Like so many people around the world, I watch the news with horror and a sense of helplessness. Suicide bombings in Kabul, Baghdad and Israel, a lunatic driving a lorry into crowds of families in Nice, vast waves of refugees fleeing for their lives…the list of horror goes on and on.

Flag_of_Turkey.svgLast year my sister-in-law visited Istanbul in Turkey and came back full of enthusiasm for a city she found to be beautiful, friendly and very secure. This year, in the light of successive suicide bomb attacks and an attempted coup, only the most intrepid traveller would consider visiting Turkey.  And what of all the people there who depend on tourism for a living? What about other industries, like the wineries – how are they doing in these difficult times?

Didn’t know that Turkey had a wine industry?

In fact, according to Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine, “south eastern Turkey is one of the most likely locations for the origins of viniculture”.

What is more, modern-day Turkey has the world’s fifth largest area planted with vines, although most of the grapes are eaten fresh, dried or used in other products.  Be that as it may, it still has a small wine industry producing some interesting wines, particularly with varieties of vines indigenous to Turkey.

Bottle labelAnd, by great good fortune, my sister-in-law brought me back a bottle from her trip last year. It seemed fitting, given all that has been happening in Turkey, to open the bottle this weekend and drink a toast to the people of Turkey. A tiny way of showing solidarity in these difficult times.

So what was it like?

Turasan Seneler Ökügözu 2012 comes from Cappadocia in south-eastern Turkey, an area over 1000 metres above sea level with sandy, volcanic soils and a dry, continental climate with cold winters.  The wine is made by Turasan, the leading producer in the area, from one of Turkey’s indigenous grapes: Ökügözu, a big, round, dark grape that produces bright, fruity wines with medium body and high acidity. The 2012 vintage won a bronze in the International Wine Challenge of 2014.

The wine was purple in colour and the 11 months’ oak-ageing were apparent on the nose in delicate spicy notes, intermingled with black fruit, like blackberries and blackcurrants and some cherries.  On the palate, the fruitiness came through again, together with high acidity, tooth-coating tannins and medium body and alcohol (13.2% ABV). Altogether a nice, refreshing, fruity wine.

So, if you, like me, feel helpless when you watch the news, perhaps one way of showing a little solidarity in difficult times is to buy products made in the countries affected, be it a bottle of wine or something else. Just a thought. 

Source: Jancis Robinson, 2015, The Oxford Companion to Wine. 4th edition. Oxford University Press.

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