There’s a first for everything, I know. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I even think of Turkey as a county producing wines, which just shows how naive I am, even after 20+ years in the wine business, learning everything one step at a time. I guess after 20 years, I deserve to know more about the world of wine, even if it jabs me like a bolt of lightening. The only answer to “why” is that I take one region at a time and seem to devour it for years, before I move on to other places, most especially when it’s outside of my peripheral vision.

A bit about Turkey producing wine from the Wines of Turkey Website:

Right now, Turkey is focused on bridging the gaps between one of the oldest grape growing and wine making regions in the world, by eduction the new world about what Turkey has to offer. With an 11,000 year history of winemaking, and more than 800 indigenous grape varieties, this represents both the “oldest world in terms of wine making and the newest in terms of quality wine making.”

Turkey’s unique geography is bridging Asia and Europe, which is the physical location for not only being the cradle for civilizations, but also “this geography represents a unique fauna.” It has a biological diversity that is represented by 75 percent of the total number of plant species, which are entirely found in all of of Europe.

Important aspects:

  • Sixth largest grape growing area in the world (but only using three percent of it with wine making)
  • Original home of Vitis vinifera
  • Oldest civilizations with the most diverse cuisine
  • Unique indigenous grape varieties
  • Great tourism potential given the wines of Turkey

Importer: wines

Turasan, 2013 Emir*

(eh-MEER) ~ Cappadocia, Turkey

From the importers’ Website:

The Emir* grape only grows in one place in the world – Cappadocia, Turkey. The Turasan winery is located in the heart of Cappadocia, giving it a natural advantage in producing the freshest and finest Emir. It is often compared to Torrontes and has been grown and made into wine since the Hittite era (1700 BC). Emir thrives in Cappadocia’s volcanic soils and benefits from its unique micro- climate: high altitude, hot days and cool nights.


VISUALLY: The wine is a light yellow in color, and is very inviting.

NOSE: This one had aromas that I’ve never experienced before. Slightly floral, but also influenced by the terroir’s olive trees… This is all in a very pleasant way, please understand. This wine had me needed to rethink everything, because of their singular purity.

SIDEBAR: I brought his up to my contact person Shane Rai, Co-Founder (VinoRai)

I wrote: These wines are wonderful… Could I actually be tasting wines that didn’t mutate upon themselves?

Shane: Yes, you are right – from all that I’ve read and asked from our producers, these native varietals haven’t mutated.

There have been some hypotheses that some of the natives, for example Kalecik Karasi, is linked to another Turkish varietal, but there hasn’t been any DNA profiling conducted to verify that claim.

Then again, the other famous indigenous varietal, Okuzgozu, is said to be related to another indigenous varietal called Kara Erik from neighboring provinces but some recent doubts on this parentage have been cast on that claim too.

With grape domestication having been traced back to 6-7000BC in Turkey, its not terribly surprising that not much detailed literature exists on this topic though there seems to be some increased efforts lately in DNA profiling which might lead to some new & perhaps interesting claims.

PALATE: The producer talks about Torrentes, but that’s not what I got at all. I got the most unusual flavors I’ve ever had in a white wine. It was like tasting white wine for the very first time for me. It was that unique for flavors.  Lichees nuts, white peaches, and star fruit seem to come to mind and palate, along with yellow nasturtiums.


Refreshing and thoughtfully lingering. This is a perfect wine for the Wine Century Club. When you’ve tasted this one, you know you’ve spent your money and time well exploring a new wine.

Turasan, 2012 Kalecik Karasi*

(Kah-le-djic Car-ah-ser)

Imported by Vinorai

From the importers’ Website:

Kalecik Karasi* is a blue-black grape indigenous to Turkey and known for producing fruity wines with low to medium tannins and bright acidity. Although compared to Pinot Noir at times because of its similar red-fruit orientation on the palate, in reality that is where all other similarities end. Kalicek Karasi is unique on its own. Red fruits predominate on the palate with characteristics of vanilla and cocoa undercurrents. Turasan winery is located in the heart of Cappadocia and Kalecik Karasi from this region takes on the characteristics of the terroir. Cappadocia is located on high altitude with limited water supply allowing the grapes to take longer in reaching maturity thereby making the aromas of red fruit, raspberry, red currant and cherry all the more intense and vibrant.


VISUALLY: The wine is light in color, the way I love a great Pinot Noir from California to be; ruby red in color and allowing light to beautifully pass through.

NOSE: Unusual and having to really think about it, because it’s so completely new to me. If I had a Turkish nose and palate, it might jump out at me…  Soft middle Eastern spices like cardamom seeds and Mahleb.

Mahleb is an ancient spice that is used principally in the Middle East, Greece and Turkey. It is the pit of the sour cherry. The aroma is nutty with a hint of almond and cherry. It is used in breads and pastries. Also is an excellent flavoring for sweetmeats. Mahlab, has been used for centuries in the Middle East (especially in Turkey and Syria) as a sweet/sour, nutty addition to breads, cookies and biscuits. This old spice has gained an American following with the new interest in Mediterranean cooking and is mentioned in several popular new cookbooks.

PALATE: When I tasted this wine, I knew that I was tasting history. There is a purity to this wine that seems to state,” this is how wine grapes are, when they’ve not mutated upon themselves for the last nearly 2,000 years.” Purity of flavor, with a simplicity of blueberries and cherries.

FINISH: Silky and lingering, with a slight tannin that’s holding promise for this one. Delicious.


Collection 2012 Diren Öküzgözü*

(Oh-cooz-goe-zue) 2012 Kirizi Sek Sarap,

Dry red wine

From the importers’ Website:

Founded in 1958, Diren’s focus has largely been on indigenous varietals. The 2012 Diren Öküzgözü incorporates Cabernet Sauvignon but mostly highlights the native mid-eastern Anatolian grape – Öküzgözü*. This grape typically produces medium-bodied wines with ripe fruit and spice flavors with plenty of acidity. This wine is lively and structured and due to its forward character can be enjoyed year round. IN 2012, a hot summer was followed by a cool, dry harvest allowing for long hang-times. Excellent structure, aromas, and balance are a hallmark of the vintage.


VISUALLY: The wine is dark cherry in color, telling me that I saved the heavier bodied wine for last. Not knowing anything about these wines, I got lucky in my tasting order. This wine is a gorgeous deep ruby color.

NOSE: Dark cherries and a touch of spice entice…

PALATE: The acidity promised in their own notes delivered. What a great wine for a beef stew. It makes me want to go out and find some Turkish spices to create a dish I’ve also never tasted. It would be fitting. The Cab is perhaps the tannins that will hold this uncomplicated, but very delicious wine.

FINISH: It’s now about five minutes since I tasted this wine, and I’m still enjoying the flavors… Seriously…

I highly recommend to anyone who is wanting to expand your knowledge base about wines to step outside of your own neighborhood (of knowledge) and go global. These Turkish wines are fabulous. It makes me want to plan a vacation to Turkey as soon as possible.

* Wine Century Club ~ I have now tasted exactly 150 different varieties, from around the globe.