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In This Issue
 Turkish delight A very cheap but surprisingly stylish wine from an unexpected quarter.
 Kavaklidere 2002 "Yakut" Oküzgözü d'Elazig ($4.99) Light, crisp and fresh, a Beaujolais-style red from Turkey.
 California Wine Club Free Book for Wine Advisor Subscribers!
 Wine Lovers' Voting Booth We salute the season with an offbeat non-wine poll.
 This week on A tasting of Souza Ports and a look at "stealth" wine labels.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index Links to recent articles in the Wine Advisor archives.
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Turkish delight

Poised on the border between Europe and Asia and arguably part of the cradle of civilization, Turkey boasts a rich and ancient history ... and a key role in the early history of wine. Then called Anatolia, Turkey was home to cultivated vineyards and a commercial wine industry as far back as 6,000 years ago.

Although Turkey's largely Muslim population drinks little wine in modern times - per capita consumption is less than 1 liter of wine per year - Turkey is a secular republic with a strong commitment to globalization, and its wine-producing industry remains surprisingly strong, with nearly 50 Turkish wineries producing some 275 million liters per year, ranking far behind the leaders in the world wine sweepstakes, but not too far below Canada and well ahead of such other Middle East producers as Lebanon and Israel.

Even so, exports to the U.S. are limited, so I was quite surprised to spot a fresh, relatively recent (2002 vintage) bottle at a local retailer the other day. Naturally I snapped it up ... at $4.99 a bottle, what was there to lose?

It took a fair amount of research to parse the label, but here's how I make it out: Kavaklidere is the wine producer, one of Turkey's largest, based near Ankara, the national capital. Oküzgözü is the grape, a native Turkish red variety grown around Elazig, a city of 270,000 on the banks of the Euphrates River in mountainous eastern Turkey. And Yakut is the winery's label name for this particular wine style, "dry red wine of a certain standard quality ... the best selling red wine of Turkey."

Recalling youthful experiments with Algerian and Corsican wines, not to mention cheap Eastern Bloc wines from Iron Curtain days, I wasn't expecting too much. In fact, I had a modest Spanish red in reserve for dinner in case this one was a disaster.

But ... hey! It's not bad! Crisp and fresh, not overly complex but tartly refreshing like unsweet black-cherry juice, it somewhat reminded me of Beaujolais, not in terms of varietal character but its fresh, snappy refreshing quaffability. It went nicely with simple fare, and certainly left no room for complaints at the price. It makes a good introduction to Turkish wine, and is certainly worth the minimal investment if you can find it.

The Kavaklidere winery's Website is online in English here:

For an intriguing, long interview with Esat Ayhan, proprietor of La Cave, a wine shop in the affluent Cihangir neighborhood in Istanbul, see the archives of the English-language Turkish Daily News,

Interested in comparing the world's wine-producing nations ranked by production? You'll find a thorough list at Wine Institute,

To comment further about today's topic (or other wine-related issues), you'll find a round-table online discussion in our interactive Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, where you're always welcome to join in the conversations about wine.

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

Kavaklidere Kavaklidere 2002 "Yakut" Oküzgözü d'Elazig ($4.99)

Clear ruby in color, this Turkish red breathes pleasant if subdued aromas of black plums and cherries with a smoky back note. Crisp tart-cherry flavors are clean and fresh, simple but appealing, somewhat Beaujolais-like in their simple, refreshing fruit. Nicely balanced, a good food wine and a pleasant suprise from Turkey, an excellent buy at this bargain-basement price. U.S. importer: The House of Burgundy Inc., NYC. (Nov. 7, 2004)

FOOD MATCH: Perfect with an Italian-accented meat loaf.

VALUE: Lack of knowledge of Turkish wines in the West, and the concomitant skepticism about them, keeps prices low; for $5 it's a steal.

WHEN TO DRINK: The light, crisp and fresh nature of this fruity red wine suggests that it's best drunk up young, and information from the winery underscores that. It won't die in the next year, but don't cellar it, and be cautious about older stock.

When it comes to Turkish, I'm clueless. If any Turks or linguistic experts are looking on, please E-mail me at and give me a lesson!

Kavaklidere Website:

Look up vendors and prices for Kavaklidere on

California Wine Club
California Wine Club:
Free Book for Wine Advisor Subscribers!

The California Wine Club is offering no billing and no shipping until December 2004. Plus if you place your holiday gift orders now, you'll receive a free copy of the book "How To Match Food and Wine" - a $14 value!

Why wait? The California Wine Club has gift packages to suit all tastes, all budgets, and it's hassle-free shopping for you. Your gift recipients will experience a California wine adventure from the comfort of home. Each month includes two bottles of award-winning wine from California's best boutique wineries and detailed 12-page, magazine Uncorked. Just $32.95/month plus shipping with special discounts on gifts of 3, 6, 9 and 12 months.

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Wine Lovers' Voting Booth: Political preference?

On rare occasion, we open the Wine Lovers' Voting Booth to a non-wine-related topic, seeking just for the fun of it to sample opinions of the Internet wine-loving community on topics that have varied from favorite pets to favorite musical genre.

In the aftermath of the recent U.S. presidential election, we can't resist taking a light-hearted look at the way wine lovers label themselves politically as we ask citizens of all nations, what's your political preference?

To take part in this informal ballot, click to the Voting Booth,

This week on

Here are links to some of our recently published articles that I think you'll enjoy:

Words About Port: Little Known Port Producer - Porto Souza
Porto Souza is not a household name in the United States, as this Portuguese producer is really just gaining a foothold in North America. Roy "PortoLover" Hersh recently had an opportunity to assess a broad spectrum of the Souza Ports. This is his report on a group tasting he hosted, with notes on a dozen Ports including Souza's full range and a few "ringers."

Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: Who really made that wine?
A handful of huge wine companies produce a vast array of different wine brands. What you might think is a trendy wine from a boutique winery may in fact be a new label from a mega-winery. We link to, and readers comment on, a Modesto Bee article about "stealth" wine labels.

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

 Finding words for wine (Nov. 5, 2004)

 Speaking of Ohio (Nov. 3, 2004)

 WT101: What's for Dessert? (Nov. 1, 2004)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Oven "fries" and cheese sauce (Nov. 4, 2004)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:

 30 Second Wine Advisor, daily or weekly (free)
 Wine Advisor FoodLetter, Thursdays (free)
 Wine Advisor Premium Edition, alternate Tuesdays ($24/year)

For all past editions, click here


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Monday, Nov. 8, 2004
Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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