Last week, an international team of the IWSC judges headed to Istanbul to judge Turkish wines in-situ, in partnership with Tuğrul Şavkay Turkish Wines Competition.
Sarah Abbott MW and Alistair Cooper MW, who are both members of the IWSC’s Wine Judging Committee, oversaw the judging panels. They were joined by Salvatore Castano, Rebecca Palmer, David Kermode, Cat Lomax, Isa Bal MS and Richard Lewis, as well as local Turkish wine experts.
Following a busy day of tastings, we caught up with our judges to hear about the highlights and the discoveries so far.
Turkish wines' overall quality has made great progress in recent years, according to the judges who were particularly impressed by the wines made from indigenous grapes, especially the reds. The best examples allowed the fruit character to shine through, without overwhelming it with heavy oak. "Bright, fresh, fruit-forward styles with refreshing, balanced acidity and ripe, silky tannins were what we enjoyed seeing in the glass," our judges said.
One of the standout reds was a complex and gastronomic Erciş Karasi which demonstrated the quality that can come from Eastern Turkey. The Boğazkere flight was also very strong, with 5 silver medals across a diversity of styles. The most successful examples showed an ability to manage the tannins and fruit characteristics.
The lighter red varietals showed good consistency, with a particularly vibrant Çalkarasi wine earning a solid silver medal. Another elegant and fresh red grape which stood out was Öküzgözü.
As for the international varietals, the best-performing wines were Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The top examples of the latter have not seen any oak and the judges praised their "bright acidity, well-managed tannins and lovely black olive note supported by juicy black fruit characters."
Amongst the whites, Narince grape demonstrated its huge potential across a diversity of styles, from fresh and fruit-forward to an exceptional example in a reductive, oaked style that earned a gold medal. Likewise, our judges were delighted by the Emir’s flight, describing it as "absolutely incredible" and awarding the white wines made of this varietal several medals, including one gold.
The rosé wines also performed well, with some silver medals awarded to fresh, clean examples.
Overall, our judges emphasised that the future of Turkish wines looks bright and promising as more and more producers champion unique indigenous grape varietals. With 5 gold medals, dozens of silver, and over a hundred bronze medals awarded – full results to be announced on Wednesday 7 June – this year’s Turkish entries performed brilliantly well.
The IWSC’s 2023 Turkish Wine Results will be available from 7 June 2023.