Our view of wines is changing. While it may still be dominated by Burgundy and Barolo, Cabernet and Chardonnay, much of what has been familiar in the past is inching out of the reach of ordinary consumers. Prices are rising for the wine world’s recognised stars, creating openings and impetus for some rising stars. That is not to say that Öküzgözü from Turkey is about to replace your Cabernet, but it does mean that you just might have a few opportunities to try Öküzgözü soon, a good thing that certainly wasn’t always the case.
Today’s wine drinker is less bound by convention than those of decades gone by. The Classifications of Bordeaux and Burgundy are less important, and intriguing to many new wine drinkers than the Qvevri wines of Georgia or even the Rieslings of New York’s Finger Lakes. The reasons behind this are of course complex, with some influence coming from rising prices, emerging wines tending to be well priced, but other larger forces are at work including a return to the appreciation of what is local and natural; with the thrill of discovery adding its own unique impetus to the exploration of these lesser known wine regions.
While many of us in the trade can be dismissive of regions that have yet to see the full force and fruition of investment come to bear, it is worth noting that these regions are gaining increasing international attention for their wines, with each region having their own apostles, ensuring access to an increasingly curious and adventuresome audience. It’s time to start paying attention to wines beyond the usual suspects. It’s time to start paying attention to regions that will teach us a thing or two about the diversity and beauty of wine. It’s time to start paying attention to the parts of the world we have never paid attention to before!
Here are some of my favourite regions that are quickly developing reputations as the next big thing in wine:
Haven’t heard much about Turkish wine? Well that is only a little surprising, but not more so than not knowing that the Turkish wine industry has roots that stretch back thousands of years, recognised as having first produced a beverage known as “vino” between 4000-3000 B.C.
Turkey is poised to become a major player in the wine world over the coming years. Already one of the most prolific grape growing countries in the world, with annual yields over 4 million metric tons, sixth highest in the world, Turkey is far better known for their production of table grapes and raisins than wine, but that is slowly changing.
Roughly 28 million liters of wine are produced annually in Turkey, accounting for perhaps half their total potential based on current vineyard plantings. Already a formidable number, the potential for a doubling of production at a time when quality is showing impressive improvements (the average price per litre of Turkish wines has increased from $1.36 in 2006 to $3.25 in 2011) means that Turkey is truly prepared to make inroads into the global premium wine market, something that few would have considered just a decade ago.