2021 Paşaeli, Karasakis, Old Vine Red Wine, Aegean, Turkey.
I recently tasted Paşaeli, a Turkish family run winery, and was pleased with the light and delicious nature of their pale ruby red Old Vine Karasakis, from the Aegean region, which showed off a Pinot Noir like freshness and silky body with strawberry, cherry and guava fruits on the medium bodied palate, along with delicate spices, dried flowers and herbs, as well as very subtle oak and lively acidity. Honestly most of the Turkish wine I’ve tried was at local fairs and cultural events, as most Turkish restaurants are places to get a beer and a Donner, and none have been as delightful as this Paşaeli. Seyit Karagözoğlu, who planted vineyards and founded Paşaeli more than twenty years ago now after spending a decade as a wine importer, makes a wide array of small batch wines from whites, reds, rosés and sparkling versions, with both Pet-Nats and Methode Champenoise. This wine made from 100% Karasakız variety, which is native to north Kaz Dağlar, and in the Marmara appellation, an area that is notably close to the ancient and historic Troy, and is a single vineyard wine coming from 35 year old bush vines located 1,640 feet above sea level set on of sand and clay soils with some volcanic veins and granite rocks as well. For this wine, Paşaeli fermented the 100% de-stemmed grapes in an open top stainless steel tank with close to three weeks skin contact with daily pump overs and punch downs. After the must went dry, they then pressed and racked the wine to barrel, where it matured for about 8 months, with close to a third of new French oak used. Just 85 cases were produced of this very quaffable Karasakiz Old Vine red wine, which is best served with a slight chill and enjoyed in its youth, without much in the way of tannin, it might not be a wine to cellar, so no patience required.

Paşaeli is a family owned Turkish wine estate, quite the rare thing in the country, that was founded by Seyit Karagözoğlu in 2000 and produces quality offerings, enough so to attract the attention of some serious US wine importers, like Marc de Grazia, who is now a personal friend of the winery’s owner Karagözoğlu, and the wines now are available in the States. With the help of Michael & Harmon Skurnik, nation wide US importers, who met Seyit at an event at Vinitaly a number of years ago and now promote his wine to a fine dinning audience through sales to restaurants and unique specialty wine merchants. Turkish wine has a long history, especially in north east Turkey where it has been made for thousands of years, but the western side is just slightly newer, maybe dating back to ancient Greek times, and is now typically made for the resort tourism in this Muslim nation that has a wary eye on alcohol and tries to limit its availability to the general public. In America, you almost never see small estate grown Turkish wine, and nothing of significant quality, mostly you find generic wines that are served at Turkish cultural events. Karagözoğlu, who was born in İzmir, felt, according to the Skurnik brothers, the soil and climate of Turkey were ideal for growing high quality grapes. He discovered Indigenous varieties, like the Karasakiz red grape, planted in the Aegean region made for some very distinctive wines. I found out that like Pinot Noir, Karasakiz, also known as Kuntra, is an early ripening thin skinned grape, though with bigger round berries, which is mainly found in the Trace region as well as, interestingly in Greece. The Aegean region also has other native grapes including Sultaniye and Yapıncak, and Seyit notes that Bordeaux varieties are planted near his birth place in İzmir, all of which play a part in his wines. The Paşaeli wines look to be well-made, balanced, and great value, as I found out here with this Old Vine Karasakis, which was one of the best wines from Turkey I’ve tried to date.
($27 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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