When I think of rosé wines, the first place, or even the 10th place, to spring to mind isn’t Turkey but that is where this week’s bottle was produced. Çalkarasi (Chal-kara-see) is a red grape indigenous to the Çal district of the Denizli province. It is located about 330 miles south of Istanbul in western Turkey. The grape’s name translates to mean ‘black of Cal’. The grape achieves ripeness with a significant level of acid still remaining and can also attain a high sugar content. It can be used in the production of red still wines or rosés. It can also be used as a blending grape for other wines or as a distillate in the national drink of Turkey, raki.
This week I drank a 2020 Çalkarasi rosé from Paşaeli Winery in the Aegean region of Turkey. Paşaeli is a family owned winery that opened in 2000 by Seyit Karagözoğlu. Seyit grew up in nearby Izmir and worked as a wine importer for over 10 years prior to going back to his agricultural roots to begin his own winery. The Çalkarasi was a light salmon color with a mild petulance that created a slight layer of foam that swirled on the surface upon pouring my glass. Aromas of fresh peaches, ripe strawberries and raspberries as well as juicy watermelon and cantaloupe. These scents took me to warm spring and summer days, while I watched the snow accumulate from my dining room window. I could feel the warmth of the sun as I sampled this dry wine. It did still have a small amount of sugar but it was less perceptible due to the high level of acid. The wine was fuller bodied than I had anticipated, likely due to this sugar and the effervescence. I could taste peach o’s candies on the front palate, grapefruit pith and ripe raspberries on the mid palate and strawberry Jell-O on the finish. This wine was bright and lighthearted, which was a perfect counterbalance to the short wintery days.