By Nick Breeze (Twitter: @NickGBreeze)

Modern day Turkey means many different things to many people. The melting pot of Istanbul to the trouble ridden Eastern borders with Syria. There is a great difference in the people depending on where you sup your tea. We travelled to Izmir that sits in the west of the country facing onto the Mediterranean, having come by train and boat from Istanbul, to visit some wineries as suggested by the Turkish wine bureau.

ataturk

turkey-flag

Most people seem very surprised when they hear that Turkey is something like the third biggest wine producer in the world, likely due to the fact that the export market is so small. Especially in the UK where wine retailers list wines from so many countries that we are slightly overwhelmed by the choice and sellers have to be very selective as to who they “let in”. That said, if you read that lovely tome by Hugh Johnson, ‘A History Of Wine’, you’ll quickly find that Anatolia (modern day Turkey) is in fact where we first hear of serious cultivation of vines for wine production. Legends of court ladies eating rotting grapes thinking it will their “quietus make”, only to find out that the acidic bite and zinging fruits offer an unintended therapy for the burdened soul.

Our first appointment was with the Sevilen winery, Turkey’s second in size of production. We were picked up from the hotel by the winery’s hospitable and bubbly marketing manager, Nese. During the 40 minute drive to the winery, Nese gave us a an overview of the winery and how it has been owned by one family whose success has meant new ventures, investment and expansion. The wines, we were assured, were going to impress.

cypresses-glass

At the Sevilen headquarters, a picturesque complex of farm buildings, with vines, receding into a landscape speckled with olive and Italian cypress trees. Part of the complex has been developed into a first floor terrace restaurant with a panoramic view over the surrounds. The restaurant serves very fine fare with a French feel. I had a delicious t-bone steak followed by pumpkin dessert. Excellent food, tasted with a lovely selection of Sevilen wines, against a landscape with such grandeur, was stunning. I urge any visitors to the region to stop be here for at least one meal. 

Turkish wines from sevilen

Through out the meal we tasted a fine selection of wines offered by Sevilen and my favourite was the red from the Plato range, a blend of Syrah and the indigenous grape variety, ÖKÜZGÖZÜ. It was rich and luxurious; a perfect wine to show off with. I hope it finds its’ way to London!

Wine maker

After the second course of food, we left our table, (the wide array of glasses resting in the shade) to head up to higher sloping land where rows of vines were being tended by the vineyard manager. By his own admission, he likes to be out there everyday as overseeing the parcels of land that reach out into the distance, is a full-time passion. The wine producing year is a continual process and with the fruit just now starting to appear (late March), rigorous inspections and praying for good weather are in order, so that they can start picking the white wine grapes at the end of August. 

Towards the end of our meal we were able to have a good chat with one of the original family owners. With obvious passion for his business, he is keen that more people should know about Turkish wines in general. That was a positive message from this trip; bigger wineries are talking to smaller wineries to encourage camaraderie as these producers break out into the bigger world scene. They have to club together and build that awareness. With so many of us choosing to go to Turkey to see culture, sunbathe, business and whatever else, we should certainly be adding “drink the wine” to the list. 

Our top wines from Sevilan:

suavignonIsabey Sauvignon Blanc:

A clean fresh grassy wine that comes to life in the mouth with overt gooseberry fruit against a steely backbone of gorgeous acidity. One to delve into. Available from M&S in the UK I believe for under £10!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isabey Chardonnay 2012

Lovely buttery nose in the Burgundy style. I really enjoyed this and imagine it will be a hit with most chardonnay drinkers. It is really easy to drink and I’d love to have a couple of bottles served with a never ending seafood lunch… yum!

chardonnay

Sevilan Rose 2012

Syrah and cabernet sauvignon

Presented in a stylish bottle with square shoulders, this is a fun snappy summery wine. The blend of syrah and cabernet unleash ripe strawberries and raspberries onto the palate. Chill the wine, throw out the picnic blanket and start pouring. Good fun with a bit of style.

rose

PLATO SYRAH & ÖKÜZGÖZÜ

Grape: %65 Syrah, %30 Öküzgözü ve %5 Petit Verdot

Rich, plummy and luxurious. This is a wine to go with your favourite roast dishes and shared with people you enjoy being with. It has a lovely balanced acidity and good bite of tannin that clears the palate for the next bite of food. It also contains an indigenous variety, Okuzgozu which is grape variety that packs intense ripe fruit with an attractive perfume of…. violets? This wine can easily be aged for 5 - 10 years. Very classy wine… But would a single bottle ever be enough?  

 By Nick Breeze (Twitter: @NickGBreeze)

 Taking care of family business... descendent of the winery business.

 

 

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