Turkish wine! A completely undiscovered area for me, until last week. Guney from Guneys delight, Turkish wine store on the Utrechtsestraat in Amsterdam invited me to get acquainted with the special wines that Turkey is rich in. A wine country that, despite a very long wine history, is too often forgotten. This must change, says Guney, young winemaker of Turkish origin.
History of Turkish wine
Turkey is one of the oldest wine countries in the world, traces of viticulture date back to seven thousand years. From the twelfth century to the early 1900s, the Turkish empire was in the hands of the Ottomans, although the consumption of alcohol was not officially allowed, viticulture was tolerated among the non-Muslim minorities.
When the Turkish Republic was founded in 1923, there was an abundance of vineyards. However, there was a great shortage of winemakers. Ataturk wanted to change this and sent winemakers to France and Italy to gain knowledge. This resulted in the planting of French and Italian grape varieties and the oblivion of the autochthonous Turkish varieties.
Until the 1970s, the Turks became accustomed to the imported grape varieties and forgot about their own wines. The emergence of small boutique wineries slowly changed this. French varieties were uprooted on a small scale and replaced by indigenous grape varieties. This is an upward trend. You see more and more Turkish wines made from Turkish grape varieties, thus Turkey is slowly regaining its wine identity. Today there are 180 registered wineries and there is a real renaissance of Turkish wine. Guney is very proud of this and wants to show Europe all the beauty that Turkey has to offer.
Tasting of Turkish wines
During my visit to the store, I tasted a variety of Turkish wines. The overarching feeling I got from this is “special”. I tasted beautiful wines that I wish would one day get a bigger stage. A better world starts with yourself and from today I will therefore call myself an ambassador of Turkish wine! Let’s see together what I tasted so I can inspire you to reach for something new.
We travel to Bodrum, the sunny southwest of Turkey. The wine in my glass is the Volante – Bornova misketi (Turkish Muscat grape) from the winery Mor Salkim. The style is aromatic, the typical scent of grapes drifts from my glass. Fresh grapefruit, some mint. Lots of floral aromas. The wine has crisp acidity and despite the sweet aromas a nice dry finish. This is a wine you drink on a terrace or as an aperitif, add a soft cheese to it and the evening is complete.
On to Capadoccia, a place known for the thousands of hot air balloons that fly there every day, but where they also produce great wines. The soil here is volcanic, which for me is always a big plus. We taste the Vindimia Defne – made from the Emir grape from winery 7 Bilgeler. The wine has a sweet and sour profile with aromas of yellow apple and pear, lots of lemon, a creamy note of yogurt. A juicy wine with a completely unique character. Pair this with a light fish dish or seafood.
The rosé we are tasting comes from the southwest of Turkey near the town of Denizli. The Büyükbag Calkrasi (grape variety) is made by winery Akberg. This is certainly not an ordinary rosé. A beautiful colorful bottle and an even more colorful nose. Cranberry, raspberry and strawberry. Cotton candy. A salty touch. Despite the light color, this is a rosé with spice. Very gastronomic with a long finish. Delicious with grilled chicken and duck.
On to the reds. We start with a wine from Edine, Turkey’s northernmost wine region, close to the border with Bulgaria. The Büyükbag Papazkarasi (grape variety that translates to black priest) is a very special wine. Guney calls it an erotic wine. Let’s see why! The wine stands out for its spiciness, in addition to black, red and blue fruits, a distinct note of black pepper can be recognized. I smell incense, perfume. Rosehip syrup. The wine is very juicy, has a nice tannic structure. A unique wine that is definitely different from what I have tasted so far. What to eat with this? A good piece of red meat or grilled mushrooms.
The next wine we taste comes from Elazig in southeastern Turkey. Made by the winery Eskibaglar. The grape is called öküzgözü. The grapes come from 1400 meters altitude and have a thick skin. This is a firm wine that ages well. Aromas of red fruit, jam, sweet cherry and eucalyptus. A high alcohol content, firm tannins, a real food wine. Pair with red meats, hearty cheeses or a romantic evening by the fireplace.
The last wine is a wine from a French grape. Still many Bordeaux blends are produced in Turkey, most of them are of very high quality. So is this wine from Chateau Nuzun, made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Thrace region is located in the northwest of Turkey. A beautiful wine made by a female winemaker who, according to Guney, does not realize how special her wines are! The wine is voluptuous and harmonious. Spicy. A strong backbone of acidity. A fleshy juicy wine with intense tannins. Drink this with the main course. Fantastic.
This article is made possible by Akberg Holland.