The SOMM Journal

December 2014/January 2015

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108 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014/2015 { living history } THE 21ST CENTURY HAS USHERED IN WELCOME CHANGES FOR THE NATIVE wines of Turkey, a land recently identified by molecular archeologists as the point of origin for wild Vitis vinifera. With upwards of 1,500 indigenous grape varieties, most of which are devoted to raisins or the table, no more than 25 are grown commercially for wine and a mere five are used for making fine wine. The privatization of Turkey's wine industry in 2001 signaled the reawakening of a deeply-rooted culture, one that through no fault of its terroir or native grapes has gone unrecognized in the era of modern winemaking. The state monopoly that hobbled the industry in 1927 may be gone, but the industry is now struggling under draconian laws regulating advertising and marketing that were imposed last year. Despite a vast Muslim majority and punitive taxes by the (nominally democratic) gov - ernment, Turkey's fledgling domestic market is managing to grow. Over the last decade, quality imports have been making steady inroads and wine quality—under the direction of consulting winemakers including American Daniel O'Donnell, Antoine Bastid d'Izard, Stéphane Derenoncourt and Florent Dumeau—has soared. "During this adoption period, Turkish consumers have been learning about quality from fine imported wines," said vinter and philanthropist Güler Sabancı whose Gülor winery in Thrace is sited in the historical center of Turkish wine production. Sabancı, Turkey's foremost female business executive, believes that domestic con - sumption and exports will continue to grow despite the lack of government subsidies: "Considering that there have been no incentives for the industry and our ability to market wine at home is quite limited, I'm very optimistic." PHOTO COURTESY OF GÜLOR PHOTO: ERIC LINDBERG Going Native Turkey's visionary vintner, Güler Sabancı is credited with the coun- try's first commercial production of Bordeaux-style wines at Gülor win- ery in Tekirdag˘. In addition to her role as a vintner, Guler Sabanci is the chairperson of Sabancı Holding, one of Turkey's largest industrial and financial conglomerates. Vineyard landscape at Gülor winery. ANCIENT BUT CHALLENGED, WINE CULTURE PERSEVERES IN TURKEY by Deborah Parker Wong

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