Tuesday, October 11, 2011

From the Cotes du Rhône Valley/Paul Jaboulet Vineyards to "Down Under" and the d'Arenberg Vineyards...

Dear readers,

I had every intention of writing Part II of my 2-part series on travelling to Istanbul in the Fall/Winter season, but I got sidetracked and just had to give a wine break!

Now that the Fall season is upon us, wine tastings organized by many Turkish wine distributors as well as Turkish wine producers have begun! So much so that I was able to attend 2 wine tastings  - organized by ADCO Fine Wines (www.adcogida.com.tr) - was held a few days apart taking its participants from the rolling hills of the Cotes du Rhône Valley in the southeast of France with a visit to the "traditional" Domaines Paul Jaboulet Aîné all the way to the "new generation" d'Arenberg Vineyards in the McLaren Vale region in South Australia. And.. what a wonderful trip it was!

Domaines Paul Jaboulet Aîné
The Paul Jaboulet Aîné was founded by Antoine Jaboulet in 1834 and upon his death in 1864, was managed by his twin sons Paul and Henri. The "elder son" (aîné in French) Paul was instrumental in building the company and was so named. The vineyards were run and managed by the family until 2006 when the Frey Company purchased the vineyards.

The Paul Jaboulet vineyards is a total of 114,2 hectares and the majority of the wines are produced with grapes harvested in the south of the Cotes du Rhône Valley while a much smaller portion harvested in the northern part of the vineyards located right above the 45th paralel of the Equator. In the northern part only Syrah grapes are harvested while in the southern region the majority of the graphes harvested are Grenache grapes along with Marsanne, Roussanne, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Muscat grapes. To be quite frank, except for the "better known" grape varieties (Grenache, Syrah, Muscat), I was not familiar with the other grapes, so this was going to be a new experience for me!

The wine tasting was held on a lovely balmy and sunny afternoon on Wednesday, October 5th at the restaurant at the newly opened House Hotel in Ortaköy affording a lovely view of the Bosphorus.

View from the House Hotel Restaurant
The Paul Jaboulet vineyards produce 28 brands of wine and of the wine produced,  90% are red wines. At our tasting, we had the opportunity to taste 9 wines that are available in Istanbul.

Our hosts for the day was Michat Bertrand, export manager for the Jaboulet Vineyards and Randolph Ward Mays, owner of ADCO Fine Wines, which was established in 1990. Mr. Mays is also the founder and chairman of the Sommelier Association of Turkey.

Michat Bertrand (left), Randolph Ward Mays (right)
After Mr. Bertrand gaves u a short overview of the company, it was time to taste the wines!

The group attending the wine tasting was mainly made up of sommeliers and restaurant owners - except for a couple of "non-professionals" like me who were lucky enough to join the group! I am an Ordre du Mondial member and because of my interest in learning more about wines, these tastings are a god send for me!

As with all wine tastings, you start with the white wines and continue with the reds and in some cases, ending with a dessert wine. And... the sequence of wines tasted start from the good (moderately priced), to the better (pricier) to the best (expensive)!

In order, we tasted the following wines. I am not going to "judge" any of the wines as wine is a personal taste - I might like a wine, but that does not mean you will like it - you just have to try them to find the one(s) that suit you the most! I will just give you information on the grapes and alcohol content. All are available in Istanbul at select wine shops and you can get more information about them from Adco's "Vinum Wine Market" website (www.sarapmarketi.com.tr). Unfortunately, I was not able to take pictures of each wine label and only have a couple of samples.

1) Cotes du Rhône Paralelle 45 (2003)/White (Grenache blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Bourboulenc, Clairette (13% alcohol) 

2) Hermitage Chevalier de Sterimberg (2009)/White (65% Marsanne and 35% Roussanne) (13,5% alcohol)

3) Cotes du Rhône Parallele 45 (2007)/Red (Syrah and Grenache Noir) (14% alcohol)

4) Gigondas Pierre Aiguille (2006)/Red (80% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre (14,5% alcohol)

5) Paul Jaboulet Aîné Chateauneuf du Pape (2007)/Red (75% Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault (15% alcohol)

6) Crozes Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert (2007)/Red (Syrah) (13% alcohol)

7) Hermitage La Petite Chapelle (2004)/Red (Syrah) (14% alcohol)

8) Hermitage La Chapelle (2004)/Red (Syrah)

9) Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (2007)/Sweet Wine (Muscat)

Yes, it was definitely a lovely afternoon... the weather was perfect and the wines added a new level to my understanding and education of the use of different blends of grape! 

Just as I was recovering from the "high" of learning more about different French wine (my all time favorites!) producers, I was further excited and thrilled to receive an email this past Friday asking me to attend another wine tasting organized by ADCO Fine Wines!

This time we would be going "down under", the venue was Lucca... my ALL TIME favorite hangout and it was scheduled for Monday, October 10!

 d'Arenberg Vineyards
Compared to the lovely and sunny day we had during our previous wine tasting, it was apparent that Fall had finally arrived in Istanbul over the weekend... it was literally pouring out of the heavens on Monday!

I gave myself enough time to arrive for the 3:00pm wine tasting at Lucca as I knew the bad weather would further affect the heavy traffic problems we have in Istanbul! However, I was pleasantly surprised that I was immediately able to get a taxi from my neighborhood's taxi stand (on normal days I have problems!) and didn't run into as much traffic as I thought.

Lucca was ready for us and had set up the tables just right including an assortment of "goodies" (cheese, figs, walnuts, etc) to accompany the tasting!

This time, the hosts of the event were Claire Scott, d'Arenberg Vineyards Wine Ambassador, Cem Mirap, owner of Lucca and of course, Randolph Ward Mays, owner of ADCO Fine Wines!

Claire Scott
Randolph Ward Mays (left), Cem Mirap (right)

According to the company profile, the d'Arenberg Vineyards journey into the world of winemaking was established in 1912 when the teetotaling Joseph Osborn purchased a 65 hectare property in the northern part of McLaren Vale in South Australia. His son Francis Ernest Osborn joined his father in the business and they expanded their property to 78 hectares, selling grapes to local wineries and when the winery facilities were finished, their first vintage occurred in 1928. In 1943, 3rd generation Francis d'Arenberg joined the family business, got full control of the business in 1957 and in 1959, he created the d'Arenberg brand.

Fourth generation Chester d'Arenberg Osborn was appointed Chief Winemaker in 1984. In an article about Chester by respected wine writer Andrew Jefford for Waitrose Food Illustrated, he said "I have long nurtured a theory that the best wine creators are slightly crazy - that they inhabit a parallel universe to the rest of us and therefore work with a kind of focus and attention that eludes their more traditional couterparts".

Considered a "bit" crazy, the company profile states that Chester is idealistic and labor intensive and that his "way" is an accountant's nightmare and a winemaker's dream... because wine quality always comes first with him.

Before I start mentioning the wonderful wines we tasted, I also want to mention that both the red and white wines are basket pressed to ensure gentle extraction and red ferments are foot trod (about 45 minutes for each batch) to get the desired amount of tannin, color and flavor.

Now... about the wines...this time I had a chance to take a picture of each wine we sampled and we tasted 8 wines that are available in Istanbul. During this tasting, I had the opportunity to taste Viognier, a grape variety that I had never tasted before. Also, I normally prefer red wines, but was very impressed with the series of white wines we tasted.

1) The Stump Jump Vintage/white (2006) (Reisling, Sauvignon Blanc, Marsanne, Viognier and Chardonnay) (13% alcohol)

 2) The Hermit Crab/White (2007) (Viognier and Marsanne) (13,5% alcohol)  
3) The Lucky Lizard/White (2007) (Chardonnay) (13,5% alcohol)

4) The Stump Jump Vintage/Red (2007) (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) (14% alcohol)
5) The Footbolt/Red (2008) (Syrah) (14,5% alcohol)
6) Laughing Magpie/Red (2007) (Syrah and Viognier) (14,5% alcohol)

7) The Wild Pixie/Red (2009) (94% Syrah and 6% Rousanne)
8) The Deadarm/Red (2007) (Syrah) (14,5% alcohol)

Even though the weather was not on our side, the wonderful wines and their amusing names made our day! Each name has a story and you can visit their website for the details.

I would once again like to thank ADCO Fine Wines for inviting me to these wonderful wine tastings! It's always a pleasure to discover, explore and evaluate wines from around the world!

I find it quite interesting that when I was preparing my Pendore Vineyards post, I stated that I was having a glass of Cotes du Rhône wine and right afterwards, I was invited to the Paul Jaboulet Vineyards (located in the Cotes du Rhône valley!) wine tasting... this time... I am having a glass of Bolla Valpolicella Classico (2009) wine... so what do you think, will my next wine tasting be Italian wines?

One final note... Don't think I have forgotte about Turkish wines! They are also near and dear to my heart and will be writing about them too... as soon as I get invited to a wine tasting by Turkish producers too to be able to prepare a well-balanced post!



  1. I love it, you have done a wonderful job....

  2. dear reader!

    Thank you for your short and sweet comment! It's always motivational to get some feedback!