Aylin Öney Tan
It was Nov. 28, 2011. All over the world, wine enthusiasts were savoring a rare moment. Their eyes fixed on their laptops, computers or cell phones, they held their breath. Some poured a little more wine into their glasses, many took a silent sip. The venue of the next big conference was about to be announced.
They were all following the online meeting of their network, without yet knowing where it was being held. They were soon to find out that the broadcast was from a roof terrace (that of Mikla) in Istanbul. The laptop on the meeting desk was carried out to the terrace and turned toward the stunning view of the Golden Horn and Topkapı Palace.
The announcement was made: “See you all here, in Turkey, next year!”
The news was greeted with cheers and “wows,” glasses were raised in anticipation of the excitement of next November. A year later, Turkey finally hosted the fifth meeting of the European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC) in İzmir between Nov. 9 and 11. From all over the word, wine bloggers, writers, editors, enthusiasts, producers, buyers, consultants, journalists, or just simply wine lovers, gathered to find about Turkish wines. Actually, the event now goes by the name “Digital Wine Communications Conference” and participants were not confined merely to Europe, but countries as far a field as Taiwan and Thailand, or Australia and Argentina.
Turkey was chosen as the fifth venue of the great gathering over competition from other candidate countries like France, Poland, Hungary and Moldova. The steadfast efforts of the Wines of Turkey Platform (WoT) are in great measure the reason for this success. WoT, established by Ayça and Taner Öğütoğlu, a couple dedicated to promoting Turkish wine worldwide, managed to gain the support of a great number of Turkish wine producers for their cause.
The event was also not just about wine. The EWBC is a conference about “digital communications” where the common topic is wine. Actually, few bloggers who attended were exclusively wine writers. There were food and travel bloggers, marketers, consumers, developers, archaeologists and olive oil producers among participants.
The key word must be “wired” for this group, as their love of finding out all about wine wires them together from all distant corners of the globe, and eventually got them together, this time in İzmir.
This year’s theme was appropriately chosen as “The Source.” Anatolia is referred to as the source of all grapes. One session was of particular interest; Dr. Patrick McGovern, an authority on the history of wine, and Dr. José Vouillamoz, an expert on DNA structures of grape varieties, took a look at recent DNA and archaeological research tracing the genealogical origins of grapes.
The participants were excited to find out about indigenous grape varieties, most overcoming their prejudice against Turkish wine. The challenge of trying to pronounce local grape names like Öküzgözü & Boğazkere was subject to jokes tweeted in the network of participants.
Famous wine blogger Alder Yarrow described the experience as “a deep dive into the burgeoning Turkish wine scene,” while the words of Roger Kolbu of Aperitif Magazine summed it all up: “This year’s edition of the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference in İzmir, Turkey, was THE best organized conference of the three I’ve attended so far. The different sessions, debates and tastings were all superbly conducted. The speakers and the panelists did all an excellent job and they really surpassed my expectations. I especially enjoyed the Grand Terroir Experience led by Charles Metcalfe and Tim Atkin. My concerns regarding the location of the conference were totally unjustified. I look forward to tasting more wines from Turkey now.”
Bite of the week
Cork of the Week
Tim Atkin, Master of Wine, tweeted: “2010 Suvla Sur just been served. One of my wines of the week.” Mine too. Cheers!
Fork of the Week
İsa Bal, the legendary sommelier of The Fat Duck, paired the smoky yogurt of Denizli (grabbed from my ‘1001 Ways of Yogurt’ presentation) with smoked trout from Swissotel buffet. A smash hit! The eyes of the sommelier of Mikla, Sabiha Apaydın, popped out!