When I am on holiday with my family, we are always giving the local produced wine a chance. It has been like that in Tuscany, in Côtes du Roussillon, around Valencia and in the Douro Valley among other places. Either we are visiting the local wineries or we are just picking bottles from local producers in the supermarket. Sometimes it is a bad experience, sometimes it is fine for the time and the place and now and then we discover wines that are surprisingly good.
This summer we went to Turkey - a country with a reputation saying that they mostly produce old fashioned, heavy and sweet wines. They are growing a lot of grapes but most of them are not used for making wine. But times they are a-changin in Turkey as well…
We spent 1½ week in Foca, North of Izmir – a small town at the sea, where the wind is cooling down the heat. In the old days they made a lot of wine in that region. But in 1923 the Treaty of Lausanne established new boundaries and the area changed from belonging to Greece to being part of the new Republic of Turkey. The vineyards and the tradition of viticulture disappeared.
But in the new millennium things began to change again. In 2001 vineyards were re-established in the hinterland, and in 2011 the first winery in Foca opened. The name of the company is Taskoy and they are producing both olive oil and wine – those two things often go well together. The same year they opened a small shop in the town selling their own products and other things like soap and art craft from the area.
We passed by and of course we entered and bought a couple of bottles to try in our rented house. We were very pleased so we came back for more a few days later.
Taskoy are making both white and red wine from local and international grape varieties like cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, syrah and merlot. They are growing their own grapes, using cold fermentation and storing the wine in oak casks before bottling it.
I did not make a lot of notes, but among other wines we tried were these:
Misket 2012: A very fresh white wine with lemon and peach melba in the nose. Crisp and aromatic with nice acid and short tail. Served cold it was light and very delightful in the summer heat.
Öküzgözö 2012: An interesting Turkish red grape variety, which Jancis Robinson in an article once called “super juicy”. And indeed it was. A fresh wine with herbs and eucalyptus in the nose, easy going with flowers, cherries and other red fruits in the palate. Great acidity and nice tannins too.
These two wines were worth the visit in the small shop. The wines based on international grapes were surely drinkable too, but not remarkable. Getting the chance to discover a grape variety like Öküzgözö is exactly why I want to try the local wine and prefer when it is based on local grape varieties. Hopefully I will soon have the chance to explore Öküzgözö and other Turkish wines further. I think it is a county on its way up when it comes to wine. And hopefully merlot and chardonnay won’t force out the local varieties.