It’s time to talk Turkey

04 February, 2011

Leading international wine experts, historians, DNA experts and viticulturalists will be brought together at London’s Vinopolis for a conference and trade and press tasting.

The aim of the inaugural trade tasting, according to organisers Wines of Turkey, is to launch Turkish wines into the British market and establish whether Turkey is the birthplace of wine.

“Turkey is part of a region where wine-making has a very long history,” said Wines of Turkey spokeswoman Ceyda Pekenc. “With the world’s sixth-largest grape-growing area, it produces excellent wines using indigenous grapes such as Emir and Narince for whites and, for reds, Kalecik Karasi, Öküzgözü and Bogazkere, which deserve to be better and more widely known.”?The generic body says Turkey also ranks sixth in the world for grape production, with 3,850,000 tonnes produced annually. At 486,000ha, it has the largest grape-growing area after Italy, China, the USA, France and Spain, and has more than 800 indigenous grape varieties.

The Vinopolis event, Discover the Roots – Inaugural Wines of Turkey Conference & Tasting 2011, will include talks, Q&A sessions, tastings and masterclasses.

Jancis Robinson MW will be introducing Turkish wine, looking at the industry and its place in the UK market. “As an outsider, I was particularly intrigued by Turkey’s admirable range of indigenous grape varieties,” she says: “Some of the wines were really pretty good and it won’t be long before Turkey produces something exceptional.”?A tasting will take place in the afternoon session, where varieties from winemakers Doluca, Kavaklidere, Kayra, Likya, Pam­ukkale, Selendi, Sevilen and Vinkara will be sampled. The winemakers represent the five winemaking regions of Turkey: Thrace & Marmara Sea, North Anatolia & Black Sea, Anatolia & Aegean Sea, Central Anatolia and South Eastern Anatolia.

“As this is a first for them, all products are new to the market in effect,” says Wines of Turkey’s Pekenc. “We’ll be working hard to make contacts with importers, distributors and retailers to enter the market this year.”?OLN’s Tim Atkin MW and Charles Metcalfe will host two separate masterclasses during the tasting.

The wine culture of Neolithic Turkey will be examined by Dr Patrick McGovern, scientific director at the Biomolecular Archaeology Labora­tory,

University of Pennsylvania Museum. “You might say that we were looking for the vinicultural Garden of Eden,” says McGovern, who is the author of Uncorking the Past. “The eastern Taurus, Caucasus, and northern Zagros mountains have long been considered the world centre of the Eurasian grape and this is the area where the species shows its greatest generic variation and, consequently, where it might have been first domesticated.

“It is also becoming increasingly clear, as we pursue our combined archaeological and chemical investigations, that the world’s first wine culture – one in which viniculture, comprising both viticulture and winemaking, came to dominate the economy, religion and society as a whole – emerged in this upland area by at least 7,000 BC.”?Food writer and broadcaster Kevin Gould will chair a panel session and tasting looking at the indigenous Turkish grape varieties.

Dr José Vouillamoz, grape geneticist at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, and Dr Gökhan Söylemezoglu, professor of viticulture at Ankara University, will discuss recent genetic insights and an overview of viticulture in Turkey. A question and answer session will look at the future of native grapes in Turkey.

“This event marks a milestone for Turkish wines at a time when the Turkish wine industry is producing fine wines from native grapes worthy of gracing the top tables of the world,” says Wines of Turkey director Taner Ögütoglu.

The Wines of Turkey conference and tasting is free to attend for all trade and press. For registration for the conference, tasting or masterclasses, email winesofturkey@? or call 020 7745 7255 by February 11.

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