Posted by: tomciocco | July 16, 2013

TURKEY MAKES WINE – ANATOLIA SO

Yes, it’s true, the Turks make wine. This is a nation that is 99% Muslim and therefore largely teetotal, and for those citizens that do drink, most of them slug down glass after little glass of raki, the sweet, anise-flavored spirit that gets diluted with water to turn it a milky white color, and that perfunctorily accompanies the traditional spread of little appetizer plates called meze. Despite what is an undoubtedly ancient viticultural tradition, most Turks don’t drink their own oenological produce, but rather send it abroad.

The Kavaklidere Winery, which is the source of this evening’s wine, farms six very large plots in various regions of the country, with this particular white emanating from the Cappadocia region in central Anatolia, near the eastern edge of the Aegean. This area is a high, semi-arid plateau, with the vineyard sites situated at over 3,000 feet above sea level which means very hot days, and very cool if not cold nights, even in the height of the summertime, and the soil in this region is a very well-drained, chalky/volcanic mix, very low in organic matter which ultimately means wines with lots of edge and structure.

And though Kavaklidere also raises lots of rows of “International” grape varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and even Tempranillo in Cappadocia and at their other locations as well, they have the great good sense to nurture quite a few native Turkish grape varieties, both red and white, with this particular blend is made up of 35% Narince, 35% Emir, and 30% Sultana. Narince, Emir and Sultana are all local cultivars, but unless you’re a trained oenologist with a specialty in Anatolian viticulture, the first two varieties are obscure beyond all obscurity, but the name Sultana might look somewhat familiar. Where from? Think small, yellow cardboard box…OK, I’ll spill it…RAISINS! The Sultana variety is THE variety used to make all those packages of shriveled, sweet fruit gems.

This is an almost thoroughly modern, “European”-style wine. But to minimize the word “almost” would be a bit of a mistake. Though this is not the sort of wine that would shock a contemporary palate, it isn’t quite comparable to anything that I can think of from Italy, France, Portugal, etc. and that’s just the way it should be. It’s Turkish.

As usual, I took a regional approach by pairing this nifty Turkish white with a Turkish menu consisting of a first course of a stew of green peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and Turkish red pepper flakes, served at room temperature, followed by another stew-like melange of chunks of chicken, okra, potatoes, chick peas, lemon and orange juices, garlic, and dried mint.

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Kavaklidere Cankaya White Central Anatolia-Aegean 2011

Pale “white gold” color. Clean and elegant nose of pear, apricot, ground white spices, ground pignoli nuts, vanilla, and a slight perfuminess underlying. The medium-light body is “tight” with a vivacious, minerally acidity, with a subtle but unmistakeable unctuousness at the base and flavors of lime, white currants, applesauce, with secondary notes of mixed aromatic herbs. The wine finishes with an admirably long and dry pleasantly bitter finish.

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