Monday, 21 May 2018

Icmeler Sea Star and Turkish Wine

We love Sentido Sea Star hotel in Icmeler, Turkey and it seems they love us too as we were again greeted like family not guests. It was lovely to see some familiar faces amongst the staff, especially Melis, Sercan, Sal and Mehmet.

Our previous three visits have been in October but as we missed going last year we decided to book early and see what Turkey is like in May - as beautiful as ever is the answer. You can read about our 2016 and previous holidays by following this link

This year we decided to try more of the Turkish wine but before my reviews here's a few highlights from our amazing stay at Sea Star.
My sofa for the week - I couldn't ask for a better view 
Turkish coffee with Turkish Delight - I loved this set so much we walked
a mile to a kitchen shop - there is now a set at Maison Hearnden
We took a taxis boat to Marmaris - bit of an adventure as it was a choppy day
Hubby enjoying our taxis ride
Turkish Night - delicious food including this superb kebab,
a huge joint of lamb, and of course baklava for dessert
Looking down from our balcony on a la carte night -
the reserved tables are top side of the pool 
Every mealtime is special when you dine here 
All Inclusive at its best - 24 hour and a
minibar in the room 
Pirate Party Ship cruising by 
A huge thank you to all the staff at Sea Star - we had an amazing holiday and will be returning soon.

So ..... Turkish wine ..........

As returning guests there was a bottle of Kulup and dishes of nuts/fruit in our room when we arrived - it's a lovely welcome. We have had this wine before and on previous years have found it more enjoyable when chilled.

Kulup Kirmizi Sek Sarap is a dry red wine made from Merlot and Alicante Bouchet grapes. At 12% it is light for a red and was a young wine being a 2016 vintage.

In the glass it was a light red with tawny edges, it looked very inviting in the Turkish sun.

Aroma wise we both picked up a sawdust smell, rough sawn wood in a saw mill was the image I had. There was a little fruit but nothing specific and a hint of organic/earthiness but not as strong as Cabernet Franc's aroma.

Lovely light tannins with plenty of plums in its flavour. A medium bodied wine with a lengthy finish holding a little spice. Our welcome wine was very much enjoyed - thank you.


Our first supermarket Turkish wine was Buzbag Klasik 2016 - at today's exchange rate just over £5. A wine blend of Okuzgozu and Bogazkere grapes; the first giving the wine its acidity and the second its tannins.

Okuzogzu is pronounced 'Oh-cooz-goe-zue', its fruit resembles a dark round bulls eye, hence the name. It's high in acidity yet low in alcohol with a delicate softness.

Bogazkere means 'throat burner' - not an appealing name for a wine. This grape has high dense tannin, similar to Tannat, however the tannins do balance out with age giving it a complex dense flavour.

Combining these two grapes produced a superb dry red wine which we really liked. A deep red colour with a strong red currant aroma that had a background of spice.

Buzbag's flavour was full of dark fruits and I was expecting full tannins, surprisingly they were light and more to the front of my mouth. It was quite acidic causing our mouths to water but in a very moreish way. It was a little thin in depth which is understandable at only 12.5%.


Thursday night at the hotel is Wine Tasting night - as you'll see from my previous Turkish post it isn't like a wine tasting we have over here, it's a single bottle of rose wine with aperitif glasses for serving.

Dolce Vita produced by Yazgan is a rose wine made from Syrah and Kalecik Karasi. Kalecik is a small village north of Ankara; Kalecik Karasi means 'black from small castle'.

This wine had a beautiful salmon colour with glistening highlights, it's aroma had a little minerality; we both thought of white pebbles. It had peachy highlights in both aroma and flavour, quite dry for a rose with a sharp finish.

As an aperitif this was a delicious wine, I'm not sure I would pair it with food although maybe cheese at the end of a meal.


Our final two Turkish wines were Tellibag Carignan & Okuzgozu and Tellibag Sultaniye & Narince; both around £4.00, both around 12% and both with detailed pencil drawings of vines on their labels.

Carignan is one of our favourite grapes; I'm particularly like French Carignan whereas Hubby likes Carinena from Spain.

There was plenty of known wine grapes on the supermarket shelves; merlot, cabernet sauvignon to name two but we wanted to try different varieties. We chose this red as it was a grape we knew and Okuzgozu we had tried in the Buzbag.

A very different colour to the previous wines, deep crimson in the glass with scarlet edges, very inviting. I was quite surprised however with its nose, my initial thoughts were of an ashtray but not unpleasant. There was also dark chocolate and spice, both characteristics of Carignan.

A sour note hit our palates on initial tasting but this mellowed into dark damsons, cherries with that spice hoovering in the background. Very light tannins with a short finish, we both enjoyed this wine, Hubby more than me maybe.

Tellibag white wine was a blend of two more new grapes to us; Sultaniye and Narince. Pronounced 'sool-tah-nee-yah' Sultaniye in eaten all over Turkey as a fruit but often also used in wine making. It's a very easy eating/drinking grape making it very versatile.

Narince is a grape from central Turkey; its name means 'delicately'. It's grown at a higher altitude in a harsher climate, the terroir originally a river bed thousands of years ago. Narince is also an eating grape.

A beautiful pale pear colour with a floral and quince nose. On the palate there was a freshness of lemon, pear and apple with a subtle minerality. Quite a dry wine but not acidic, it had a slightly syrupy finish giving it  elements of Viognier/Chardonnay.

We had an amazing holiday in Turkey enjoying our hotel and discovering new wines - tesekkur ederim Sea Star

Monday, 14 May 2018

The Barn

Set out in the Warwickshire countryside The Barn is a family run business offering good food and a variety of beers. It was previously a micro brewery and the current owners are brewing again.

The outside is welcoming with ample parking and a wide entrance, I loved the use of pallet wood to make plant holders.
The Barn
The menu has plenty of choice and Chef was very good, making me a green salad with my steak, a beautiful meal. 

For starter we chose the baked camenbert, something I cook at home which we both love. It came with bread and three jams/chutneys; my favourite was the fig and liquorice, absolutely delicious. 
Baked Camenbert
For mains Hubby and I had steak, as I mentioned before mine was with lovely green salad with advocado, brocolli and beans. Hubby's came with a basket of chuncky chips, both steaks were cooked perfectly, more like mini chateaubriand than flat steak.

Our son ordered a burger, great choice with his Pravha beer. It was a sizeable burger too and was also accompanied by a basket of chunky chips. 

Hubby's steak
My super green salad and steak
Son's burger
 Our meals were all very filling, so much so we decided not to have one of the delicious sounding desserts, especially the bread and pudding.

It's a really relaxing in The Barn, open plan with an upstairs mezaine yet it isn't noisy and still has a personal feel when at your table.
The Barn open plan 
Beers on tap
Beer selection
 If you fancy a drive or cycle in the Warwickshire countryside I would certainly plan a lunch stop at The Barn

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Majestic Weston-Super-Mare

The second visit on our Wine Weekend was to Weston-Super-Mare, not to a vineyard but to Majestic Wines. They are one of my favourite wine suppliers with stores across the UK many of which we have visited.

Knowing Majestic hold various wine tastings hosted by their knowledgeable staff I asked Richard, Weston-Super-Mare's manager, if he would arrange a tasting for our group. To our delight and subsequent enjoyment he did just that on Sunday afternoon. 

From the outside a Majestic store looks like any retail outlet but inside a Majestic store is always amazing, this one even more so inviting with a superb tasting table laid ready for our visit. Each place was set with 6 glasses each and in the centre a variety of cold meats, bread and cheese to accompany our wines.

It's always good to begin with a bottle of bubbles, this being said Richard opened a bottle of Graham Beck Brut Rosé NV to start our tasting.  This is a superb Methode Cap Classique sparkling wine from South Africa made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. 

With its beautiful salmon colour, bright fast bubbles it's on par with many rosé champagne. Raspberries and soft summer fruits filled the glass both in aroma and flavour with a slight background of mineral leaving a long enjoyable finish; perfect way to start our afternoon of wine. 

Richard had just returned from visiting Graham Beck in South Africa. The photos he had from his visit were amazing, such a vast lush green vineyard with dramatic mountains in the distance. He explained about how as the business increased the buildings were extended, visable by the shades of paint, the darker being the newest addition. Graham Beck produce only sparkling wine with just two of their range, Brut and Brut Rose, available in the UK. It's an amazing bottle of bubbles at an amazing price - £12.99. 

Following on from rosé bubbles we had rosé wine; I only usually drink rosé when in France but I'm always looking to find one for enjoying in our garden in the summer...... and this could be the one.

It's a Southern French Malbec full of richness, reminding me of the Carmargue.

This is such a fun wine with a great quirky label depicting flamingos  a road trip and an equally quirky name - Zingo. Full of pink sparkle in the glass it had a full nose of inviting summer fruit. Fruity in the mouth too with plenty of raspberries and a light white pepper high note, this medium-dry rosé had a very elegant finish. A bottle is now resting in our rack ready for that English summer day.

Richard had selected new wines for all our tastings: Falaghina from Italy, Tokaji from Hungry, French Morton and Australian Primivito.

As the driver my tasting was limited to a small sip of each wine, and I didn't take notes, so for these reviews I've used Majestic tasting notes (italics) along side my memories.

Falaghina 2016 - this wine has no oak used but being 3 months on less gives it a depth to it's citrus flavour.  A brilliant all-rounder, with plenty of citrussy fruit and faint notes of apple and quince, with the merest hint of nutty complexity. I found it light and crisp and would be lovely enjoyed on its own or with light dishes.

Royal Tokaji Dry Tokaji 2015 - this was much richer in the glass both in colour and density.  This is a wine that is in perfect balance with fine green fruit and herbal flavours complimented by a touch of oak. The finish is long and complex with a crisp cleansing acidity. For me this wine needed food and matched beautifully with the cold meats Richard has provided.

Chateau de Pizay Morton 2016 - this wine split our group as some like Gamay and some are not so sure. This is the grape used for Beaujolais and is not often seen as a named grape - as in this bottle, a Morgon. This top class wine has a nose dominated by blackberries and cherries and a silky smooth palate with fine tannins showing the fruit of Beaujolais and the charm of Burgundy. Being a fan of Gamay I enjoyed this red that was full of fruit with a lovely finish.

Kangarilla Road Primivito 2015 - Richard asked us to guess the grape in our final red, I knew what it wasn't but couldn't name it, mainly because we don't often drink Zinfandel/Primivito and have certainly not had one from Australia before.
Exuberant flavours if fruit cake, stewed rhubarb and scents of wild herbs. This red was superb, especially with mature cheddar which enhanced it's deep fruit, logical really as mature cheddar is amazing with rich Christmas Cake.

Thank you Richard for a superb tasting, we all had a great afternoon and certainly discovered new wines. It was also a pleasure to wander round your well laid store discovering old favourites; purchases made all round we just about had room in our 7 seater BMW for us plus wine.

A really super time, thank you!

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Oatley Vineyard

As part of our Cuvée Reserve Wine Weekend we visited Oatley Vineyard, a small vineyard in Somerset run by Iain and Jane Awry. Until researching the area for our weekend I had no idea this vineyard existed, tucked away in the Somerset countryside.

The lane from the main road was quite narrow with grass up the middle and high hedges but the drive was worth it. The hamlet dates back to 1400s and the farmhouse 1600s, it was so peaceful and unspoilt.

We were enthusiastically greeted by Jack and Benji whose company we enjoyed for all our visit. They were such fun, two brothers together at times carrying the same stick.

Iain and Jane have a hectare of vines growing two main grape varieties; Madeleine Angevine and Kernling. Iain took us up to see the vines in their winter state and explained all about the pruning, the new year's growth which was just appearing, and where the fruit would form. Some vines had been left higher so the frost would not damage the lower branches and some vines were designed to have fruit on higher branches to save the grapes being dinner for the local badgers.

It was so interesting to see how Iain and Jane work hard with nature, using no herbicide and encouraging the wildlife. All around the vineyard you can see nature; the apple blossom just budding, the leaves beginning to burst into leaf and the grass starting to grow.  Working with the environment their winemaker is local and they use a lighter-weight bottles to help keep their carbon footprint low.

Under canvas, with blankets provided and a fire pit lit by Jane to keep off the chilly wind, we enjoyed a tasting of all four wines produced by Oatley Vineyard. Iain's explanation about the grapes, the wine names, the aromas and flavours all added to our enjoyment of each.

Our first tasting was Jane's 2016 was so clear in the glass with such a glisten to it's edges. A very clean wine full of citrus with herbal notes. We all enjoyed this light fresh wine with it's great nose of hedgerow fruits.

Leonora's 2014 was just a clear in the glass but with slightly more yellow in its colour. The nose on this wine had floral notes with a hint of sherbet, its flavour was full of lemon and just a little pineapple.

Our third wine was Elizabeth's 2015 which is made using both grape varieties grown at Oatley, another crystal clear wine but with a green edge, good quality olive oil colour. A fuller wine this had a herby, hedgerow aroma and a richer palate with a warmth to its flavour. This was my favourite wine, it was so smooth with a long elegant finish.

The final wine was Barrel Matured 2015. Iain and Jane have one French Oak barrique and each year produce just under 250 bottles of Elizabeth matured for 5 months in the oak. Each hand numbered bottle had a subtle oakiness with a touch of minerality. A more complex wine but for me again its cleanliness stood out.

We had taken a picnic along which we enjoyed with the remaining wine, much appreciating the blankets and fire pit. Undecided on which wine we preferred a bottle of each was purchased, I'm really looking forward to enjoying Oatley Wine in our garden this summer, remembering the peace and tranquility of this beautiful English vineyard in Somerset.

Thank you Iain and Jane, it was a pleasure to visit your vineyard and discover your superb wines.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Glastonbury and Wells

I did it .... I got to the top of Glastonbury Tor !

Not the easiest of climbs on a very windy day, a great laid path of steps winding it's way to the top. I tried to step up continuous to use both leg muscles but stepping up left first is still difficult.

Coming down was harder as I cannot lead with my left, there is not enought bend in my ankle so it was one step at a time.

Such great views from the top across the Somerset plains - the rain could be seen travelling across but thankfully we just got caught in a light drizzle.

Huge thanks to my Hubby for being my handrail up and down, as with many things I could not have done it without him.
It's a long way up (and down)
My fab Hubby
At the top with Hubby & Agnes
With Dave and Agnes
such a great view
At the top !!
We also visited Wells Cathedral, a stunning building that is so clean inside it looks new but is hundreds of years old.
Wells Cathedral 
It looks modern but is
hundred of years old
Beautiful tapestry coat of arms
on panels and cushions
Oldest working clock
Visiting Wells Cathedral
 A super day out with our friends; climbing the Tor was a fantastic feeling putting last year firmly behind me!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Burnham & Bristol

Burnham-on-sea is the destination for this year's Cuvèe Reserve Wine Weekend ..... yes I know it's only Wednesday but Hubby and I along with our friends who are also members decided to make it a week!

This time we're caravaning instead of renting a large house, it's lovely sitting on the decking watching the visitors pass and enjoying a glass of bubbly.

Yesterday we took a stroll around the town, very seasidey with plenty of fish and chip shops, a great rock shop and of course  inflatables hanging up outside the bucket and spade shop!

We walked to the top of the town to The Crafty Teacup Cafe  - a superb cafe decorated in a very crafty style. Our table was amazing.

Just across the road from the cafe is the town's church with a very unusual tower, it's not attached and looking straight at the main door you can see it's leaning too. The locals didn't seem to be bothered, they had set up a lovely home.

Today we've had a trip into Bristol; on the way in we had a great view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and a glimpse of the SS Great Britain.

In Bristol we visited the Cathedral and Avery's - no surprise really that this is a wine shop. We did buy a couple that caught our eye, we could have bought more especially if we had bigger wallets as some were quite pricey.

On our way back we crossed the Clifton Suspension Bridge, it is a toll bridge but only £1. Finding a handy layby we were able to stop and take a stroll a little way along and pop into the Visitor Centre. It's surprising how high it is and amazing in its construction nearly 150 years ago.

What a great start to our Cuvèe Reserve holiday, we have enjoyed a few wines but I'll be blogging about those when we get home as I can then use my laptop - this was blogged by phone !