Master Winemaker: Mustafa Çamlica, owner, Chamlija
To celebrate the talent of the winemakers who have scooped the highest accolade of the drinks business’ Global Masters tasting series, db has published a second edition of The Master Winemaker 100, our guide to the artists at the pinnacle of winemaking. We talk to Mustafa Çamlica, who owns Turkish winery Chamlija about what inspires him.
Originally from Bulgaria, the Çamlica family has been farming around the small Turkish town of Buyukkaristiran since 1935. Mustafa Çamlica has led the transition to viticulture since 2011, now cultivating 90 hectares with a mix of international and local Turkish varieties. The Strandja mountain range is a major influence here, both in terms of soil and climate.
What or who inspired you to become a winemaker?
As a son of a farming family, I wanted to be different to my father and grandfather, who were not in the winegrowing business. In addition to this, my homeland Kirklareli (Strandja Mountain region) once upon a time during the Ottoman period was the number one wine-producing area, both in terms of quality and quantity. Hence, I want to make my homeland again a top viticulture area for fine wine production.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Dealing with both late spring frost (it could be as late as 10 May) and early autumn frost (it could be as early as 5 October in some vineyards). And hail damage. Otherwise, we are fine…
What’s your go-to drink at the end of a long day?
A cold Riesling.
What advice would you give your younger self?
The best advice I have ever had: ‘’Hold your horses, young man.’’
What was your greatest winemaking mistake?
Too many. One of our brands even refers to mistakes: Felix Culpa. We see it as an opportunity to improve ourselves. Hence, every vintage we try something brand-new and we learn and improve from those mistakes. Perfection comes from mistakes we made in the past.
Which wine-related achievement are you most proud of?
I am most proud of our Papaskarasi grape and wines. Once it was the top wine grape of Turkey and it was a top wine in Ottoman times, mainly produced in Strandja. It was almost forgotten in the last 40 years or so. Now, I gave a rebirth to the grape and the wine.
Who is your inspiration in the wine world today?
Christian Moueix of Petrus has been my inspiration since 2004, when I met him and his wife in Istanbul. Great winemaker. Great viticulturist. And great terroir believer.
Where would your fantasy vineyard be?
My fantasy vineyard would be on the northern slopes of Strandja among oak trees. Now there is no vineyard there.
If you weren’t a winemaker, what would you be doing and why?
Probably I would be a farmer growing sunflowers, rape seed, wheat and barley as my father and grandfather did.
Which wine (grape/style) do you find it impossible to get along with?
Most difficult is Pinot Noir. In the vineyard and winery you have to be very careful.
How has your taste in wine changed over your career?
At the beginning, my taste was toward big-style wines. Now I have moved to a more elegant taste.
Which type of wine do you drink most regularly?
Which wine would you most like to drink, and who would you share it with?
Probably Château Latour 2010 with friends and my family.