Selçuk Vineyard woos experts, philosophers
Nazlan Ertan - İZMİR“If your tastes are complex, have a Pythagoras,” said the waiter. “If you want more of a fresh, fruity taste, go for Bias.”
No, we were not at the enrollment of a course on ancient wise men, nor were we in a smoky philosophy café. Rather, we were surrounded by lavender pots, olive trees and acres of vineyards in Selçuk, an hour’s drive from İzmir, in a place aptly called Yedi Bilgeler (Seven Sages) which names its wines after the seven sages of Greece. Stupefied by the view, tickled by the smell of “canard confit,” and tempted by the promise of a nap in the pool area under the olive trees, we go the full range: Lassos, a delicate rose with flowery and fruity undertones; then Anaxogoras, a fruity Chardonnay; and then Bias, a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz and Merlot grapes that won the French Vinalies Internationales 2014 award.
The owner of the vineyard, Bilge Yamen, whose first name means “Sage” in Turkey, may well be termed the Eighth Sage in the equation: It was his curiosity about history and philosophy, combined with his love of food and wine, that created the vineyard. While establishing the vineyard, he wanted to pay tribute to the great men who laid the foundations of rational thinking 2,500 years ago. So all the wines we have produced so far were named after one of these philosophers: Anaxagoras, Lassos, Thales, Solon and Bias. We still have to taste the remaining two.
It is Yamen’s sense of humor that led him to name his wines after the philosophers. “I thought the complexity of Pythagoras merited a wine with complex tastes,” he said, adding that “Anaxogoras, a poet from nearby Urla, claimed the name of our Chardonnay, a full bodied white.”
Yamen and his wife/business partner/medical colleague Gülgün also have a vast library, not only of books on wines and culinary arts, but history, geography, philosophy and art. “My dream is to have a Seven Sages Publishing branch,” he said.
Gülgün and Bilge Yamen are not the only doctors around İzmir who have decided to undertake the hard job of winemaking. What makes doctors turn from the operating table to wine barrels?
“I think doctors, in the course of their long and laborious education, get hooked on learning,” said Yamen.
“So we start learning about history, philosophy and, of course, the culture around the whole art of living. Our study tours abroad enable us to acquire a large perspective, comparing and designing what we can do at home. Add to this our knowledge of biochemistry and microbiology, then some of us find ourselves among vines in our middle age,” he added.