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Tasting Chamlija wines - the pride of Turkey

Written on 27-01-2018 by Dusan Jelic, Novi Sad, Serbia

Chamlija's Papaskarasi is beautifully expressive with fresh, lively black cherries and plums on the nose. Supple, juicy, elegant palate with a green herby edge to the sweet black cherry and plum fruit (Jamie Goode)

Chamlija winery is situated near the border with Bulgaria. It was established in 2008 in the region of Thrace when they planted first vineyards. Their first vintage was 2011. The region is under enormous influence of the Strandja massif - a volcanic arc created more than billion years ago and active until some 150 million years ago. As the owner Mustafa Camlica explained, this is a great terroir to grow vines due to extraordinary soils made from decomposed granite with all types of pebbles and clay/limestone terra rossa.




All the vineyards are located in Kirklareli province on the European part of Turkey. The Bulgarian name of Kirklareli is ‘Лозенград' which literally means 'City of Vines', while the Greek name of the city is Σαράντα Εκκλησιές (‘Forty Churches’). The Chamlija winery currently maintains 85 hectares of vineyards. Their plantings are some of the highest density vineyards in the Balkans, ranging from 5,000 to 6,666 vines per hectare, while some vineyards even reaching 10,000 vines per hectare! The goal of high-density planting is to enhance quality and encourage deep root system in order to express the full potential of the Strandja terroir. The monumental Strandja massif has a dominant influence on the Chamlija vineyards soils and the climates!


Let me briefly describe the Chamlija vineyards from north to south in a bit greater detail:


Akoren Vineyards (400m above sea level) (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Kalecik Karası and Narince) Soils: Pinot Noir, Kalecik Karası and Chardonnay are planted on 65 million-year-old fossiliferous limestone and clay. Narince is planted on sand and decomposed granite, 350 million-year-old.

İslambeyli Vineyards (380m above sea level) (Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay) Soils: Chardonnay soil is clay-limestone, while Cabernet Franc is planted on sand, with quartz pebbles and clay.

Poyrali (Parpara) Vineyards (300m above sea level) (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc) Soils: All three varieties are planted on limestone, clay, sand and quartz pebbles.

Poyrali (Duzdag) Vineyards (300m above sea level) (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) Soils: Both varieties are planted on limestone, clay, sand and quartz pebbles.

Poyrali (Kartalkaya) Vineyards (300m above sea level) (Riesling and Chardonnay) Soils: Both varieties are planted on sand, silt and fossiliferous limestone.

Poyrali (Camtepe) Vineyards (280m above sea level) (Merlot) Soils: Merlot is planted on chalk and clay with quartz stones and pebbles.

Poyrali (Dikalan) Vineyards (280m above sea level) (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Papaskarası, Narince, Chardonnay and Alvarinho) Soils: All varieties are planted on quartz stone, fossiliferous clay and chalk.

Poyrali (Karadere) Vineyards (300m above sea level) (Papaskarası, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc) Soils: chalk, clay and quartz stone.

Sogucak-Kurtçatagi Vineyards (280m above sea level) (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Papaskarası, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mavrud, Karaoğlan, Öküzgözü and Boğazkere (trial plot)) Soils: chalk, clay and quartz stone.

Tozaklı (Sarap Yolu Alti) Vineyards (250m above sea level) (Alvarinho and Sauvignon Blanc) Soils: red clay with quartz pebbles.

Sutluce Vineyards (180m above sea level) (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec) Soils: quartz gravels and terra rossa clays.

Akçakoy Vineyards (115m above sea level) (Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc) Soils: limestone and lacustrine silt.

Kuçukkariştiran Vineyards (110m above sea level) (Merlot and Viognier) Soils: quartz sand, clay and lacustrine limestone.


Tasting 10 Chamlija wines in Belgrade, Serbia 


Sauvignon Blanc Quarts Fume 2016

Colour of light gold with a green hue. On the nose lemon, lime, grapefruit, a sort of citrus-dominated aromatics enhanced with a kiss of minerality. Alcohol only 12.5% and is perfectly integrated. Mouth-watering hints of wet stones. Acidity is powerful, fresh and crisp. Lingering aftertaste of peaches, nectarines and fresh herbs underlined with zesty tones of lime and lemon. Quartz Fume is extremely elegant wine. There is something absolutely unique in this wine! Warmly recommended!

(92/100 points)


Alvarinho Rezerva 2015

The wine was matured in 300 litres French oak barrels. It’s a ‘wild wine’ with dark golden colour encircled by a touch of green hue. On the nose subtle hints of orange peel and lime superbly underlined with a hint of lemon blossom. It has a great acidity and well-integrated alcohol of 13.5%. It’s zesty, zingy, zippy, yet smooth and seductive. The only Alvarinho in the Balkans is extraordinary wine indeed!

(90/100 points)


Chardonnay Felix Culpa 2014

This is a Burgundy-style Chardonnay with a touch of pleasing reduction. Subtle notes of oak are superbly integrated. Felix Culpa 2014 is a medium-bodied, elegant wine with 13% of alcohol.  Refreshing peach and grapefruit aromas are nicely lingering with savoury hints of minerality in a pretty long finish.

(89+/100 points)


Albarino & Narince 2016

Alvarinho/Albarino is a ‘wild’ variety with high acidity and could be at times pretty ‘aggressive’. Narince, on the other hand, gives roundness and creaminess to the blend and effectively tames the Alvarinho. The wine has pale straw colour. On the nose I felt charming hints of citruses and pears. The wine ends in lingering aftertaste of lemon, lime and characteristic Strandja minerality. It is a great foodie wine - something sommeliers would appreciate so much!

(89+/100 points)


Viognier 2016

This is a very special wine. At first shy on the nose, but it slowly evolved and rewarded my patience. It feels buttery with touches of peach, apple, and apricot. I picked even a kiss of honey. This Viognier has a superb aromatic complex! The wine is fresh and polished with very good acidity. It ends with a lingering aftertaste of orange peel and lime. Somehow oily, yet superbly fresh and crisp!

(91/100 points)


Kalecik Karasi 2016

The colour resembles Pinot Noir. And the similarity stops there. This wine has a high acidity and high minerality. Obviously these are trademarks of Strandja terroir and Chamlija wines. On the nose one picks lovely scents of black cherries and dark chocolate. The tannins are silky and soft. Wine has powerful lingering aftertaste of intensive red berries.

(88+/100 points)


Pinot Noir Felix Culpa 2014

A very charming rendition of Pinot Noir from the Turkish Strandja region! Subtle scents of wild strawberries took me back to my teen years... Thereafter, black cherries follow as well as hints of cassis on the nose. This Pinot is a very vibrant wine. Seemingly high alcohol of 14% is however superbly integrated. It is a medium-bodied wine with a very long finish with smooth and ripe tannins.

(89+/100 points) 


Cabernet Franc 2014

This wine is an example of a great cool climate Cabernet Franc. The grapes were harvested on October 21, 2014! Medium-bodied wine. Raspberry scents dominate. On the palate I picked dark chocolate, earthly notes, white and black pepper and touches of exotic spices. Alcohol is only 13.5%, acidity 6.5 and pH 3.5! The wine is pretty elegant, silky and refreshing with complex and pleasing aromatics.

(90/100 points)


Istranca (Merlot-led blend) 2014

This is a blend with 70% of Merlot, 17% of Cabernet Franc and 6% of Cabernet Sauvignon. The remaining space was taken by Petit Verdot (7%). 14.5% alcohol is well-integrated. It is deep red wine with aromas of dark chocolate, cherry, blueberry, liquorices and exotic spices. The palate is plentiful of dark berries, liquorices and spices with very long finish.

(90/100 points)


Sui Generis (Nevi Sahsina Munhasur) 2015

Red Cabernet Sauvignon-led blend. It is a full-bodied wine. 15% alcohol is extremely well-integrated. On the nose one picks powerful dark chocolate, liquorices, blackcurrant and raspberry. Thereafter, a second layer comes with hints of truffles, thyme and white pepper. High acidity, as expected from Chamlija, is coupled with powerful and superbly integrated tannins. On the palate I picked subtle earthiness and meatiness enveloped with savoury and sweet spices. The wine ends in a lingering aftertaste of red fruits and exotic spices. Sui Generis 2015 is a very serious blend indeed. It can be enjoyed now but also it shall be cellared as it can further mature and develop for at least another 5-7 years. Not for the faint-hearted! Warmly recommended!

(93/100 points)


In a conclusion I have to say that practically in just 10 years and almost 7 bottled vintages (2011-2017), the Chamlija winery achieved stellar results and with its production of around 100,000 bottles is already considered as one of the finest Turkish and Balkan wine producers. Warm congratulations to Mustafa Camlica and his team, and I wish them a lot of success in the future!