Houn Hooke SMH review on Sevilen Wines from Turkey
“As an omnivore, and a woolgrower’s son, you might think I’d have tried eating sheep’s testicles by now. But it took an unlikely Turkish wine tasting to get me over that hurdle.
The event was at Efendy restaurant in Balmain, and the wines were from the Sevilen winery at Izmir, on the Aegean coast in western Turkey. The proprietor of Efendy, Somer Sivrioglu, is a long-time friend of the man who runs the Sevilen estate today, Enis Guner. They went to school together.
Efendy carries the Sevilen label on its restaurant wine list and brought Guner out from Turkey to conduct what it billed as the first Turkish wine event in Sydney, at Efendy. It was Guner’s first trip to Australia.
We tasted eight Sevilen wines set to a six-course menu created by Sivrioglu. It was an excellent meal and the wines wholly surprising.
Turkey is one of the world’s oldest wine-producing countries and has more than 100 wineries.
“Wine has been produced for more than 5000 years in Turkey,” Guner says.
It is a predominantly Muslim country but it’s a secular state and more than half the population drinks alcohol. Locals and visitors are permitted to drink.
“In the Ottoman empire, the Turks and foreigners were allowed to have wine,” he says.
“In 1926, the first winery was established after Turkey was created. The Turks drink a lot of wine but also even more beer and raki [a spirit similar to ouzo]. And they drink it with food.”
Guner says tourists are a big market for wine. “Over 25 million people visit Turkey each year, and they drink wine.”
Partly because of this, the wines have to be up to world standard, which means wineries have access to all the modern viticultural and winemaking techniques and equipment.
Guner has lived in the United States, where he studied oenology and viticulture at the University of California.
He is the third generation of his family to run Sevilen, which was founded by his grandfather in 1942.
Today, Sevilen has a modern winery and restaurant, and 150 hectares of vines in the Aegean area (low-altitude and coastal) and the Anatolian Plateau in inland central-eastern Turkey which, at an altitude of 900 metres, is cooler.
I was impressed at the quality. The white wines, which are always a test of viticultural and winemaking prowess, were clean and fresh and technically very good. Like the reds, they are made from both indigenous and ”international” grape varieties. The first wine we tasted, 2013 Isabey Narince (narince is a native grape) is a fresh, fruity, modern white wine with bright, slightly herbal fruit and low phenolics, moderate 13 per cent alcohol and no oak. It was well suited as an aperitif, and also went well with the first course of beetroot, sultana, coriander and smoked yoghurt. A 2012 Fume Blanc ”900” showed subtle barrel-fermented characteristics, lovely balance and a clean, refreshing finish, the oak deftly handled. I rated this 90/100.
I was slightly less enamoured with the 2012 Plato chardonnay, which was certainly good – cashews and tropical fruits – but nothing out of the box in a world awash with similar chardonnay.
A 2011 Guney Kalecik Karasi was a light coloured, unwooded red wine, with attractive spice and dried-plum aromas, light tannins and good drinkability – not unlike a pinot noir. It was made from growers’ fruit. Kalecik karasi is an indigenous grape.
We also tried a very good 2010 Centum Syrah and a 2011 Petit Verdot ”900”, the last being an excellent wine, as good as you’d find in Australia, with dark berry fruit, fine soft tannins: ripe, balanced and very enjoyable. 91/100.
And what about those lambs’ testicles? Well, they were quail’s egg-sized oval objects, lightly crumbed and I’d guess pan-fried, and had been flavoured with spices and accompanied by a sauce described as almond tarator. Quite tasty but I didn’t go back for seconds.” Huon Hooke SMH July 1st 2014
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Porcini Risotto w/ Fresh Truffles
- Heat the chicken stock, keep on a low heat. Pour a little boiling water over the dried porcini.
- Melt half the butter in the pan, sweat off the eschalottes with salt. Add the rice, stir till coated. On a high heat, add the wine, cook till completely evaporated. Turn down the heat to medium. Add a ladle full of the hot stock at a time, cooking out each ladle till evaporated (this will take 15 mins). This stage cannot be rushed, the more TLC given, the tastier the risotto!
- Fry off the mushrooms with the thyme, till they start to soften, season with salt & pepper. Add these, along with the dried porcini to risotto half way through the cooking time.
- Risotto is done when rice is al dente (it must still have a little bite to it). Add the parmesan, remove from the heat, and beat in the cold butter.
- Shave the truffle over the risotto once plated (do not cook), and serve.
If you have any truffle left over, store in an airtight container in the fridge with a few eggs. Scramble for breakfast with plenty of cream, and shave over remaining truffle.
250g Vialone Nano
Glass white wine (whatever you’re drinking)
1L good chicken (or vegetable) stock
3 French eschalottes
25g dried porcini
200g fresh porcini or fresh wild mushrooms
50g cold butter
50g Parmigiano Reggiano
20g fresh truffle (keep stored with the rice in an air-tight container in the fridge)