Friday, October 10, 2014

The Cradle Of Wine

It has been a little quiet on this blog recently. This is because I am currently travelling around the Black Sea. Wine is believed to have originated from Mesopotamia, or what is today eastern Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, maybe 6000 years ago. I  tasted wines in Turkey and Georgia. Both countries have a bewildering array of indigenous grapes, more than 500 in each country. Not all are made into wine.

I was generally impressed with Turkish wines. Maybe they will go the way southern Italian wines have gone or even Greek varieties are going, although it will require a fair bit of investment. I enjoyed a white wine variety called Emir from Central Anatolia. This is a light, dry wine, with green apple and citrus flavours, minerality and an acidic finish. A well known red variety is Kalecik Karasi. Wines from this variety are medium bodied and quite elegant, similar to Tempranillo, I find. I was more impressed with Öküzgözü, another variety from Anatolia. This variety is often blended with Bogazkere. The idea is the same as with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends. Öküzgözü is a large grape, which produces a soft and elegant flavour, Bogazkere provides dark colour, body and tannins. Turasan is a producer I enjoyed. Another appealing wine was a Shiraz-Bogazkere blend from Sarafin.  I rate the wines mentioned 86-89 points and  good value for money.

In Georgia I tried a white wine called Rkatsiteli. This grape variety has been planted in Georgia for more than 5000 years and was widely planted in Russia as well. Apparently some is grown in the US and Australia. The wine I tried was quite Chablis like, with citrus flavours and a flinty, acidic finish. The red wine was Khvanchkara, regarded as a high-end wine. It is quite a sweet wine, tasting of raspberries and bubble gum. This takes some getting used to.

Overall, I found it very enjoyable to delve into wines which are very different from what we are used to. These wines are quite unique, and I hope some wineries will manage to achieve wider international distribution (which the Turkish wines need, as the dominant Muslim population does not drink wine).

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