The hopeless love of Chamlija's Kara Sevda
What is love? Maybe this bottle is an answer? Kara Sevda translates as 'black love' (perhaps, better even ''hopeless'') and one might expect a very dark, full of anthocyanins and tannins wine but no... love is never that straightforward ;) So let's taste this beautiful Turkish red wine from Chamlija - a producer from the Thracian wine route known as an advocate of local Turkish grape varieties and the Strandja terroir.
A drop of viticulture
Chamlija's Kara Sevda is a Papaskarasi monocepage wine - one variety, one terroir and ultimately one love for the winelovers alike. This grape variety is native to the Balkans and today is grown from Marmara to Central Anatolia. Obviously, resulting in very different wines! As it's very light coloured and has surprisingly little anthocyanins (the colouring compounds found in grape skins) the job of a winegrower is to preserve as much colour as possible to deliver a red wine, not a rose ;) That's why the terroir for Papaskarasi should naturally limit the yields. The best area for it was found in Kirklareli region on the Strandja Massif. It's a mountain range that sets the border between Turkey and Bulgaria. The soil is based on decomposed granites - so in other words, a very poor soil that results in small but concentrated grape bunches.
the terroir for Papaskarasi should naturally limit the yields
Another way of ''helping'' the vine to express the best it can is high density plantings. Competition between vines makes them more disease resistant, helps to grow deep roots that allow access to water even in the dryiest summer months without any irrigation. There is less nutrition available for the vine, which is good in viticulture, because ''overly fed'' vines make huge bunches with balloon like berries. Then all the aromatic and flavour compounds are diluted with water and very little left to enjoy in a glass of wine. Chamlija's plantings' density ranges from 5 000 to 6 666 and sometimes even 10 000 vines per hectare.
Papaskarasi gives wines naturally high in acidity, and with the help of Strandja terroir and the winemaker - rich in tannins and pale to medium ruby colour. Have I unintentionally described the Turkish sister of Pinot Noir?
A drop of history
Scientists believe that this grape variety must be a cross between Prokupac (today's most popular grape of Serbia and Macedonia) and Alba Imputotato. It seems like Papaskarasi has been around from the 5th century and is parent to a very popular in Romania and Hungary grape - Kadarka.
"Papaskarasi" translates as "the priest's black"
"Papaskarasi" translates as "the priest's black" and in Greece it's known under the Kara Papas name. The history of Papaskarasi and Chamlija began when Mustafa Camlica found an old parcel with this grape variety in the mountains. Today Papaskarasi is one of Turkey's most promising vines!
A drop of taste
So let's see how ''hopeless love'' tastes! Kara Sevda, turned out to be full of carnations and violets, very elegant flowery on the nose. On the second sniff I felt raspberries, wild blueberries (those acidic, tiny dark blue berries found only in forests, not on the store shelves). Then the aromas opened up to show us the result of 10 months ageing in French oak barrels - cardamon, cloves and bits of cinnamon. Velvety, very balanced tannins. First you'd think the wine isn't tannic at all, but in fact they're just very balanced and aligned with the overall body, alcohol and acidity of the wine, so they don't stand out, just humbly taking their part on your palate.
And remember, love comes as it is, take it or leave it. So does this wine - unfiltered and unfined. Beautifully suitable for people who want their wine without technological enhancements, vegans as filtering wine often involves usage of animal products, or nursing moms with babies allergic to casein (a milk protein that's also used for wine filtration).
I suggest decanting this wine before drinking or simply leaving an open bottle for a couple of hours or even a day to air - I've got a much more complex wine after leaving it overnight in the fridge closing it with the cork only, no vacuum.
What wine do you associate with love?