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Discover the Thrace Wine Route in Turkey - Chateau Gali

The next winery I visited in Trakya, or let's say it properly, on the Thrace Wine Route, was Chateau Gali. The word means beautiful, precious, and this is exactly the way they treat their vines and produce great Merlot-focused wine. If we are about to compare Gali's philosophy to Bordeaux - this is definitely the Right Bank, where Merlot is the protagonist.

Marmara sea view from Chateau Gali vineyard in Thrace wine route
It's not easy to get on top of the hill with the vineyards but once there you understand it's worth the view

Bordeaux varieties and the Doğan Arslan terroir

Another courageous man (because without courage one doesn't start a winery in Turkey) - Hakan Kavur ended his career in engineering to start a winery on Gallipoli peninsula. He and his wife acquired 48 hectares of extremely difficult to manage, but heavenly beautiful slope. The vines are lucky to have the best sights of the Dardanelles, Marmara Sea and Saros Channel. Haven't I told you... great wines are made in beautiful places!

great wines are made in beautiful places!

I was so lucky to meet him in person and ensure that his intentions are all about making a wine of place, expressing the unique terroir of Doğan Arslan. He makes the wine on his own (and has two helpers in the winery) because it would be such a shame to hire an enologist and treat this precious venture just as an investment. Gali means precious and the more effort you put into it, the more you love it..

Gali Vineyards

Perhaps I've never seen such a red soil... One thing is that its' clay, but this clay is full of magnesium and iron, all set on a limestone bedrock. Hard to cultivate, what am I saying, even hard to drive up to these impressive 24 ha vineyards located at a height that you literally see the entrance to Dardanelles.

This is a mono-cépage vineyard, which means the majority (78%) of land is covered with a single variety - Merlot. Three prestigious clones were brought from Bordeaux to express themselves in this Mediterranean climate. The rest is Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and some recent plantings of Viognier. It's hot, extremely sunny, but luckily the sea breeze blows from all the directions. The hill is located just in between Saros Channel, Marmara Sea and Dardanelles. Vines are not irrigated, left on their own to express, not alleviate, what we call vintage variation and the terroir. Every year is different here, which is a good reason to return and re-taste :)

World War II military bunkers at Gali Vineyards in Trakya Thrace Wine Route
one of the WWII bunkers right next to the vineyard

One more important thing to keep in mind - it was a strategic military location and for WWII many bunkers were built in the area (although they were never used). Some of them are on the territory of the vineyards and if you're lucky enough you might get a chance to visit them.

In the winery