Sommeliers’ Selection 2018

somms selection

Author: Berkin BIRSEN, aged 32. Helicopter Pilot, Amateur Photographer. Deeply interested in winetastings.
Working on Wine Logistics within MSc in Logistics Engineering

Sommeliers’ Selection 2018 wine fair featured last weekend in Istanbul. Masterclasses, walking around tasting area and a line up of 180 wines listed according to their bodies were very well organised.

Wine fairs sometimes may become a little chaotic; elbows, glasses, booklets, chit-chats. But sometimes, cosy and busy can be also nice. We focused on the Turkish wines which are developing, tried new vintages, discovered new brands, met the producers and also attended a masterclass given jointly by İsa Bal MS and Matt Wilkin MS.

We know that wine producers face a lot of limitations when it comes to advertising their wines in Turkey. For this reason, I think the participation to these wine fairs by the producers is one of the important achievements. This is almost the only way that the producers can meet the wine connoisseurs in Turkey. Provided that the producers would agree with me, I can’t help asking myself why did only a handful of the producers bring their winemakers to this event? In addition communicating with these few winemakers and asking your questions was uneasy as well.

As it is important to show as many wines at these fairs, it is also hugely important to be able to serve and present these wines to the consumers. This was not always the case at this event. Some of the wines were left with their own destiny. This can be a big problem for some producers, because I noticed some faulty wines. And in this instance there was no representative of a particular winery to discuss the issue at that particular table. This could result in losing potential wine customers in a short space of time. On the other hand, service temperature of wines may be very incorrect too, if you don’t attend your wines. In a wine fair with about 180 wines, it is very easy to be confused. If you know what you are looking for, with a well organised and open-minded walking around, you can easily broaden your knowledge. Sometimes best wines for you are the ones which have not been tried yet. After all, it is the responsibility of the taster to make the most out of this event!

In many wine fairs, especially in masterclass selections, it is common to see an overrated or average wine being selected. It is obvious that to be selected or getting high points at wine fairs is a very big marketing and advertising for producers so some of these producers might influence these choices in different ways. I think consumers should listen to their inner voice and trust their own judgment to find good wine.

Some people like to overrate boutique wineries, to some extent in short-term this can be helpful for these boutique wineries. I don’t share the same opinion, big producers also spend a very big effort to make good wines. Sometimes more than others. So positive discrimination is not fair at all. I don’t see the point of exaggerating a wine because it comes from a smaller producer. The wines should be judged on their quality merit.

Even though this was my first time attending this event last week, I remember other wine lovers positively criticising similar things last year when I read the comments. I find that these invaluable comments were not taken into consideration for this year’s event. Why can’t the wines simply be exhibited per the producer? And each producer or the representative present their own wines. After all, they will be the ones who know these wines better than anyone and can simply guide through when it comes to tasting order. Isn’t it also an issue for the organisers to prescribe the wines per the body? They would simply have to taste all the wines together before the event to truly analyse and do this order. Imagine this is done for an event like Prowein or Vinexpo. This is not logistically possible either.

Enough of ranting. Now I would love to share my favourites from this amazing event. My champion for whites is from Northern Austria, a very high-quality Grüner Veltliner of FX Pichler This wine is quite remarkable with its fresh citrus notes and beautiful minerality. I was very happy to taste a new producers’ wines from Kapadokya Region. Emir of Argos Winery is a characterful wine with very competitive price.

I tasted a clean chardonnay from the famous and award-winning Thracian producer Chamlija’s Felix Culpa. Felix Culpa means happy mistake and I was really very happy to taste this wine.

One of the biggest producers of Turkey is Kavaklıdere and their Cotes D’Avanos Narince is a unique example of this precious grape. After aging 3-5 years, this wine can be a great match with a shellfish plate.

If I don’t have to pay to drink, I will definitely choose Selendi Sarnıç’s Chardonnay-Viognier. If we ignore it’s over-priced $30 value, nice oak hints and intense floral notes make this wine one step ahead than other examples.

When it comes to reds, for me Chamlija has a very high-quality Cabernet Franc, named Asticus Mons. For patient wine lovers, this wine means a lot. After some years, this wine has a potential to turn into a special gift for yourself.

Vinero winery is getting ready to show Turkey’s high-quality wine producing capability but before the superstar is released, we can taste a star; Porto Caeli Ament 2013 which was made by consultant Michel Rolland. Absolutely it is like a shining star. This full-bodied magnificent strong wine was the most charming along all wines at Sommeliers’ Selection 2018.

If this wine fair was a competition, competitor wines would not have a chance to be in stage against Chateau Nuzun’s wines. Instead of lucky terroir at Thracian region, this winery’s modern organic wines are always clean and have rich aromas.

Umurbey Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Reserve 2015 is really outstanding. Recently, many wines have high alcohol but these wines are very well balanced and have complex aromas.

My last favourite was from one of the biggest producer. Doluca’s well known high-quality wine Alçıtepe Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz 2013 has a very high alcohol more than 15% but well integrated, has intense spicy and rich aromatic flavours.

Producers had a big chance to expand their customer base, introduced their wines and their stories. Some of them used this chance very well with successful masterclasses, well-educated staff and high motivation. Even if some producers did all these well, no success gained due to their some faulty wines. They will have a chance to fix the situation at least 1 year later. For wine lovers having a chance to taste and discover 180 wines for only $60 is a really golden opportunity. Wine lovers should not miss the next Sommeliers’ Selection 2019 in Istanbul.

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