Some people have all the luck. While I’ve been stuck in this miserable excuse for a British summer, eating chicken dippers, working 50-hour weeks, and falling off my heels onto the rainy pavement (not my finest hour), my best friend Kat has been sunning herself in Turkey. Not content with telling me about the amazing food she was eating, it also turns out she thought the Turkish wine wasn’t bad either.
Well, I took solace in the fact that she may think Turkish wine is alright, but I was still fairly sure it was nothing in comparison with the stuff I’ve been fortunate enough to drink at work recently, so when I got the chance to try some Turkish wines today I jumped at it with relish, all ready to prove myself right.
Turkish wine isn’t exactly flying off the shelves in this country, and it’s not surprising when there’s so much competition at all price points from other, better-established countries. But that’s not to say Turkish wine isn’t any good, and – oneupmanship with Kat aside – I was keen to see what they had on offer.
The two I tried were from the Vinkara winery in Kalecik-Ankara. As you can see, the bottles are plain, but I did appreciate the little stamp in the bottom-right corner. It says “This is the time, my love, to pour the wine…”: a sentiment with which I can definitely agree.
Kalecik Karasi 2009. 14.3%.
Apparently, the Kalecik Karasi grape produces some of Turkey’s best wines. The vineyards for this wine overlook the Kizilirmak River – a good site – and this wine is aged for 14 months in 225 litre French Burgundy barrels, then further in wine caves after bottling.
This wine is quite surprisingly light in colour, and is an almost brickish ruby. So far, so okay, but as soon as I took a sniff I was utterly confused: to me, it smells almost like an oaked white burgundy! It had overpowering smoky (almost smoky bacon) aromas, which all but masks the red fruits. The palate follows suit, and I have to admit I wasn’t crazy about this wine on its own. There is some major food potential, though: the smokiness and juicy fruit would make this my absolutely perfect sausage wine. 10/10 for uniqueness, too – this is certainly nothing like any other red wine I’ve tried.
Bogazkere 2008 12%
The Bogazkere grape is indigenous to Anatolia, and is again quite an individual variety. For a wine so light in alcohol, it has quite a deep hue and full body. The nose has a hint of something soapy, but is also packed full of fruit: figs, cherry, and the bitter tinge of blackurrant and even tomato! The palate is unoffensive – fruity, rich and round, and again this jumps out at me as being a perfect food wine: this time, I’d pair it with something like pollo alla cacciatora (Hunter’s chicken) – incidentally, Jamie Oliver has a perfect recipe for this.
I don’t know how much these wines would cost (I can’t currently find UK stockists, unsurprisingly), but if I was cooking something specifically along the lines of what I’ve mentioned above, I’d happily spend a fiver or so on these. Which, in this current climate with wines rising in price all the time, is quite a pleasing prospect.