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Turkey sets sight on 'quality' export markets

Published:  30 November, 2017

Wines of Turkey held their third annual London tasting yesterday with producers – suffering high domestic sales taxes and growing local restrictions on promotions and sales – eager to boost exports beyond the  traditional markets, Germany and the US.

Amongst the ten producers present were the three oldest and largest in Turkey, Kavaklidere, Doluca and Kayra, the latter created in 2008 out of Tekel - the former state-owned alcohol and tobacco producer.

All three have their sights set on the quality export market, prioritising the marketing of indigenous local grapes, such as Narince (white) and Öküzgözü (red), which translates as ‘ox eyes’ in a nod to the appearance of the grape; Kalecik Karasi and Bŏgazkere - an ultra-tannic variety that means ‘throat-grabber’

“Frankly, it seems pointless to sell Merlot or Chardonnay, which grow so much better in other countries, when we have such rich and unique varieties here in Turkey, often grown in extraordinary terroir,” said Kayra's chief winemaker, Daniel O'Donnell, who has been with Kayra since its creation.

Doluca's export sales manager Nicolas Brun echoed this, saying that even though it produces a lot of international varieties and blends of international/indigenous, foreign wine consumers wanted “novelty and wines that taste different”.

“Our successful brands vary from country to country but in the UK we have been doing very well with the Kav brand, which includes a white Narince varietal and a red Öküzgözü/ Bŏgazkere blend,” he said.

Brun added that recent falls in the Turkish Lira – now around 4.7 to the Euro against just 3.3 a year ago – had been a mixed blessing.

“Many of the larger producers don't price their wines in Lira and, with the depreciation, have seen costs of such vital imports like yeasts, stainless steel tanks and oak barrels rise dramatically,” said Brun, adding these were challenging times but an increase in exports could only be a good thing.

Turkish producers have already had success in the UK, with Kayra selling through HDN Wines, Doluca through Bibendum and Kavaklidere focusing on independents and the on-trade. The latter has also recruited international advertising agency Sopexa in a bid to boost its profile.

Izmir-based Urla, which makes the award-winning international blend Tempus and was until last year sold in the UK by Armit Wines, said it was close to signing with another leading British importer, while Pamukkale sells its Anfora Trio blend through Marks & Spencer.