Let's talk Turkish... wine!

By this time, you probably think I'm crazy, but actually Turkish wine making tradition dates back beyond many of the world's best known wine regions (estimated 7000BC.) It's also the fourth-largest wine producing region in the world so you'd better listen up.

Consider yourself lucky that you've stumbled upon this post - you're ahead of the curve. The bittersweet news is, you won't be for long. This Thursday, February 24th, the Wines of Turkey will be kicking off their international campaign in London, aiming to educate the world on Turkish wine. The event will include a grand tasting of the organization's 7 active wineries as well as testimony and education as well as to hear testimony from leading international wine experts, historians, DNA experts and viticulturalists.

This isn't their only stop though - the Wines of Turkey also plans to participate in some of the world's most prestigious trade events such as ProWein, the London International Wine Fair and Vinexpo.

In the US, Kavakliderie Wines Co. is the best-known Turkish producer which has been a highly-celebrated producer for many years, changing the minds (and palates) of skeptics over and over again.

At BAT, we have worked with the Turkish producer - Vinkara Wines - an up-and-coming winery determined to change the world's perception about Turkish wines... and we think they can do it!

Sure, the country's top grapes are those that can be quite difficult to pronounce such as Narince (likened to Chardonnay) and Kalecik Karasi (likened to Pinot Noir)- but with so many other hard-to-pronounce varieties coming into the limelight at the same time (re: Gruener Veltliner & Agiogritiko) this is only a minor challenge.

So if you're looking for something new, or even if you're not, keep an eye on Turkish wines, their success has only just begun.



Action in the Nutmeg State

There seems to be a lot of action lately fermenting in our own backyards here in Connecticut!

First, there has been a craft beer movement forming among many of the state's breweries and brewpubs as local legislators introduce a new bill which, if/when passed, will establish official state support for the development of the CT Beer Trail. The purpose of the legislation is to promote "…the manufacturing and sale of Connecticut made beer" and would help to bring greater distribution to many of Connecticut's fantastic breweries. In addition, 90% of Americans now live within 50 miles of a craft brewery (according to figures released by Beer Marketer's Insights) and implementing a CT Beer Trail would help in supporting and leveraging local businesses. Just as it has already been done on the wine side with the collaboration of 20 Connecticut vineyards, I hope that the creation of a network such as the CT Beer Trail will help to connect local beer enthusiasts and attract out-of-state visitors alike.

While living in Connecticut, I have been able to sample the suds from three local breweries and was thrilled, with the implementation of this organization, to learn about even more teams brewing here in the state. So, secondly, I was thrilled this week to read an article in the Hartford Courant about a team in Manchester, Onyx Spirits, that is producing a limoncello, vodka, and - most intriguing to me - moonshine. While there is still much to unearth about this start-up distillery and when their products may first be available in local package stores, restaurants or bars, it is refreshing to see that there are other passionate liquor entrepreneurs in Connecticut.

I look forward to following the continued news about all of these local organizations!

Cheers! SJ


What's a "Discontinuous" Still

OK, here's one for the real spirits geeks out there. In researching some background material on Pisco requested by Camper English of Alcademics fame, we came across several references to "discontinuous" stills. I've been in the industry for more than 20 years and up till now had never heard that word.

My understanding is that there are basically two kinds of heat distillation (cold distillation like that used to make applejack is another method:

1.Continuous also known as column stills. Continuous means the system cycles product through the columns for a continuous stream of output.

2. Alembic or pot stills, which are used for batch distillation. In this method spirits are produced in batches, the heads and tails are discarded and the "heart" of the distillate is used for the final product. Output is of course in batches. (That's Johnny Shuler, Master Distiller at Pisco Porton by some classic cognac stills imported from France.)

There are pros and cons for each of these methods and I'm not going to go into that here...I bet everyone who reads this column knows them already.

But this "discontinuous" thing is bugging me. I reached out to friends Shelley Alger at Cleargrape who kindly forwarded me source material from INDECOPI, the Peruvian agency that looks after intellecutal property, and writer Greg Dicum who wrote "The Pisco Book" which should be coming out soon. My supposition is that it probably stems from a bad translation of some Spanish word in some regulation and then got included and reused in other references.

My problem with the word is that it presupposes the standard is a continuous still. In reality the original still design is the alembic which goes back to the Alchemists in the Middle Ages and the Arab discovery of distillation before that. It's sort of like us calling a car a "horseless carriage". That's an anachronism, but a discontinuous still is just plain wrong.

I would like to know if anyone has seen the use of "discontinuous" still in any other references? And does it bug anyone else?