Two years ago I wrote about a visit to Mehmet Vuran's Garova vineyard and sang the praises of his wonderful wine. As a hobby winemaker he was unable to sell his produce so we could only go away with one bottle as a gift. Last week I returned to Karanlık to visit his newly built winery. He now has a licence and will be producing 10,000 bottles this year and hopefully 15,000 next. The new building has a spacious balcony overlooking the vineyard, a production and storage area in the basement and ample room to host visitors. This is an exciting development for the Karaova region as it will tempt tourists and coastal dwellers to travel inland and sample a few rural delights. It is especially good news for me, as I now have the best wine in the region on sale within walking distance of my house.
|Photo credit Chris Drum Berkaya|
Bonum vinum laetificat cor hominis
"Good wine gladdens a person's heart." -- Latin proverb
"Iyı şarap kalbini neşelendirir" -- Latince atasözü
This blog is nearly 4 years old and this is the first time I've mentioned the vineyard 45 minutes walk from our house. There's a good reason. Despite walking past many times and chatting to the owner at various social events, we hadn't ever ventured inside. Considering the number of 75cl empty bottles I bag up and take out every week, this seems a serious and unexplainable oversight. It took a visit from a friend from my university days who, unlike me, recognises a good vintage when she tastes one, to inspire us to visit.
Mehmet Vuran is the brains behind the establishment. He has planted several different grape varieties on his family farm and runs a hobby winery, i.e. all the produce is for home use or entertaining friends, he doesn't sell his wine. He opened a bottle of zinfandel for us and knocked us out - I get to try some serious wines when I'm at work and I can swear that Mehmet's wine was as good as any of the $75 plus wines I've tasted this year, in fact better. I would have loaded up with enough cases for the rest of the year if I could have, but this wasn't an option.
|Helen, wine tasting in Pınarlı Belen.|
Mehmet kindly gave us a bottle to take away and we've kept it in the cupboard as it needed an appreciative audience to share it with us. The opportunity came on Sunday and our label-less bottle got decanted into a vessel suited to its quality. Second tasting was just as good as the first.
|Beautiful decanter thanks to Claire and Chris|
So the good news is that fantastic wine is being made locally in the Bodrum area. The bad news is that you can't buy it. But the better news is that Mehmet's wine has received such good feed-back from vintners all over the world that he is considering turning his vineyard into a commercial enterprise. If he does, I'm thinking offering my services if he opens a cafe - as long as he pays me in wine.
Mehmet writes a brilliant blog Garova Günlüğü, if you speak Turkish, it is a mine of information on agriculture, viticulture and local lore, if you don't, it's worth looking at just for the photographs.