Haven’t heard of Okuzgozu or Gogazkere? Prepare to be enlightened - Turkey’s wines are slowly gaining international recognition. Top wines aren’t usually something you’d associate with Turkey, but the Turks have been cultivating wine grapes in the Marmara, Aegean, Eastern and Southeastern areas for millennia. Now, a number of wine experts have their eye on Turkey’s wine-growing regions as they anticipate the eastern country becoming the Next Big Thing in wine production.
One winemaker even considers Turkey the birthplace of wine. Californian Daniel O’Donnell travelled to the Anatolia region to discover what he could about the area’s wines. He found endless possibilities.
"Turkey is either the newest Old World wine or the oldest New World wine," he told Reuters. "They've been making wine for 5000 years."
Wait - 5000 years? A little digging yielded the startling discovery that biblical accounts of Noah after the flood have him planting a vineyard near the area where the ark landed. That's supposed to be Mt Ararat, where Buzbag is still made today - presumably with the same grapes Noah used.
O’Donnell was amazed at the winemaking techniques – unchanged for hundreds of years but for the last decade, when Turkey finally woke up to its potential. In the 1990s, the law governing alcoholic beverages relaxed, and small vintners began to make quality wines, using Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Carignan and Alicante grapes as well as local varieties.
Now, Turkey's wines are almost unrecognisable from those undrinkable wines of a decade ago.
"Wine production in Turkey has seen phenomenal development over the last 10 years with major improvements in winemaking techniques and subsequently quality," O’Donnell said. "They're making very balanced wines and some of these will stand up to anything.”
Of course, not every bottle you buy in Turkey is going to be an award-winner. But here are a few tips of what wine producers to keep an eye out for when in Turkey - or maybe at your local supermarket in the not-too-distant future: Buyulubag Vineyards, Doluca Winery, Idol, Kavaklidere, Kocabag, Pamukkale and Vinkara