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.
Beyond the usual suspects, there are hundreds of red grape varieties grown throughout the world. Some are indigenous specialties capable of producing excellent single varietal wines, while others are better suited for use as blending grapes. Each has its own distinct viticultural characteristics, as well as aroma and flavor profiles, offering much to be discovered by the curious wine lover. In particular, Portugal and Italy are known for having a multitude of unique varieties but they can really be found in any region.