Text Size:-+
11.06.2012

Let's Talk Turkey

attaturk_statue.jpgThis morning I woke to the sounds of the muezzin's call to prayer on the banks of the Bosphorus. Sleeping in the shadow of the ancient walls of Constantinople and a stones throw from the Hagia Sophia, I dreamed of an olive harvest, but woke before I had the chance to sample my efforts.

Thanks to the folks at of Wines of Turkey, I'm in the country for a couple of weeks to explore and to participate in the European Wine Bloggers Conference, which has decamped to Izmir later this week for their annual symposium.

Today I ate lunch on the back patio of a winemaker's home, overlooking the Dardanelles, savoring slow braised lamb in olive oil and oregano and fluffy rice with currants and pine nuts. Later I walked on the beach at Gallipoli, where tens of thousands lost their lives in fruitless struggle, and then watched the sun set over the Agean.

I'm quite keen to get an inside look into Turkey's burgeoning wine scene, which, despite leaning on thousands of years of history, has really only gotten going in the last 10 years. Before then, like so many other countries whose fertile soils can produce an abundance of grapes, Turkey mostly produced poor quality table wine to be sold cheaply to the masses. In fact, most of the country's production was controlled by the company that happened also to be the largest corporation in Turkey -- a company whose name is quite familiar to those in the wine business: Diageo (who bought much of the originally state-controlled operations).

But in the last decade, efforts have slowly begun, and then accelerated, to producing higher-quality wines that might be recognizable and palatable to those of us who don't buy our wines in gallon jugs.

These are the wines that I am here to taste, with a particular interest in those made from grapes I am only just beginning to be able to pronounce: Kalecik Karasi, Bogazkere , Narince, Öküzgözü, and more. Doubtless I will be tasting a lot of Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc as well, since these are the "famous" grapes that many Turkish customers all but demand most local producers offer up for sale.

This is a wine region very much in its modern infancy, no matter its deep historical roots. For the first time in the past few years Turkey has been looking outside its borders to see who might be interested in its wines.

I am, and look forward to sharing my discoveries with you.

Photo of the statue of Atatürk at the memorial at Gallipoli

Comments (3)

Steve Raye wrote:
11.07.12 at 11:39 AM

Don't forget to take in a haman...Cagaloglu is one you'll recognize because it's often featured in movies.

gdfo wrote:
11.08.12 at 9:00 AM

When you get tired of the wine try some Efes Beer.

Lillian wrote:
11.16.12 at 10:13 AM

hi alder, I visited turkey a few years ago and was fascinated by the Cappadocia area, the ancient caves have the original wine making vats and areas where they fermented their wine. I was also very interested in how the vines are growing so close to the ground and are not in neatly ordered rows, Truly slow-wine, cultivated with donkey pulled plow. Such a special place. Hope you get to visit the area. I recommend a hammam and Efes beer too! - Lillian

Comment on this entry

(will not be published)
(optional -- Google will not follow)
Yes
 

Type the characters you see in the picture above.

Buy My Book!

small_final_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Delectable Flipboard

Most Recent Entries

Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets US 2014 Vintage - Early, Fast, Eventful Vinography Images: Big Shadow Come Explore The Essence of Wine with Me in Healdsburg: October 30th, 2014 Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 5, 2014 Another Idiotic California Law Screws Wineries Vinography Images: Vineyard Reflections The Fake Tongue Illusion and Wine Tasting 2014 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting: October 21, San Francisco Cool Beauty: Tasting the Wines of the Western Sonoma Coast

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 Királyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy

Archives by Month

 

Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.