It’s rare to find Turkish wines in the United States, which is unfortunate. The country has an exciting industry, with destination estates welcoming guests for tours, meals and sometimes overnight stays. Vintners produce fine bottlings from classic grapes, as well as unique indigenous varieties that deserve to be better known. I spent several days exploring the wineries of the Aegean region of Turkey, which have tasting rooms easily accessible by car. They were a lovely diversion from the beaches and the archaeological sites. Here are three of the best.
Sevilen Isabey Vineyard
Founded by Bulgarian immigrant Isa Guner in 1942 and now in its third generation of ownership, Sevilen is one of Turkey’s biggest wine companies. Sevilen Isabey Vineyard, located near the airport for the port city of Izmir, is one of its two vineyards. I regretted not making time for lunch beneath the shade of a 300-year-old sycamore tree on the patio of its Aegean-style restaurant, but it was a pleasure sampling wines on the breezy, covered terrace of the modern, low-slung tasting room and wine shop surrounded by grapevines and roses.
With another estate in Anatolia and contracts with many grape growers, Sevilen vinifies over 30 different wines using hand-harvested European and indigenous Turkish grapes. My favorite was the 2021 Sauvignon Blanc grown right in front of me: floral and citric with a touch of herbaceousness, without becoming too grassy. Just as refreshing, the 2021 rosé, made with the Kalecik Karasi grape grown near Ankara, was highly perfumed with a raspberry flavor and bittersweet finish. I also enjoyed a red version of Kalecik Karasi, the unoaked 2018 Nativus, which was full of cherry fruit with a bit of mocha on the end. It would have been great chilled on that warm day.