Wine Through the Ages

Armed with Hugh Johnsons excellent ‘The Story of Wine’ I began my fascinating journey through time and relative dimensions in wine.

There is no pinpointed precise time and place but it is thought that wine making could go back 2 million years.

My journey began around 8000 years BC in a time known as the Neolithic B Stone age period. According to 'The Story of Wine' ,archaeologists have found evidence of grape pips and therefore, the likelyhood of wine making at Catal Huyuk in Turkey, Damascus in Syria and Byblos in the Lebanon.

www.winesofturkey.org notes an area known as  Grand Terrain which relates to a geographical area from the Caucasus, Anatolla and Mesopotamia. A range of climates influence different wine styles. The Kavaklidere Winery was the first winery in the private sector and established in 1929 in Ankara. Their white ‘Cankaya’ 2007, sourced from my local restaurant the Nargile, is a blend of local varieties Emir, Sultana and Narice giving a lightly herbaceous and citrusy dry wine which would work well with simple seafood.

Our Lebanese wine was represented by Chateau Ksara and their ‘Reserve Du Couvent 2007, a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Full on brambly Syrah fruit sidles up to red berries. The finish is minerally with a pleasant tannin structure. £8.50 www.thewinesociety.com

Other Lebanese wines available in the UK include Chateau Musar (independents)  and Massaya (Wine Society)

Moving forward in time to a timeline of around 7000- 5000 years BC and to Georgia where the oldest pips of cultivated vines  (you can tell by the shape of the grape pips) have been discovered south of the Caucasus Mountains. At around 6000 BC, Russian archaeologists discover a transition from wild vines to cultivated vines. Sunny summers and mild, frost free winters provide a good climate for grape growing.

Our 2 wines for the tasting were kindly sent over directly from the Milada Winery and again sing the praises of indigenous varieties.

Firstly, the white Milada Rkatsiteli 2009 with its fragrant almost Muscat/Viognier like scent. In the mouth there’s a fresh but balanced citrusy acidity with medium bodied peachy note and a lingering minerality.

The  red Milada Saperavi 2008 has forward juicy dark berry notes with hints of blueberry. The tannin is noticeable (a trait of the grape) and it’s full bodied with good dark berry flavours. Serve with grilled red meats.

According to www.greekwinemakers.com, the earliest evidence of winemaking in Greece is a stone foot press at Vathipetro, a Minoan villa on Crete, dated to 1600 BC. It is believed that winemaking was bought to Crete by the Phoenicians.

Skouras Cuvee Prestige 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Vin De Pays De Peloponnese is really ripe on the sniff with red berries and violets. In the mouth, it’s medium bodied ripe and juicy with well rounded savoury tannins. £8.95 www.thewinesociety.com

With the timeline sitting at 800BC we have made our way to Italy. Sicily was once called Magna Graecia or Greater Greece. Vines were staked as opposed to being grown around trees or along the ground. Sicily and the South of Italy still abound with grapes of Greek origin. Mandarossa Fiano 2008, Sicily makes great spring/summer drinking with layers of melon and herb interspersed with tangy citrus and almond. £6.50 www.thewinesociety.com

This tasting was a great excuse to get right off the well trodden wine path and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for these countries where wine making began.

*Aberdeen Wine Appreciators meet around 9 times a year, memberships are currently available. For More information check out  http://www.wineuncorkededucation.co.uk/site/awa

 

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