Likya Vineyard Arkeo Series Merzifon Karasi
The easiest drinking of the Arkeo Series from Likya. What a delight!
In the summer I try to make regular trips from Antalya to the highlands where a small town called Elmali sits. Its 10-15 degrees cooler there than the 40 C heat heat in Antalya, and I have a number of wine growing friends here.
2 of those friends whom I am deeply proud and respectful of are Burak and Doruk, the brothers that oversee the family's Likya Vineyard.
On my most recent visit in July 2022, I was able to sit down and chat with them both and listen as Burak told of how they found up to 20 new grapes and how they are turning those into excellent Turkish varietals. I've previously covered their Acikara, an amazing and delightful darker, richer red which was their first find, but this time I wanted to focus a bit on their Merzifon Karasi.
Both those wines along with Fersun are part of their 'Arkeo' series, short for archeaological. They are grapes that are distinct from any other known variety (as proven by DNA analysis) and many are believed to have been ancient grape varieties that have grown in lesser inhabited areas for centuries. Certainly there are no known written records of these, and likely they were local grape varieties produced by winemakers (mostly Greek) that lived here during the Ottoman period or perhaps by their Byzantine or Roman ancestors. In any case we are much indebted to Burak and Doruk for their hard work to bring these grapes back to our wine glasses.
Merzifon Karasi comes from the Merzifon region in Turkey - near the black sea, with a much milder and gentler climate than most of Turkey. That climatic difference is sensed immediately in the wine. While very fruit-flavored wines aren't uncommon in Turkey most are accompanied by high tannins and minerality and low to medium acidity. Merzifon Karasi has a delightful blend of medium acidity and a strong fruit flavor focused on red berries like raspberry,.. It has a touch of spice to it, perhaps from the acidity.. I would say the flavor is unique in Turkey as it has less earthiness or minerality.
As this is the mid-weight contender in Likya's arkeo series, I find it easier to drink than the lighter-bodied Fersun, which features a bit more dark fruit and tannin. This pairs well with eggplant dishes, and light to medium cheeses, and would fair well with most Turkish vegetable dishes as the fruitiness is distinct. It might not hold up to heavy meat dishes. It could certainly be drunk alone.
In short this one is a delight. I definitely recommend it. In my last taste test it was the winner out of 7 Likya Reds.
Here's a quick video of the beautiful restaurant garden at Likya as well a lovely place to visit.