(Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of our newest feature, “Supermarket Cellars,” which aims to uncover those drinkable Turkish wines that won’t kill your budget or, let’s face it, you. In charge of this mission is Aaron Stein — an expert on nuclear non-proliferation issues and PhD student by day, avid wine drinker and enthusiast by night — who has been assigned the thankless task of scouring Istanbul’s supermarket wine department shelves for budget-friendly diamonds in the rough. We plan on featuring his discoveries on a regular basis for as long as he can survive this hazardous assignment.)
Doluca’s Antik 2010 Boğazkere – Shiraz: A recommendation with reservations
Keeping in mind my “Supermarket Cellars” mission, on a recent visit to my local Migros, I purposefully avoided the more upmarket (i.e. more expensive) Turkish wines in favor of the more affordable wines placed rather fittingly on the wine department’s bottom three shelves. I was specifically looking for a wine to pair with a cheap pizza from my neighborhood pizzeria. I had just run a half marathon in Antalya the day before, and I was looking to veg out on the couch, rest my sore muscles and catch up on my “TiVo” (“Digiturk Plus” for all of our Turkish readers).
While perusing the aisles, I was drawn to Doluca’s Antik 2010 Boğazkere – Shiraz blend . I thought the wine would pair nicely with my soon-to-be-ordered sucuk-topped pizza – and it only cost 27.50 TL. Keeping in mind that I was about to drink a lower-priced Turkish wine, I opened the bottle, poured myself a glass and let the wine breathe for nearly 40 minutes before taking my first sip. For the Turkish wine novice, I strongly recommend letting all local wines open up for at least half an hour before tasting. Anything less and you may not experience the full breadth of flavor and could walk away unsatisfied.
The wine is aged in French oak barrels for eight months, bottled, then stored in Doluca’s cellars for two years before hitting supermarket shelves. The grapes are grown in Denizli – an area close to Turkey’s Aegean coast known for its grapes and wine making.
Boğazkere is a varietal usually grown in Turkey’s Southeast, so I am assuming that Doluca used a clone in this particular bottle.
At first the wine has a minerally nose and a slightly fruity first taste laced with a hint of red berries and distinct strawberry, followed by the medium acidic notes of the Shiraz. To temper the medium acidity, pairing it with a nice sheep cheese helps. If you are on a budget, the wine would also pair nicely with dried beef sausage, like sucuk, or an inexpensive but delicious Adana kebab from the wrap artists at Dürümzade .
After having two glasses I did feel a step slower the next morning. I wouldn’t call it a hangover, but the alarm clock was an unwelcome friend the next day. Turkey is infamous for its heavy use of sulfites, which leave most of its drinkers reaching for the painkillers in the morning. With this in mind, any future drinker should also pair this wine with some Advil and a couple of glasses of water before bed.
All in all, though, the wine surpasses expectations and is well worth a try.
Anfora’s 2009 Güney-Denizli Shiraz is a must miss
While collecting ingredients for veggie taco Tuesday (a holdover from my California days), I was tempted to purchase the Anfora Güney Denizli 2009 Shiraz. I thought that the more robust Shiraz would hold up well against the copious amounts of hot sauce I would use to cook our veggie tacos. The wine fit the criteria; I bought it at the local market; it cost less than 30 TL (22.90 TL to be exact); and I could drink it guilt-free while watching TV and catching up on the latest news.
Despite my initial attraction and the higher price of this bottle versus the Kav  I reviewed two weeks ago, the wine failed to deliver. The wine has a minerally and slightly fruity bouquet, which disappears quickly after inspiring a bit of false hope. After letting the wine breathe for close to 40 minutes (as recommended on the label), the first sip leads with a slightly off, almost grassy red berry taste and finishes with a touch of spice. There is a hint of what the Shiraz grape could deliver, but the wine is so muddled by such a barrage of indescribable flavors that it is difficult to put into words a distinct flavor profile. And to my disappointment, the wine is not well balanced; it is a bit “hot,” meaning that I can taste a lot of alcohol traveling down the back of my throat.
While the wine does get better the longer it sits and breathes, it does fail to pass the “drink with pleasure” test and should be avoided in favor of other better tasting and more satisfying low cost options. Moreover, the day after is a bit rough no matter how well you pace yourself or how few glasses you drink.