A symbol and staple of celebration, giving, religion and commiseration – wine plays a role in so many of the most important moments in life. Even as a reflection of peace.
Approaching the centenary anniversary for the events at Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula, one Turkish winery has created a viticultural statement of friendship between our two nations. This week, the Gali winery releases a special edition of its regular estate wine specifically for the Australian public, beautifully packaged and labeled. The wine itself is a fruit-driven, savoury merlot-dominated blended red (with a little bit of fragrant cab franc thrown in) from grapes grown only metres away from where Australian troops first landed 100 years ago.
It’s about as picturesque a sight as you could visualise for a vineyard – standing among the vines at Gali, there is an impressive view down the entire spine of the Gallipoli Peninsula. After a few minutes looking across the choppy water of the sea and the rocky white sand of the coastline (the quiet, calm fields nestled behind them) you can’t help but wonder about what happened here and what is must have really been like.
Hakan Kavur, the Turkish winemaker behind the project, has flown to Australia for the first time also to commemorate this centenary anniversary. “Hakan and (wife) Nilgun approached me when I was there in October, wanting to do something to commemorate the event,” explains Ross Close, importer of the Gali wines. “Generally, you get a feeling there is a really warm regard for Australians in Turkey, and they know the public (in Australia) has a love of fine wine.”
And the wine itself? It’s almost black in the glass and quite dark-fruited (with loads of spice) when you stick your nose in. The palate remains quite plush and there’s ripeness without being jammy (more medium-bodied) with some sweet, chocolaty/red-fruited flavours and balanced tannins.
Unlike Gali, a glass of Turkish wine usually isn’t much more than a thin, unbalanced and (often) hard to swallow experience (not that we see much of it here in Australia, but Europe does). But there are a handful of local makers churning out some really decent juice.
We asked Ned Godwin MW (Master of Wine – about as far up in the wine qualifications as one can go) about the wine after he’d tasted it at its launch in Istanbul. “(It’s) clearly varietal and not at all pushed. The oak is well handled, with good, grainy tannins and fresh acidity – a supple, easy drink.” It’s actually really well suited to our Australian palate, especially if you’re a fan of more serious styles of spicy, savoury merlot.
A percentage of all profits from the sale of this wine goes to Doctors Without Borders. As Close explains: “They’re a neutral, non-political charity. Given this focus on war, it’s a reminder that someone still has to clean up on both sides that conflict creates.”
Head to gallipoliwine.com for more on the wine itself or to buy online.