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Anfora Shiraz, Chateaux Les Valentines & Corvus Cabernet Sauvignon 2006After having attended many wine tasting in the past I decided it was time to hold my own Dégustation de vin chez moi. It is difficult to choose wine to taste when you are unfamiliar with the local wine, so a touch of the familiar and a touch of the unfamiliar were necessary for this first attempt. Matching the chosen wine with food pairings became a challenge I embraced with vigour.

Being an Australian, we have a very open-minded approach to food and wine pairings. The belief that whites go with seafood and chicken and reds with red meat, is not adhered to in Australia. Perhaps we are spoilt, due to an array of different wine varieties and fusion foods, making the matching possibilities endless?

On to the tasting….

Having spent quite some time in the Sud de la France, I am very partial to Rosé from this region. The first bottle was a 2010 Chateaux Les Valentines readily available in les caves en France but of course impossible to find here in Istanbul. The pastel colour of salmon, the nose of raspberries and strawberries and a fruity palate enhanced by the Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cabernet Sauvignon grape combination, made this a perfect wine to begin with. I paired this with a caramelised onion and red bell pepper tart with a touch of thyme and a drizzle of my favourite local olive oil Laleli Erken Hasat Sizma Zeytinyagi. (This award winning olive oil is available from Laleli in Bebek.) The pairing worked wonderfully and the flavours complimented each other perfectly.

The next combination included a Chardonnay from South Africa, a mild aged Turkish cheddar and black olives. The Rani Farm Organik Eski Cheddar didn’t overpower this light wine, which seemed suited to the consumable English palate. The saltiness of the black olives balanced the crispness of this wine. You must try these cheese products from this Antalya based company, available at Macrocenter and the Real Market in Fulya near Mecidiyeköy and Gayrettepe.

The reds followed, with a 2007 Anfora Shiraz from Pamukkale. This sek kırımızı sarap made from Güney Denizli grapes displayed very little nose and didn’t have a lingering finish. For true red wine connoisseurs this wine will disappoint. The Turkish Gouda and the raspberry dark chocolate were expected to compliment this Shiraz. Firstly, the Rani Keçi Gouda was a surprising highlight of the whole night. Made with goat’s milk rich in vitamin D, this cheese (very unlike a Dutch Gouda) was creamy on the palate and not unlike a French Tomme de chèvre, un fromage j’adore! The best addition to the chocolate scene in Turkey is the British named Lovells acquired by the chocolate conglomerate Ulker Group. The Framboise Croquant with its crisp raspberry flecks and bitter 58% cacao flavours helped make this light bodied wine much more interesting than it actually was.

The night ended with the anticipated 2006 Corvus Cabernet Sauvignon. I had read quite a lot before the tasting about this winery from the Bozcaada Island in the North Aegean Sea and had high expectations for this vintage. Stored in French barrels for 12 months and using an Italian bottle design, the bouquet was lovely with blackberry, black cherry and peppery aromas. The high tannins however, attributed to quite a bitter finish at the back of the palate. The Rani Mimolette in contrast, was a very good addition but the Roquefort Gougères really matched well with this Cab Sav. These light choux pastry ‘puffs’ of cheese melted in your mouth and the edgy blue cheese taste and flavour cut through this wine to give a savoury and satisfying finish. The night wouldn’t have been complete without a sweet little surprise…flourless gâteau au chocolat avec coulis de framboises, délicieux! The wine, well the jury is out on this one. Certainly not up to my expectations.  However I think the Turkish wines and organic cheese paired just as well as the red wine with the chocolate.

Sally McDonald

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This post first appeared on www.enjoy-istanbul.com