COMMENTS ON JANCIS ROBINSON’S COMMENTS ON TURKISH WINES
Less than a month ago the reknowned wine writer Jancis
Robinson visited Turkey
My own interest in Ms. Robinson’s views on Turkish wines simply stems from the
fact that I am Turkish and that I write twice a week for the Turkish daily
Milliyet (Sundays on restaurants and Tuesdays on wine related topics). I also have
my own TV show where I visit and evaluate restaurants in Turkey
I should also admit that I have not grown up drinking
Turkish wine. I studied abroad, in the US
Since than I have been involved in a solitary effort to goad
Turkish producers to produce terroir driven wines, and I have expressed my scepticism on several occasions
about the relative merits of some international varieties in Turkey
1. ENTHUSIASM FOR LOCAL GRAPES
I fully agree with Ms. Robinson about the merits of some local white varieties grown on Turkish soil. These include the minerally EMIR, the delicate NARINCE, and the zesty VASILAKI of Bozcaada (Greek variety). I am also as enthusiastic as she is about the juicy red grape called “bullseye” (in Turkish it is OKUZGOZU), although I am more optimistic than she is about the potential of the tannic and rustic BOGAZKERE grape. The Bogazkere grape reminds me of Nebbiolo, and it may be worth blending with other varieties (normally it is blended with Okuzgozu, but it is worth considering experiments with other combinations). I do not have enough experience with the KARALAHNA produced in Bozcaada (which is Greek Xinomavro and a couple of Xinomavro wine that I drank in Greece struck me as being more elegant than the Bozcaada version), while I think Ms. Robinson is right that KALECIK KARASI can be charming, but nothing more.
2. SKECPTICISM ABOUT INTERNATIONAL GRAPES.
Ms Robinson is quite right that most SAUVIGNON BLANCS made
On the other hand I am much more skeptical than she is about the prospects of CHARDONNAY made on the Aegean coast. All Chardonnays I have tasted from different producers (some aged on the lees) lack the middle palate and are rather hollow. I am also more skeptical than she with respect to the potential of Cabernet Sauvignons coming from the Aegean coast (like Cesme). I was quite taken aback when she called 2005 Buyulubag Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve “Claret….Bordeaux like”. Perhaps the first sip gives that impression (it is a well crafted wine, as she says), but the wine in question lacks minerality and has limited depth.
3. OVERALL EVALUATION
In her overall evaluations I think Ms. Robinson was overly
polite and shied away from being more blunt. Most wines made in Turkey
4. HER SCORES
Ms. Robinson uses a scoreboard of 1 to 20 to evaluate the wines. While I am not familiar with her other ratings, I had a very hard time understanding them. There are wines she tasted, and she acknowledges that they have no “subtlety.” Yet she ranked them as 16 out of 20. Perhaps due to the fact that I was shaped by the French educational system where 11 out of 20 is a very good grade and 16 means “superb”, I have a hard time understanding the logic of her rankings. For example, she ranks a very mediocre Chardonnay which lacks acidity, complexity and minerality to be worthy of 16 out of 20. If so, what ranking would she give to, say, a 95 Coche Meursault Perrieres or 90 Leflaive Chevalier????
The only way I can interpret the scores is that Ms. Robinson is using a relative scale, evaluating wines out of a potential IN A GIVEN TERROIR. It is a bit like the Zagat Survey; a restaurant which gets 29 out of 30 in, say, Arkansas, may be much less good than one which gets 24 in San Francisco. In gastromondiale I use an absolute scale for restaurants and wines (see criteria of evaluation), but she may be adjusting her scale relative to the potential of the country. On the other hand, I agree with her about the order of her scores. Minor disagreements aside, if one deducts 6 points from her evaluations, one should get an idea about what gastromondiale would have ranked the wines.
5. HER OPTIMISM
All this said, I do share her optimism that the future of
wine making in Turkey
NICK LANDER ON ISTANBUL RESTAURANTS
While his wife evaluated Turkish winemaking, Mr. Lander dined in some Turkish restaurants and wrote a piece in the Financial Times entitled as “Dining with a view in Istanbul” (June 6, 2009).
I would like to recommend this piece to gastromondiale
readers. Mr Lander captured well the culture of dining in Istanbul
His reticence is also revealing. He dined at the leading restaurants for the Turkish elite, like MIKLA (which is not mentioned in the article) and SUNSET (mentioned but not commented pn for food), but he prefers to highlight BEBEK BALIKCI (good fish shack) and ECE AKSOY (which I recommend too for lovers of vegetables).
The sad thing is that while Ms. Robinson had a chance to
evaluate almost all Turkish wines which are noteworthy, Mr Lander could not get a better picture of
the food scene. The truth is that the best
food in Istanbul
This is in general a safe assumption because most people in
the world prefer sterile food in beautiful surroundings. But it is also a pity because the very little
I know about Lander (article on Turkey