intrepid tasters, and join us for this ‘Curiosity Shop’ edition of #TWSTaste.
Both of these bottles are featured in our current Curiosity Shop offer: our carefully curated cavalcade of curious and unusual delights…
We hope you’re ready to take your palates for a walk on the wider side of wine, courtesy of a Turkish rarity and our first-ever Czech wine. The latter, of course, has an added poignancy this evening due to the terrible news about the talented winemaker behind it (see below); nevertheless, we hope you will take this opportunity to raise a glass to him with us.
If you’re sitting comfortably, then, here is a little info about the wines in front of us this evening:
Our buyers do love finding new wines and regions, but even by their standards this is an unusual one!
The white hasandede grape was all but extinct until a few years ago, when it was revived by the excellent Vinkara winery. Thanks to their efforts, this grape will not be joining the ranks of the dodo or woolly mammoth. Hooray!
Vinkara’s team believe they are the only people in the world who still work with this grape. Completely unique and with bags of personality, this Turkish original offers succulent peach and pear flavours, with a wonderful balance between sweet spice, savoury notes and softness.
Let’s have a look at where Vinkara are! This winery dates back to the 1960s when the group purchased land in the Kalecik region (after which the Kalecik karası grape is named, and another grape they make delicious wine from) in Ankara:
The chief varieties planted are Kalecik karası, öküzgözü, boğazkere and narince, all native to Anatolia. They also make cabernet sauvignon, merlot, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and riesling… and hasendede!
Since 2008 oenologist Marco Monchiero , from Piemonte, joined Vinkara as consultant, and they are developing further under his guidance. Here he is, tending the treasures in the vineyard:
The winery is owned by the dynamic Gürsel family. Father Oguz Gürsel was a very successful civil engineer, and the family now own excellent individual hotels, such as the Marmara in Istanbul. His daughter, Ardıç, runs the winery with similar vision and commitment to quality.
The vineyards here stand at around 650m above sea level, and are surrounded by mountains, creating an ideal microclimate: during the summer, the mountains allow the flow of air to the plain, and in the spring and autumn, the accumulated rain acts as a natural water supply. They are also only 4km from the Kizilirmak River, which provides irrigation when needed. There’s also a large variation between day and night temperatures, helping to give high acidity and lovely aromatic quality. They look nice, too:
Our first purchases from Vinkara were from the 2010 vintage, when Sebastian Payne MW was buying for the area. That mantle has been taken on by @Freddy, who joins us this evening; hello Freddy!
And now for a wine that, despite the devastating news we received just weeks ago, we are very proud to be able to share with you tonight: an unfiltered Czech blaufränkisch, made by the late Tomáš Cacík.
This is the first ever Czech wine sold by The Society.
A former chef turned winemaker, Tomáš advocated a minimal-intervention approach in the winery, stripping the winemaking process right back to let the vineyards and the fruit speak for themselves as much as possible.
The deliciously unadulterated result has fresh red-fruit aromas with a lovely hint of leather, bright acidity on the crisp, crunchy palate and succulent strawberry-flavoured charm.
Tomáš came from a family of grapegrowers and winemakers in the village of Kobyli, in the Velkopavlovice region of Moravia.
He studied in Prague, became a chef and then returned to working with his father and grandfather among the vines.
He started winemaking in his early thirties, saying that wine constantly taught him things, rather than him having to force the wines to be something they weren’t. There was never a dull moment for him on his tiny two-hectare vineyard.
Sadly, on New Year’s Eve 2018, after a short illness, Tomáš died aged just 43.
We hope you will join us in toasting his memory this evening.
Without further ado, then… let’s begin.