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16 November 2016

Visiting Urla winery in Turkey

During my very first visit in Turkey and Izmir to judge Turkish wines, I had also the chance to visit some wineries. One of those that really impressed me both by its concept and quality was Urla winery located in Kuşçular district, 35 km west of Izmir.

Can Ortabaş who founded the winery in 2006 (it is now run together with three more partners) welcomed us in the beautiful open garden in front of the winery, where one could observe the various shades of autumn leaves together with the different clones of Boğazkere vines (central photo). We explore the winery with Isa Bal MS and Ayhan Guleyen and Jan explains that what we see here goes beyond just producing wine in the area.  

''I had a vision to revive viticulture in the area after I discovered some ancient vessels (pictured below) and now this dream is very much alive. Last year we had 80.000 visitors and were among the most visited wineries in Europe. Moreover this effort had great impact since now seven wineries are more or less active in the region''.

Isa Bal, the Turkish Master Sommelier comments that Can's venture attracted another kind of tourist influencing the whole region in a very positive way despite the fact that all the rest paramount were not favourable. 

Can Ortabaş

The vineyards extend in 58 hectares that produce approximately 250.000 bottles. Both international and indigenous varieties are being cultivated and Can proudly shows me that he managed to revive Urla Karasi something that is mentioned in the ''Wine Grapes'' bible. ''For me this is the biggest reward, to revive lost grapes'' he states. 

There is no official certification but no chemicals are used and Can is very sensitive with hygiene issues. He even uses a wash and dry machine for the grapes just after reception and this is not a joke!

After a tour in Can's private cellar where some treasures were discovered (check the Mavrodaphne vintages in the slide show) it was time to taste the wines. Short tasting notes (less than ten words) follow:

Sauvignon Blanc 2015

(Vines planted as high as 1080 more inland, still in İzmir, planted on top of an old gold mine, 10% Narince included in the blend, produced in 15.000 bottles). Aromatic, elegant, textural, more typicity on palate. 88/100.

Chardonnay 2015

(8% new oak used, no MLF). Beautiful, fresh, buttery, crispy, long, excellent balance and effort. 91/100.

Boğazkere 2014

(Rotofermenters used, Can has identified several clones, three show more interest). Dark fruit, savoury, firm, ripe tannins, muscular, exciting, ageworthy.  92/100. 

Vourla 2015

(A blend of international and indigenous varieties produced in 100.000 bottles). Soft, Merlot character, ripe, medium bodied, good. 88/100.

Nexus 2014

(Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Nero d' Avola 25%). Lovely balance, mint and minerals, long refined, intriguing. 90+/100.  

Urla Nero d'Avola-Urla Karasi 2014

Roses, dark fruit, leather, chocolate. Spicy, figs, ripe, lively tannins. (After 3 years). 92+/100.

Tempus 2014

(This is the flagship wine of the estate, a blend of Merlot, Syrah, Cab Sauvignon, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot). 15% abv, ripe fruit, espresso, chocolate. Big and concentrated. 91/100.

You can find Urla wines here.

The Winery
The Winery
Mavrodaphne treasure
Mavrodaphne treasure

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