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Big Turkish export push

Turkish wines are set to hit the UK as importer Alaturka teams up with two major producers to concentrate on exports.

In an industry not noted for cooperation, Alaturka is spearheading an export drive for wines from Turkey in partnership with Doluca and Kavaklidere, the two largest wineries in the country.

The value of Turkish wine exports around the world hit US$7.3m in 2003, increasing from US$5m in 2001. Sixty per cent of exports go to Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. While most of Turkey’s 100 wineries are small and do not export, Doluca and Kavaklidere sell to those three countries as well as the Netherlands, Denmark and the US.

Other producers such as Sevilen have a presence in Germany, and boutique winery Melen in the Thrace region exports as much as 40% to Japan and France.

Doluca now produces 13m bottles annually and Kavaklidere’s total capacity reached 17.5m litres this year. Both firms have invested heavily in modern vinification and storage facilities.

Doluca head Ahmet Kutman, the UC Davis-trained son of the founder, claims to have put ‘over the last ten years US$1-2m per annum’ into the winery near Mürefte, which opened in 1993.

Kavaklidere recently completed an impressive unit near Gülsehir in central Anatolia, at a cost ‘in excess of US$3m’, surrounded by a 200ha vineyard. It is also planning a third winery.

Crucially, the big concerns have already turned their attention to vineyards focusing on both international and Turkish varieties. Indigenous white grapes include Narince, Emir and the ubiquitous Sultaniye; and reds Bogazkere, Öküzgözü and Kalecik Karasi.

International varieties grown include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Merlot and a raft of others. Many are blended with native varieties. Melen makes a Shiraz Reserve and a Merlot Reserve. The owner, Cem Cetintas believes blends of Merlot and Semillon with native grapes could be the way for export.

Doluca produces a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Chardonnay that observers reckon are among their best wines.

And UK-based consultant John Worontschak – who has made wine for some of the world’s most prestigious names from Barossa to Italy – makes Two Continents, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Öküzgözü which is aimed at the UK supermarkets and should sell for around £4.99.

Written by Richard James

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