05 October 2016

Turkish Wine of the Week - Visiting Edirne and Chamlija's Blanc de Noirs

A few weeks ago E&M, R, and I headed out of Istanbul. None of us had ever been to Edirne, the old second capitol of the Empire, and on a roll after Bozcaada, I wanted to visit a few area wineries. So we rented a car and headed out to adventure.

Adventure that was made both hilarious and painful long before we ever got to our destination thanks to Google Maps' incredibly bad Turkish pronunciation. I realize it's just a computer but come on. I mean think goodness I wasn't the navigator because I truly had no idea what she was saying.

View of the Mosque of Three Balconies from our hotel

Monument to Mimar Sinan by his greatest mosque

Once we got into Edirne it took several wrong turns, arguing with Google Maps' bad Turkish, and asking directions twice to find our hotel. But once we got there and checked in we set off on a short walk to the Selimiye Mosque. Our first priority was the museums as our guidebooks said they were closed on Monday. The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts is in the mosque's courtyard which oddly enough made it even more difficult for us to find! We were not having good luck with Google Maps that day. Eventually find it we did and we went in to wander the air conditioned, glassed in corridors that wrap around a courtyard holding old marbles. Several of the displays included tableau of old Ottoman and Turkish life. My favorite being the section on the traditional oil wrestling where there was even a holograph showing a wrestling ceremony.

They're supposed to be wrestling but it looks cannibalistic to me!

From here we wandered across the street to the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum where we discovered more tableau, examples of traditional painting on wood, marbles, statues, and religious bits and bobs from the various cultures that passed through Edirne (once Greek Adrianopole).

It was then time to visit the Selimiye Mosque-once of the greatest of all the Ottoman mosque complexes and a triumph for the leading Ottoman architect: Mimar Sinan. Completed in 1575, a year after his death, the dome of the mosque is six cubits wider and four deeper than that of the Haghia Sofia.

It's a truly stunning creation both architecturally and in its decoration. This is probably my second favorite mosque in Turkey after the Rustem Pasa Mosque in Istanbul. I know, I know...the Blue Mosque blah blah blah-it's nice but there are others that are better and this is definitely one of them.

On our way to Edirne we made a slight detour to visit one of my favorite wineries in Turkey-Chamlija. Not only do I rarely have a bad word to say about Chamlija wines, I almost hands down love (barring Chardonnay which I don't like in general and to be fair have never tried Chamlija's). We were greeted by owner, the charming Mustafa Camlica who runs the vineyards that are dotted around Kirklareli. We sat down to do a tasting and he brought out four wines saying with a grin that we would be "starting with your favorite" as he brandished a bottle of their Albarino. It's true, it is (at least one of!) my favorite. So much so that I've blogged about it twice. However this wasn't just the Albarino-we were treated to a tasting of Chamlija's new 2015 Alvarinho Reserve. This was followed by the 2015 Papaskarasi (I've previously reviewed the 2014), the 2015 Mavrud, and the 2015 Öküzgözü-Boğazkere. Be on the lookout for tasting notes on these at a later date!

Before leaving Chamlija we made plans to order (they deliver to Istanbul if you buy a case!) and also bought a few bottles to go. One of which was the Karıştıran Bağları. You won't find this wine on the order list as it's one of two made really just for the local market but since we were there and being locals for the afternoon we bought a bottle. After a long day of driving and exploring we retired early to our hotel with some pide and Chamlija wines.

The Karıştıran Bağları is a 2015 blend of Pinot Noirs. In the nose there were a lot of black fruits like plum and blueberry as well as nail polish and maybe some gun smoke. It was slightly effervescent when we first took out the cork but as the wine opened and warmed up (we'd put in the fridge since "room temperature" that day was 38!) it smoothed out and the fizziness dissipated. No tannins or finish to speak of this was definitely the local wine-but it was fun to try!

Several cuts above the local wine was the 2015 Blanc de Noirs. A white wine made with Papaskarası (i.e. red) grapes, this was truly gorgeous. Go out and buy this now. Like right now.

Pale clear yellow in the glass it had a delicate citrus and tropical nose with possibly some floral elements. On the palate it was clean with some lively acid, an excellent finish, and flavors of peaches, tropical fruits, and lemon. Too easy to drink; this Blanc De Noirs by Chamlija definitely gets tagged as being #dangerouslydrinkable.

Day one in Edirne was a success! During day two we'll visit more mosques, attempt to round out our religious experience with a church and a synagogue, and visit a boutique winery!

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