Hear from our Southern & Eastern Mediterraean Regional Chair Isa Bal MS on which wines to buy, which wines to leave on the shelf and what to keep an eye on from this year's Decanter World Wine Awards....

While this panel looks at wines from across this diverse region, Turkey still dominates our results. The country is situated in a geographical area with many thousands of years of viticultural history. I’ve always felt Turkey’s wine producers owe the wine-loving public a debt, which I don’t think they’ve paid for a long time. But over the past 10 years or so this has been changing and we are seeing some really exciting wines coming out of Turkish vineyards made from both indigenous and international varieties. The people making these wines are to be congratulated for doing so despite the difficult conditions presented by the country’s legal system concerning wine production. The focus is firmly on whites and reds, with sparkling and sweet styles largely ignored by most producers. Overall, there were some really smart wines, especially at the medium-priced level, but poor oak is affecting many potentially high-quality wines. Away from Turkey, Malta’s small showing is to be commended, but it would be nice to see some more wines from here as well as north Africa in future years.

What should we buy from here?

The blends made with Kalecik Karasi and Syrah did very well, and vaietal Syrah is also proving successful, as seen in our two Golds. But for the second year running it was a Nero d’Avola-Urla Karasi blend that took our well-deserved Trophy – a great combination.

What should we leave on the shelf?

High-priced, over-oaked Cabernet Sauvignons and badly handled Narince were disappointments: price does not guarantee a good wine anywhere in the world, and Turkey’s indigenous varieties will never be fully appreciated unless quality improves. The Maltese wines, unfortunately, failed to excite our panel.

What should we keep an eye on?

The newly established Thrace Wine Route is a sign of things to come from there. Watch out for the Denizli Güney region too. I predict Cabernet Franc will increase its medal tally in future years, as will Nero d’Avola and other southern Italian varieties.

Written by Decanter