Turkey is positioned to be the next “break out” country for wine lovers. It has 800 different indigenous grape varieties and its wine growing regions are situated at the same latitude as Napa Valley.
A Taste Tour of Exotic Turkey
For most US wine drinkers, when they think of exotic wine, it might be something that isn’t from California. Or perhaps it is from Chile.
Chances are that Turkey is not top of mind when thinking about wine. Like us, you’d probably be surprised to learn that Turkey ranks 6th in the world in total grape production and Turkish wine has won more than 1,000 medals in wine competitions around the world during a recent three-year span.
We recently had our first exposure to Turkish wine and liked what we tasted.
How About A Glass Of “Throat Burner?”
During a recent online tasting, we had the chance to pop open a bottle of Boğazkere, one of most popular native grapes in Turkey. A back-up wine was standing by – just in case. We weren’t too reassured when we learned that the nickname of Boğazkere is “throat burner.”
Out to the patio this bottle went as we lit up a fire pit for perhaps the last time this season. As I sipped the Boğazkere, my eyes started to water and I began to choke… however, that was because the smoke from the fire decided to blow directly into my face.
Not sure exactly what my excuse was, but I didn’t decant this wine as I had planned. The first few sips had a harshness, and I thought to myself, “someone gave this wine its moniker for a reason.” But as we continued to drink, the wine transformed.
We Discover A Finely Crafted Turkish Wine
Yazgan is one of the oldest and largest wine producers in Turkey. Its vineyards are located near the Aegean Sea. Boğazkere (pronounced bow-aahs-KEER-ee) is known to produce full-bodied wines with firm tannins. The Yazgan Boğazkere is inky and dense, reminding me of Tannat from Uruguay.
Like Cabernet Sauvignon, it is a thick-skinned grape that ripens late. In its youth, Boğazkere is very robust, but it ages well and develops complex flavors.
As logs crackled and we refilled our glasses, we discovered a completely different wine than when we began. The wine had fresh fruit perhaps because of aging in stainless steel. It offers a lively acidity with a trace of exotic earthiness underneath. It was well balanced and finished with a note of candied cherries.
The tiki torches and half moon peeking through the autumn leaves provided a fitting backdrop for our tasting of this exotic wine. This isn’t the “throat burner” but the “throat quencher.”
Wine historians believe that the southeast part of Turkey was the origin of grape domestication, dating back to 9,000 BC. We’re a little late to the game, but are now fully onboard the Turkish wine bandwagon.
Full disclosure: We received this wine as a marketing sample.