An eastern Mediterranean country forming a bridge between the Middle East and Eastern Europe, Turkey has the fifth largest vineyard area in the world but only 3% is made into wine. Most grapes are eaten fresh, dried or made into the popular anise-flavored spirit, Raki, also responsible for only another 3% of production.
Increase in quality over the last 20 years and focus on indigenous varieties has been limited by Turkey’s Islamist-leaning government.
Turkey’s white variety, Narince, thrives in the cool central Black Sea province of Tokat at 1,300 feet elevation. At the Aegean Sea, the local Sultana, Turkey’s most widely planted grape, is used for drying but recently is producing some highly aromatic wines. Bornova Misketi, related to Muscat blanc à Petits Grains, is also abundant. Red varieties, Foça Karası and Urla Karası are indigenous and many international varieties are used in production here as well.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.