The Öküzgözü Turkish Grape Variety
What's the best Turkish Wine? Öküzgözü wine makes it's case for the best Turkish wine.
Of the local varieties of Turkish grapes, Öküzgözü is one of ıf not the the fruitiest wine grapes in Turkey. It sits alongside a few other local Turkish grape varieties known for their distinct strong fruit flavours including the Barburi grape from near Antioch, the Çal Karası from near Denizli, the Kalecik Karası from near Ankara, the Karalahna, Karasakız, and Kuntra from the Bozcaada region, the Papazkarası from Thrace, the Urla Karası from Izmir, and the Merzifon karası from the Black sea.
Öküzgözü though tends to be medium-bodied with significant acidity, It is often referred to as a round wine not dissimilar to a merlot, but the fruitiness and acidity make it more distinct. It also tends towards purple colors in the glass, likely due to tits distinct black, round grapes. In fact this round, dark berry is what gives Öküzgözü it's name- it means 'Eye of the Ox'.
The Öküzgözü grape grows throughout Turkey but its home region is in the Northern Mesopotamia area near Elazig - basically in the basin of land between the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates river. The grape is generally recognized to be one of the oldest winemaking varieties known in the world.
What does Öküzgözü wine taste like?
First off, fruit and sweetness that you feel in the round mouth with some cherry, pomegranate and berry flavours. The taste has low to medium tannins but those are pushed aside by the more noticeable
acidity. In fact, I would consider Öküzgözü unique in that the acidity balances the sweetness and fruitiness, making for a very pleasant fruit forward wine.
What wine is Öküzgözü like?
I've seen numerous professional sommelier's try the Turkish Öküzgözü grape variety and they most often liken it to an Argentinian Malbec, I think in part due to its purple hue, but also to the distinct cherry and berry flavours that seem softened by hint of milk chocolate.
If you like Malbec or fruitier Merlot wines you'll like Öküzgözü wines.
What are some recommended Öküzgözü wines?
A few Öküzgözü wines to look for would include
Kavaklidere Pendore Öküzgözü,
Kayra Vintage Öküzgözü (very good!),
Kayra Versus Alpagut Öküzgözü,
Diren Collection Öküzgözü
Kayra Buzbağ Öküzgözü
Sevilen Plato Öküzgözü
Akın Gürbüz Winemakers Selection Öküzgözü
Öküzgözü grapes are often blended with Boğazkere variety grapes to create a blend which is distinctly Turkish. The Öküzgözü contributing fruit and acidity and the Boğazkere bringing lots of body and tannins. If you prefer something rounder/ softer I recommend getting a monocepage of Öküzgözü which are relatively easy to find.