A blog devoted to exploring wines made from unusual grape varieties and/or grown in unfamiliar regions all over the world. All wines are purchased by me from shops in the Boston metro area or directly from wineries that I have visited. If a reviewed bottle is a free sample, that fact is acknowledged prior to the bottle's review. I do not receive any compensation from any of the wineries, wine shops or companies that I mention on the blog.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Emir - Nevşehir, Central Anatolia, Turkey

Today marks Fringe Wine's second foray into the land of Turkey.  Our first visit was concerned with a red grape called Öküzgözü, but today we'll be looking at a white grape called Emir.  Those interested in learning more about the Turkish wine industry and its history are advised to click on the link above, as I covered quite a bit of that in my prior post and will try to cover mostly new ground in today's post.

Turkey ranks fourth in the world in acreage devoted to the vine and ranks sixth in terms of grape tonnage harvested, but is virtually nowhere to be found on the lists of top wine producing countries.  The reason is that most of the grapes grown in Turkey are either used as table grapes or are dried and made into raisins.  The Sultana grape, which is known in the United States as the Thompson Seedless, is widely cultivated in Turkey and is used predominately as a table grape or as a raisin grape, though it does occasionally find its way into some of the wines (today's wine, for example, does have a bit of Sultana in it).  Sultana is actually a Vitis vinifera vine and is but one of an estimated 600-1200 native vinifera vines that are found throughout Turkey, though only about sixty of them are cultivated commercially (and those mostly for use as a table grape or for raisins).

As mentioned in my previous post, most of the reason for this is cultural, as Turkey was ruled by the Muslim Ottoman Empire for centuries.  Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol and since the Ottomans enforced religious strictures legally, it was essentially against the law to drink alcohol for a very long time.  The Ottoman Empire was dissolved about 100 years ago, but the country's current population is still predominately Muslim and though the modern government is more tolerant and does not prohibit either the production or consumption of alcohol by its citizens, the religious prohibition still means that most Turks don't drinkl.  One of the necessary components for a strong wine industry is a local population who drinks wine, and since this isn't the case in Turkey, the wine industry has never really taken off there.  While it has been growing and improving significantly over the past few decades, most of the wine produced there is still intended either for export or for tourists.

There are wineries in Turkey, though, and one of the largest is Kavaklidere.  Cenap And founded the Kavaklidere winery in 1929, and the company's website claims that they were the first private sector wine producer in Turkey.  They specify "private sector" because the dominant force in Turkish wine was (and still is) a group called Tekel, which was owned and operated by the Turkish government for decades but which was bought out by private investors in 2004.  Kavaklidere owns 562 hectares of vines throughout Turkey and offers a dizzying array of different bottlings from a mixture of native Turkish grapes and French varieties.

Today's wine is from their Classic selection and is made primarily from the Emir grape, though there is also a touch of Narince (another native Turkish grape that is occasionally made into varietal wines) and Sultana as well.  The grape's name comes from the Arabic word "Emir," which means "Prince" or "Ruler," because of how popular the grape was at the tables of the rich and powerful.  It has been known and grown since Roman times, and when it is used to make wine, the results are typically light, crisp, and best enjoyed young.  Emir is grown most widely in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey, which is located right in the middle of the country, and today's grape is from the Nevşehir province of Central Anatolia, which is right in the middle of that region.  Many vineyards here are at elevations up to 4000 feet above sea level and the winters can be brutally cold.  The climate is extreme at both ends, though, as there is abundant sunshine here during the summers with scorchingly hot high temperatures to boot.

I was able to find a bottle of the 2009 Kavaklidere "Çankaya" Emir de Nevşehir from my friends at Bin Ends for about $12.  In the glass the wine was a pale silvery lemon color.  The nose was intense with lime, pineapple and melon fruit along with a touch of honeysuckle and lemon peel.  On the palate the wine was on the lighter side of medium with fairly high acidity.  There were subdued flavors of lemon-lime citrus, white pear and pineapple fruit with a touch of honeysuckle flower.  Right out of the bottle this wine was somewhat Riesling-ish with nice, ripe, round fruit flavors and killer acidity, but as it opened and warmed up a bit, the flavor profile shifted over to Sauvignon Blanc, with more grapefruit and a kind of grassy herbaceousness that gets more prevalent as the wine opens.  I thought this wine was a very nice value at only $12 and is definitely the kind of thing that I would drink again, especially with raw seafood or poached white fish.

No comments: