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New Zealand has long had Turkish connections, not least its shared history in Gallipoli, plus a steady stream of New Zealanders who have taught in Turkey or worked as diplomats. One New Zealand leading talent in Istanbul today is the folk/rock singer-songwriter Dylan Ware. Listen to his song 'No Honey' on Spotify.
According to the 2013 census, there were around a thousand Turkish New Zealanders, more than 80% of them living in North Island. The figure is now thought to be closer to 3000. They include the London-born New Zealand-Turkish actress Ayşe Tezel.
Cornucopia's wine correspondent Kevin Gould writes about the bond forged in fire between Turkey and New Zealand in Cornucopia 24: 'The story of Gallipoli is bound up in Turkish history and in the consciousness of Britain, New Zealand and Australia. It plays its part in the Greek myths. Gallipoli is where Xerxes crossed his army into Europe on a bridge of boats, and where Leander swam the Dardanelles to meet Hero in Sestos. It is also where, for nine months in 1915, a campaign was fought that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of brave young men, among them the flower of Turkish youth, the most promising Australians and the cream of the Kiwis, as well as countless young men from the British Isles and France.'
But the article was in fact about wine, and Gould had just met the late Güven Nil, pioneer of Turkey's wine-making renaissance. There is another curious link few know about.
'Nil planted cabernet and merlot, shiraz and cabernet franc, and chardonnay and sauvignon blanc grapes,' explains Gould. 'What he or Kutman [owner of Dolucca] could not have expected was the fact that their wines, produced close to where the Gallipoli campaign had been most hardfought, would not only redeem the land, but also assume a character that is uncannily Antipodean. Those familiar with, say, the award-winning wines of Michael Seresin in Marlborough, New Zealand, will recognise the same nose-note of mimosa and the same long melon finish as in Sarafin’s Sauvignon Blanc. (Seresin has recently planted Tuscan olive trees on his land, which produce the same round fruit and oil with the same depth of flavour as that pressed from Nil’s Ayvalık trees.)'
Looking for a Turkish gift in New Zealand, the place to go is Mediterranean Living in Gisborne in North Island. In the nearby Hamilton is the excellent Mediterranean Kitchen, just the place for a Hünkar Beğendi and a cup of Turkish coffee.
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