The last night I was at the wine & dine event held by Doluca Vineyards in Changa Restaurant – Istanbul. We were in an event of pairing Doluca’s Karma Wines with Changa’s head chef Mr Civan Er’s “fusion” style courses.
Before dinner, we took a small tasting session about Doluca’s Karma Wines in order to discover the wines which will be served during the dinner.
The first wine we tasted was the only white wine from Karma a blend of Chardonnay – Narince from 2008 vintage. I had tasted this wine before during the special event of “Aged Red Wines of Turkey” held in last February in Izmir together with Mr. Vedat Milor and Wine Enthusiasts from Izmir. This wine has a pale lemon color and matured about 12 months in American & French oak barrels. The wine is oaky for me actually. The integration of oak to the fruit is not that balanced so that oak aromas are quite distinctive. Certainly the producer might have thought about the Turkish wine consumers who like such oaky aromas such as vanilla, some toasty notes, smoky notes, coconut, a little toasted bread and some buttery flavors beside them etc.
Well, beside the oaky aromas, we can also feel the fruit notes after a while and after shaking the glass. Some nice citrus notes, peach and melon are clearly marked behind the oak as well as some hint of floral notes. With medium acidity and medium level of body, this wine has still got the oaky notes during the medium length finish.
So, as a starter we had two dishes; first one was “Warm double soup with chard and beet” and the the second was “Salmon smoked by cherry tree chips and Cucumber with galangal”.
First of all, I must write about the “bread” on the table. The “Bagel” style bread was one of the best I have eaten since long time. As the waiter replied us that Changa cooks their own bread, I have to say only, well done!
Changa’s classical “double” soup is served with a special type of glass looks like a sandglass. At the bottom of the glass there is chard soup and at the top there is beet soup. That’s certainly a product of a very nice and creative idea. Especially I liked the beet soup which has some creamy intensity matches well with Karma Chardonnay-Narince. May be the chard soup’s acidity is quite stronger than the wine just like the next coming dish (smoked salmon); however, in any case, the result is not bad at all!
“Salmon smoked by cherry tree chips and Cucumber with galangal” is a nice dish in terms of presentation. The cucumber was sliced like spaghetti shape which is a very nice idea. Galangal –a different type of ginger belongs to Far East- was on the top of the cucumber. At the bottom we’ve got the salmon. Actually salmon was a little bit dry from inside. You feel this especially when you it it alone. However, it goes well with Karma Chardonnay-Narince. Most probably the cucumber was marinated by “lime” which made a strong acidity for the dish, whereas the wine has quite medium acidity with intensive oaky aromas which create an unbalanced situation with the dish.
Our next course was “Georgian mushroom ravioli with creamy quince and parmesan sauce, with Lapsang Souchong Tea leaves” and “Grilled vine leaves stuffed with lamb tandouri, with creamy sour / paprika sauce” together with Karma Merlot – Bogazkere from 2008 vintage.
Let me tell about this wine at first. Just like all other Karma wines, this Merlot-Bogazkere blend also has got a high alcohol level above 14%. Ruby colored with plenty of red berry aromas on the nose, with cherry and some hints of spice (clove and cinnamon) and red plum give us the general characters of the wine. A vibrant acidity on the palate meets with a significant tannin structure comes from Bogazkere grape. However, all fruity flavors on the nose continue in the palate as well. The wine is a good one for me which has quite medium-short finish.
So, let’s come to the dishes… “Georgian Ravioli” was interesting with its creamy quince and parmesan sauce; however, I could not find any real alternative effect of “Lapsang Souchong tea leaves” on this dish.
I have to say that unfortunately the dish did not match with “Karma Merlot-Bogazkere” especially due to the intensive creamy quince and parmesan sauce, whereas the sauce was perfectly prepared for me but the wine could not reach to this level. May be we could consider the first wine Chardonnay-Narice blend with this dish if the wine could meet the acidity.
After tasting Karma Merlot-Boğazkere with the other dish “Grilled vine leaves stuffed with lamb tandouri, with creamy sour / paprika sauce” I immediately required from the waiter to bring us the next wine which was “Karma Cabernet Sauvignon-Okuzgozu”. Thanks to the waiter, we found a good and more balanced match finally for this dish. However, unfortunately Merlot-Bogazkere could not reach to the overall intensity of this dish. The intensity of tandouri together with creamy sour and paprika sauce was a real integrity with Cabernet Sauvignon – Okuzgozu blend.
Our last course before the dessert was “Duck Confit, with Plum sauce, with Lime Pilaf on the side” which we tasted “Karma Cabernet Sauvignon- Okuzgozu 2008” together with this dish.
Matured for 12 months in French oak barrels this “Cabernet Sauvignon- Okuzgozu” from 2008 vintage has dark ruby color. Dark berries, black mulberry, black currant, plum, caramel, vanilla, quite distinctive butter, some spicy and toasty notes from behind. Significant acidity on the palate, tannins are soft and the wine has medium-full bodied. The palate is fruitier than the nose with a nice long finish.
Duck confit and its plum sauce were really successful and matched very well with the wine especially for their structure and aroma character. I believe, Duck would be certainly a good friend for such a wine in any case. When we come to the “lime pilaf” we see that Basmati rice was used in the pilaf which has Eastern style flavors together with different spices from East. This is an excellent “pilaf” for me actually when I consider this alone, however, based into the point of view that we make a food & wine match, the aroma characters and spicy flavors of the “pilaf” could not meet well with the wine actually.
So at this point, we may choose “Karma Shiraz-Bogazkere” which has nice spicy aromas coming from Shiraz with intensive body structure. This wine has dark ruby color with purple highlights. Matured for about 12 months in French-American oak barrels. Fumé notes, Cuban cigar, toasted nut, chocolate, even chocolate milk and dark berry aromas are meeting with citrus and spicy aromas behind. On the palate it has medium level of acidity with a medium body, may be quite diluted. We feel much fruit on the palate like other Karma wines.
Our final course, as dessert was “tiramisu with chestnut”. Beside the dessert Doluca’s classical dessert wine called “Safir” was served. I really like this wine actually and it has been always one of my favorite Doluca wines which is produced by Muscat grapes and classical Muscat notes such as lots of honey, floral notes and citrus flavors are very significant on the and palate. May be not a perfect match with the dessert however, I always enjoy when I drink this wine.
Unfortunately I could not take any photos due to Changa’s quite dark dining room. As a result, although Doluca’s Karma wines are not as good as their first vintages, there is always a good potential lies in these wines. I have to also go to Changa once again in order to taste Chef Civan Er’s lovely dishes…