At the inaugural Wines of Turkey tasting in London’s Vinopolis on 24 February 2011 we were presented with a master class by Tim Atkin MW, who had visited the wine regions of Turkey in 1993 for the first time and then in 2010 again.
Tim gave a concise overview of this relatively new wine-producing country. Turkey boasts of some 600 to 800 indigenous varieties, most unmapped for DNA, but based on flavour profile and structure, some are believed to be related to Italian and/or Greek varieties. The large number of varieties means that Turkey is similar to Italy in the sense that every region has their local grape.
Emir is one of the most important indigenous whites, which is grown in the Mid-Southern Anatolia area, mainly on sand, sandstone and decomposed volcanic tuffa, giving fresh wines thanks to the high diurnal temperature variation. Narince is grown in the Mid-Souther Anatolia area of Tokat and enjoys alluvial soils. Its wines are fresh and aromatic. Kalecik Karasi is a red variety grown in Mid-Southern Anatolia, the Aegean and the Mediterranean regions on pebbly clay loam. Its wines are big-bodied, fruity and spice with velvety tannins. Öküzgözü can be found all over Anatolia, it favours clay and chalky soils. It produces deep purple wines with chewy tannins. Bogazkere is grown on decomposed sandstone in Anatolia and the coastal regions. Its wines are complex and fruity.
The country produces only 1% of the global output and a large part of the wines today are still quite oxidised in style. However, there are the new wave wines too, which are of high quality. These are mostly available on the domestic market at price points that would be considered very high from a UK perspective. This has got to do with the 200% hike in the sales tax on alcohol implemented a couple of years ago. The new wave high quality wines include a good number of fresh and crisp wines with fantastic fruits. This is due to the high fluctuation in the diurnal temperature, it can be 30 degrees Centigrade; and the cool nights lead to high acids providing the freshness of the wine.
The contemporary wine industry was started about 10-15 years ago. It is not only production that has a long way to go, but also consumption, which is at less than one litre per capita at the moment.
Tasting notes from the seminar conducted by Tim Atkin MW:
Doluca, DLC Sultaniye Emir 2009 (13%)
Almost watery light lemon. Highly intense nose, lovely fragrancy of rose petals, peach and subdued acacia. Dry, fresh with medium alcohol, light body, aromatic palate with medium concentration. Slightly salty finish. Could be great as an aperitif or with starters. 15.9
Vinkara Doruk Narince 2010 (13%)
Medium deep lemon, some straw. Medium intensity, ripe fruity nose with pineapples, apples, passionfruits and ripe fleshy pears. Dry, crisp, medium alcohol, broad and complex fruity aromatics: pears, quince and seaweed. Saltiness on the back-palate. 15.9
Kavaklidere, Cotes d’Avanos Narince-Chardonnay 2009 (14.5%)
Pronounced lemon, light golden and legs. medium intensity. Oaked nose with ripe apples, acacia and camomile with quince, some limestone on the back. Dry, fresh, buttery and fruits, underlying aromatics and good complexity on the palate. 15.4
Kavaklidere, Prestige Kalecik Karasi 2008 (14%)
Medium ruby, highly intense nose with violets, inky raspberry and mineral undertones. Dry, lively acids, velvety tannins, ripe cherries, concentrated cocoa on the mid-palate, very good concentration and ripeness of the fruits. Medium finish, spicy. 16.1
Likya Wines, Podalia Kalecik Karasi-Malbec 2008 (14%)
Black core, almost garnet/ruby rim. Initially restrained nose, meaty, fruity and violet’s green, plus cocoa. Dry, medium acids and alcohol, concentrated fruits, soft and ripe tannins, cedar, blackcherry compote. Paprika on the finish, medium length. 16.3
Pamukkale Wines, Anfora Öküzögü – Bogazkere 2008 (13.5%)
Purple, dark core. Highly intense blueberries, violet, greenish tones with liquorice and schist. Dry, fresh, medium alcohol, ripe fruits. Slightly gripping tannins, blackcherry, cococa, schist. Very fleshy and fruity. Concentration, intensity and balance. Long. 16.2
Kavaklidere, Prestige Bogazkere 2004 (13%)
Ruby, slightly orange rim. Highly intense nose, plenty of French oak: pine, cedar and also minty with red fruits and orange peels. Dry, fresh, medium alcohol, earthy and gripping tannins, leafy, dried red fruits, lots of cedar and liquorice. Complexity above all, with good balance of tannins and ripeness of fruits. 16.1
Kayra Wines, Imperial Öküzögü Blend 2006
Öküzögü (80%), Bogazkere (6%), Syrah (7%), Petit Verdot (7%) (14%)
Black core, ruby rim. Medium intense nose, blackcherry, liquorice, mint and blueberries. Very concentrated fruits. Dry, high alcohol, fresh, big. Minty, liquorice, gripping tannins, cocoa on the blackpalate with cloves and blackpepper corn. Length and intensity. 16.7
Selendi Wines, Selendi 2008 (13.5%)
Black, garnet rim, almost brown. Subdued, not vibrant nose of ripe, slightly jammy plum and blackcherry with cedar and vanilla. Dry, jammy and concentrated fruits, oxidative notes, cedar and cinnamon. Ripe sweetness (no residual sugar), intensity but not concentration. Weak medium finish. 15.5
Sevilen Wines, Late Harvest Muscat 2009 (13.5%)
Very light golden, watery rim. Highly intense nose, floral: rose petals, yeasty and camomile, honeysuckle and citrus. Sweet, fresh acids, but quite heavy body, medium alcohol, concentration is just fine. Overall less vibrant and lively on the palate than on the nose. Floral explosion, then quick fall, short. 15.5
Other wineries without detailed tasting notes
Doluca – I tasted three wines from Narince and Emir. Watery and low concentration. Average score of 14.5.
Kavaklidere – reliable whites, though not exciting at all. Mainly Narince and Emir varieties, some blended with Chardonnay up to 40%, which seems to work.
Likya – the wines were not clean, tasted two and then gave up.
Pamukkale – light, watery and low concentration.
Selendi – uses international varieties. I tasted one wine, as the other had been finished by then. Very good.
Sevilen – tasted wines from Chardonnay and Sauvingon Blanc. The first was prett good, the latter not very memorable though well made.
Vinkara – the winery to watch. Very good whites and reds with good balance, concentration and aromatics. Consistently high quality.