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The Best Turkish Wines to Drink

Recommended Turkish Wines

The questions I get asked time and time again are, “Which wine should I drink?” and, “When I’m traveling in Turkey, what are some wines that are recommended for me to try to find?”.    

After having tasted literally thousands of Turkish wines over the last 20 years, I certainly have some ideas for you. Also, I’ll quickly point out, that with all the information on the web and the fact that everywhere including Turkey good wine will cost at least $10 a bottle, why spend your good money on less than recommended wine?  

 

Making a Selection

Let me start by saying, most people when they are choosing wines, do so for an occasion or based on the type of meal or specifically, the type of cuisine they chose.  So in this article, I’m going to give you a few different ways to approach your Turkish wine selection and choose the best Turkish wine to drink.

Some people are really committed to one varietal (single grape used in wine) and always look for that, while others are more adventurous wanting to find new styles so I’ll include a few sections below for each of a few commonly sought-after varietals.  I then include a brief bit about Turkish varietals (you literally can’t find these grapes or wines anywhere else in the world) that I recommend you look for.

As always, everyone’s tastes vary, but I am a very open-minded wine taster and I love everything from bold, acidic tannic red wines (yes we have those!) to fruity even semi-sweet whites and roses, though I tend to prefer my wine a bit stronger across the board. Okay, enough qualifications here are my recommendations, both grapes and labels.

One final note – I always present wines by writing the producer, the wine name, the varietal, and then the year.  For example, Kocabag Kapadokya Narince-Emir 2019 would be from the Kocabağ Winery, their Kapadokya series (level) of wines, the Narince-Emir varietals and from 2019.  Also, every list is from lighter to darker, fuller bodied.

Turkish Wines by Occasion (See Below for Specific Label Recommendations)

Drinking without Food

Arcadia İlktepe Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Kocabağ K Emir 2020 

Kavaklidere Selection Emir-Narince 2019

Argos/Kavaklidere Nahita Dokya Chardonnay 2020

Vino Dessera Entrika Blush 2020

Çamlıbağ Bozcaada Özel Rezerv Kuntra 2013

Kocabağ K Kalecik Karası 2019

Ma’adra Öküzgözü 2020

Kocabağ Leo 2019

 

Best Turkish White Wines for Chicken, Fish, or Vegetarian Meals

Narince for vegetarian chicken, and fish cuisine 

Emir for cheesy dishes beans chicken 

Bornova Misketi for lower fat foods and spicy foods

 

Best Turkish Wines for Pizza, Pasta, and Italian Food

Kalecik Karasi

 

Best Turkish Wines for Pub Grub like Hamburgers, Fried Foods

Öküzgözü

 

Best Turkish Wines for Beef Dishes

Bogakere or Bogakere/Öküzgözü blend

 

Recommended Turkish Wines for Lamb/ Mutton Meals

Boğazkere, Shiraz (Syrah) Petit Franc or Petit Verdot

 

Dessert Wines

Rosé or Bornova Misketi

 

International Varietal

International White Wine Recommendations:

Sauvignon Gris or Blanc:  Arcadia Odrysia Sauvignon Gris 2019, Arcadia İlktepe Sauvignon Blanc 2018,  Yedi Bilgiler Khilon Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Sevilen 900 Fume Sauvignon Blanc 2020  with these last 2 being exceptional.  

In fact, if you find yourself having to choose a white wine blindly from a menu, go for a Sauvignon Blanc - this variety does exceedingly well in Turkey and most are quite nice.

Chardonnay: Pamukkale Arti Chardonnay Narince 2020, Çakır Somium Chardonnay 2019 (very oaky), Ma’adra Chardonnay 2019, Argos/Kavaklidere Nahita Dokya Chardonnay 2020, Barel Vineyards Chardonnay 2020.

Viognier: Gali Viognier 2020.

Rosé Blush from International Varietals: Badur Rosé CS Merlot 2020, Doluca Sarafin Merlot, CF 2020, Çakır Somnium Rosé CS 2020, Sobran Alaşehir Philadelphia Rosé CS Shiraz 2020

 

International Red Wine Recommendations

Pinot Noir: Ma’adra Pinot Noir 2019, Likya Vineyards Pinot Noir 2020,

Sangiovese: Nif Winery Sangiovese 2020

Cabernet Franc: Yedi Bilgeler Solon Attica 2020, Vino Dessera VD Cab Franc 2019, Caeli Ament Cab Franc 2018, 

Merlot: Arcadia Mono Merlot 2019, Ma’adra Merlot 2019, Uçmakdere Firuze 2019, Gali Pure Merlot 2016, 

Malbec: Yedi Bilgeler Solon Attica Malbec 2020, 

Cabernet Sauvignon: Diren Collection CS 2020, Pamukkale Nodus CS 2019, Ma’adra 2019, Çakır Somnium Premium 2018.

Syrah/Shiraz: Çakır Adventum 2019, Diren Collection 2020, Kayra Vintage Shiraz 2019, Asmadan Kör Reserve Syrah 2018 (better than 2019), Sevilen Centum 2017, Selendi Sarnıç Shiraz 2019, Ma’adra Syrah 2018,

Petit Verdot Sevilen 900 Petit Verdot 2019, Mozaik Mahrem 2013

Blends: There are many amazing red blends here. The diversity of varietals available to the winemakers means that some of the top wines in Turkey are well-created blends. This is how the Bordeaux region became famous by mixing the best of any of 4 grapes each year, and the technique is not lost on Turkey.  Look for these which are some of the best red wines in Turkey: Caeli Ament Blend 2017, Doluca Karma 2016, Arcadia Odrysia 2019, Sobran Bağları Kupaj 2019, Taneanda 2016, Asmadan Kör Blend 2019, Chateau Nuzun 2014, Doluca Alçıtepe 2016, Suvla Grand Reserve 2018, Selendi Akhisar Blend.

Turkish Varietals and Local Grapes

Turkish White Wine Recommendations

Bornova Misketi:  This is an ancient varietal from around Izmir. Most wineries in the region make excellent varieties. Two to look for are Yedi Bilgeler Vindemia Güz 2021 and Nif Bağları Bornova Misketi 2020.

 

Narince The best ones come from north of Ankara. This is a light refreshing and crisp wine.  Recommended labels are Kayra Vintage Narince 2019, Kavaklidere Prestige Narince 2019, Doluca Kav Narince 2020,  Diren Collection Narince 2020.

 

Emir Find any that come from Cappadocia - the best place to grow this full-bodied grape.  The best is Kocabag K Emir 2019 and the cheapest, but  Kavaklidere Emir 2020, Vinkara Doruk Emir 2018, and Turasan Emir 2020 are all excellent as well.

 

Emir/Narince Blend This takes the best of these two grapes above and marries them into an excellent white wine with floral aroma, acidity, body, and flavor. Kavaklidere Selection 2019, Kocabag Misli Emir-Narince 2020, Mor Salkim Volante Narince-Emir 2020 but there are many producers of this and most are above average. 

 

Vasilaki: A unique grape that is only grown on Bozcaada in Thrace, acidic and full-bodied, almost but not quite like a Chardonnay. Any Vasilaki by Corvus, Camlibağ or Talay is worth a try with Corvus being the most sophisticated producer.  Try Corvus Zeleia Vasilaki 2018, Çamlıbağ Vasilaki 2019.

 

Turkish Blush and Rosé Recommendations

There is a lot of fun experimentation with blush wines in Turkey, so always worth being adventurous here.  Also, many producers will use higher quality red wine grapes that don’t meet their red wine standard to make above-average blush wines. Look for Vino Dessera Entrika Blush 2020, Vino Dessera Pürneşe Blush 2020 both made from ÇalKarası, a lighter red wine variety.  Also look for Kayra Vintage Öküzgözü Rosé 2020, Gordias Nana Roze Kalecik Karası 2020, both made from local red varieties from above. 

 

Turkish Red Wine Recommendations

Kuntra A unique wine grape left from Greek winemakers of 100 or more years ago this is one of the few varietals that was not lost during the early 1900s in Turkey. Light fruity with low acidity and minerality from wind-swept Bozcaada define this grape.  This grape only comes from Bozcaada, so the choice is easy, 3 of the 6 or so wineries there Corvus, Talay, and Camlibağ are the best.  Talay Kuntra 2017, Çamlıbağ Bozcaada Özel Rezerv Kuntra 2013, Corvus Aegea Kuntra 2018. 

 

Karalahna The grape, too, comes only from Bozcaada and again you should look for Camlibag and Corvus brands. This wine is bigger and bolder than Kuntra with much more acidity but still medium-bodied. Some archaeologists say this is the grape mentioned and drunk by Homer from his Illiad.  Corvus Vinium Karalahna 2019, Çamlibağ Karalahna 2018, and Talay have a slightly less preferred version.

 

Kalecik Karasi: (or any thing ending with Karasi like Cal Karasi, Papazkarasi, Adakarasi). Kara means dark or black in old Turkish, and they use this ending to name many of the local varieties. While unique they are all similar in that they are lighter more fruity reds with good body and acidity, somewhat akin to a Pinot Noir.  These are often used for Rosé as well.  Saranta Chateau Murou Papazkarası 2020, Diren Collection Kalecik Karası 2020, Argos/Kavaklidere Nahita Dokya Kalecik Karası 2020,  Yedi Bilgeler Vindemia Rüzgar Kalecik Karası 2020, Kocabağ K Kalecik Karası 2019, Likya Vineyards Arkeo Acikara 2020. 

 

Öküzgözü Growing in a region further north than Boğazkere below, near the city of Elazig where the mountains fall onto the Anatolian plain, this grape literally means ‘bull’s eye’ as they are large, spherical, and dark.  The grape is sweeter and more fruity than Boğazkere but far more pleasant alone, but sometimes lacking body for an excellent red. With advances in production, there are now many Öküzgözü single varietals that are excellent. Look for: Kocabağ K Öküzgözü 2020 (the best), Ma’adra Öküzgözü 2020, Küzeybağ Öküzgözü 2019, Vino Dessera VD Öküzgözü 2020.

 

Boğazkere This grape comes from the Tigris river region near Diyarbakir and south of there. The name means ‘throat burner’ since it is high in acid, tannin and very full-bodied, in the past rarely used on its own, I now find many varietal Boğazkere wines are excellent including Doluca Tuğra Boğazkere 2017.

 

Boğazkere/Öküzgözü blend: This is the most Turkish of blends in red, and is highly recommended. If you enjoy reds don’t miss drinking a few of these. They are unlike wines anywhere with their body, acidity, flavor profile and minerality.  Labels to grab are: Vinkara Doruk 2019, Asmadan Kör Reserve 2019, Doluca Kav 2018, Kocabağ Leo 2019.

Connect

If you want to learn more about wines in Turkey, consider booking a wine tour. I have also written a guide to help you choose a guided vs. a self-guided wine tour. 

 

To find out more about the wine above, check out my over 300 recommendations at https://www.vivino.com/users/chris.vannoy/wines.

Visit my site: https://www.turkish-wine.com/  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/turkish_wine_guide/

 

-By Christopher Vannoy

 

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