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New wine from old grapes

In the cave cellars of Cappadocia, Udo Hirsch and his wife, Hacer Özkaya, are reinventing ancient ways with wine. After decades of travel, Hirsch has become a worldwide authority on Anatolian kilims and prehistory. Now he has put down roots in the volcanic vineyards of Hasan Daği, enthusiastically reviving ancient Turkish grape varieties and viniculture. Cosima Stewart visits a passionate scholar and wine-maker. Photographs by Monica Fritz

  • Monica Fritz

Summer evenings do something unusual to the landscape of Cappadocia. The tawny hummocks of the landscape begin to soften and acquire a purple tint in the last light of the day. It is as if the sunlight seeps out of the sky and into the earth. As we step onto the tarmac of Nevşehir airport, this effect colours the hills around us in the warm, early August air. It is a world away from my last visit in snowbound February, but the idea behind the journey remains the same – wine.

We are met at arrivals by the tall, beaming figure of Udo Hirsch, and in the car conversation turns to the greetings I bear from the worlds of carpets, wine and nearby Georgia. As we speed through the darkening landscape, the moon turning bright above us, the familiar silhouette of Hasan Dağı suddenly appears on the horizon. So many strands of this story can be tied to the volcanic slopes of Hasan Dağı. Its eruptions (the last was roughly between 7400 and 6800 BC) shaped Cappadocia as we know it today. The settling ash formed a soft, tuffaceous stone, giving us strange, eroded rock formations and a whole history of cave-dwelling. The volcano’s flanks still pasture summer flocks, and its powdery black tuff soil, studded with obsidian, produces the delicious wines we have come to taste and discuss.

● Gelveri Winery, Güzelyurt, Aksaray; ● Istanbul stockists: La Cave, Sıraselviler Cad 109, Cihangir, +90 212 243 2405; Dekante, İstinye Park, Sarıyer, +90 212 345 5245 ● Altes Haus Guesthouse:, Reservations: +90 382 451 2525, or +90 555 980 0345

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