Most people’s contact with the great nation of Turkey, if it’s not with the fascinating megalopolis that is Istanbul, comes at it’s gorgeous, long, craggy Aegean coast that has deep blue seas, and green seaside hills studded with everything from ruined castles to stately, typically Turkish hip-roofed mansions, overlooking impossibly quaint but absolutely real fishing villages, all with their own little harbor bobbing with brightly painted boats.
Forget about that Turkey. Peel yourself off the beach, and fly much further east and angled a bit north to the somewhat more austere(more than somewhat, actually) but eerily beautiful, rugged upland region of Cappadocia. This region was the homeland of the ancient Hittites, making it a truly ancient place with a millennia-deep culture, and this depth is as clearly demonstrated at the Cappadoccian table as anywhere. Geographically this central Turkish region is an undulating fabic of black and grey stone hills, thick forests, abandoned Byzantine churches, and even multiple underground cities …
And prior to 1453 (the fall of Byzantium), much of what is now Turkey was surely covered with hundreds of vine varieties, but unfortunately the new Ottoman landlords were teetotal, and favored the cultivation of roses over grapes anyway, so over time much of Turkey’s viticultural patrimony was lost. But that said, a fair bit has survived, and the white variety Emir from the town of Nevsehir is one of the survivors. And indeed Emir’s great ability to produce consistently well at high altitudes is a testament to its connection to this haunting highland region.
Since I don’t often (hardly ever) have at hand white Turkish wine, I tend not to cook from the great battery of Turkish fish dishes, so here was my chance…but to start at the start, I fried up some sigara boregi (minted goat cheese-stuffed pastry rolls) and then the marine main course: flounder poached in a Turkish-style cort bouillon, cooled, and then bathed in a thick, silky lemon, olive oil, bread, and almond sauce, served at room temperature,with a allspice and cinnamon spiced eggplant and pine nut pilaf to accompany.
Kavaklidere Emir de Nevsehir “Cankaya” 2010
Bright, medium gold color. Cheery and slightly exotic nose of Anjou pear, mixed citrus fruits, soused sultana raisins, yellow cherries, pine sap, and a hint of warm, clarified butter. The body is medium-full, with a discreet but very firm acidity wrapping a fairly rich and unctuous core with flavors of vanilla, ginger, bitter herbs, candied fennel, sweet and sour plum, lime, and boiled white corn. Quite long.