Wine’s rising star, Turkey
Turkey is a bridge between Europe and Asia. A peninsula spanning from Asia toward the Mediterranean sea. A mosaic of different religions and cultures. Colorful, alive, constantly changing and chaotic. For some, it is a synergy of Western and Eastern values, for some an intercontinental traffic accident.
The land of Leyla Gencer, Nazım Hikmet, Yaşar Kemal, Metin Erksan and Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar.
The most consumed alcoholic beverages in Turkey are beer and rakı. The average amount of wine consumed in one year by one person is 1 liter.
Turkey has 465,000 hectares of land suitable to planting grapes. There has been a vineyard culture in Anatolia since 3500 B.C, and it is known that winemaking was especially advanced during the Hittites.
There are approximately 1500 grape varieties in Turkey, among them 34 are suitable for wine making. Although Turkey is the world’s 4th largest producer of grapes, most of the grapes produced are table grapes. Only %3 of the grapes produced are used in wine making. Which ranks Turkey 43rd in terms of wine production, behind such countries as Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Slovakia. Albeit this low ranking, the last 20 years have shown a period of modernization, similar to Chile and Argentina, such as: The understanding of the importance of terroir, site selection, canopy management, improvements in hygiene, the introduction of stainless steel tanks, the widespread use of American and French oak casks and the hire of experienced foreign wine-makers. All these developments have led to a observable increase in quality. In spite of these improvements, official figures show that annual wine production is still at 120 million liters. Most export is done to Belgium and Germany, and the annual export volume is 9 million dollars, as of 2011. This is a very low figure, and is under the DPT 9th Development Plan projections.
Although most areas of Turkey are suitable to planting grapes, the most suitable vineyard areas are Trakya in the Marmara region, İzmir and especially Denizli-Güney in the Aegean region and Kapadokya in central Anatolia.
Trakya has a Mediterranean climate. Important indigenous grape varieties in this region are, Adakarası, Beylerce, Papazkarası and Yapıncak.
Over half of the wine produced in Turkey comes out of the Aegean region. Also influenced by the Mediterranean climate, this region is home to indigenous grape varieties such as Bornova Misketi, Çalkarası, Çavuş, Foça Karası, Karalahna, Karasakız, Vasilaki, Sultaniye, Urla Karası, as well as international grape varieties.
In Anatolia, the prevailing climate is continental, though there may be some variations according to the area. Anatolia is home to indigenous grapes such as Dimrit, Dökülgen, Emir, Narince, Horoz Karası, Sergi Karası, Kabarcık, Kalecik Karası, Rumi, Hasandede, Öküzgözü and Boğazkere.
International grape varieties in Turkey: Mostly Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah. In lower quantities; Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Mourvedre, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Semillon, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Chenin Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Viognier, Gamay, Cinsault and Carignan.
Important indigenous grape varieties:
Emir: Grows in Kapadokya. Emir is a light green grape variety which produces wines with high acidity and low-medium body. Wines made from Emir have mineral notes, apple, pineapple, melon, kiwi and lemon aromas and flavours.
Kalecik Karası: Grows in Kalecik, a province of Ankara. Although the region has a continental climate, the microclimate created by proximity to the Kızılırmak River has an important effect on the grape’s character. The Kalecik Karası is a dark red, thick skinned grape and it produces wines with high acidity, low-medium body and low tannin. Wines made from Kalecik Karası have raspberry, cherry, cotton candy and strawberry aromas and flavours. It is similar in taste to Pinot Noir.
Narince: Grows on the banks of the Yeşilırmak River and Tokat. This region is located between the Black Sea and Anatolia, and the climate is continental. Narince is a thin skinned, yellow-green colored grape; and it produces wines with medium body and medium acidity. Wines made from Narince have aromas and flavours of lime, pear, pineapple, apricot; and floral and mineral notes. It can be aged.
Öküzgözü: Grows in Elazığ, Malatya and Kapadokya. It is a fat grape with a dark black skin which likes the continental climate. It produces wines with medium body, high acidity and medium tannin. Wines made from Öküzgözü have aromas and flavours of raspberry, dark fruits, blueberry, mint, clove and cinnamon. It can be also grown as a table grape. When blended with Boğazkere, it is effective in softening Boğazkere’s firm tannins.
Boğazkere: Grows in Diyarbakır (in a hot and arid climate). It is a late ripening, dark and thick skinned grape variety, and it produces medium-full bodied, high tannin, low-medium acidity wines. Wines made from Boğazkere have aromas and flavours of raspberry, cherry, fig, white pepper, black olive, spices, tobacco, leather, dark chocolate and liquorice. It is likened to Tannat, and is often blended with Öküzgözü. It can be aged.