Corvus, wines from Bozcaada

Strong, distinctive wines from centuries-old traditions.

by 19 October 2009

Corvus is a young name in Turkey's fast-developing world of wine. Architect Resit Soley had a dream, and he planted it on the barren lands of Bozcaada. Corvus Vineyard was founded on August 2002, and its seedlings came into leaf in 2003.

Throughout his busy life as an architect, Resit Soley had put his heart into his work, approaching it with meticulous care. He applied the same dedication during the plantation of Corvus Vineyard and the subsequent operations during its development. He prepared each seedling with his own hands. He was on the land through all stages of its development.

Producing wine in Bozcaada, a windy, thyme-scented, small and uncultivated Aegean island that is full of bright, virgin beaches is a step beyond commerce: it was the first step in a mission to reach a goal. The Corvus Wine Factory was acquired in early 2004, and it was subsequently equipped with the latest technology in a record time of 4 months. The vineyard's first harvest was also obtained in 2004. And, even though still young, the earliest products have become amazing and delightful wines.

The Latin word Corvus means crow. The inspiration for the selection of this name came from the crows of Bozcaada. The founder Resit Soley has been connected with the island for quite a long time. He saw that Bozcaada was losing its ancient wine culture, and in order to reverse the trend, he started this business. Through his 25-year design experience, he blended tradition and technology, and breathed new life into the island’s wine culture.

Soley believes that the road to good wines inevitably leads through good vineyards. Detailed soil analyses were made and meteorological documents of the last 20 years were studied before the vineyards were planted in 2002. He worked with French and Italian teams while selecting the seedlings, and with a team from Israel while constructing the irrigation system.

Most of the Corvus Vineyards are situated on the southern hillsides (Yerebakan Mevkii) of the island, and overall they cover an area of 62 acres (25 hectares). In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, the local varieties Cavus and Vasilaki are also grown in these vineyards. Okuzgozu and Bogazkere grapes are not grown on the island, but they are brought here from from traditional, non-irrigated vineyards in Elazig and Diyarbakir.

Corvus works with the objective of protecting the local range of grape varieties, and to use them to make high quality wines that would put the island onto the map in world markets. The island series made from 100% regional grapes such as Cavus, Vasilaki, Kuntra and Karalahana represents one of the first steps taken to achieve this aim.

Cavus grapes were originally planted as a purely dessert grape: Corvus made white wine from them for the first time, and named it Teneia. US President Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Benedict XVI are among the people who were able to sample Teneia during their visit to Turkey.

Resit Soley tells the story of his project, which required a tremendous amount of devotion and work, “The people of what was once known as Tenedos, and which is now Bozcaada, lived from vinegrowing for 4,000 years. This knowledge, which had developed for hundreds of years, was being gradually eroded.

For 20 years, I saw the vineyards disintegrating, falling into disuse, or, worse, being physically uprooted. I wanted to say “Stop!” to this fast-spreading collapse. In this sense, Corvus is a project that says, “Stop!” The project was designed to bring renewed respect for the vineyards that originally gave life to Bozcaada, as islanders owe both their pasts and futures to them. The idea was to combine tradition and innovation, with the help of 25 years' experience in design.”

Last May, Jancis Robinson, one of the most celebrated wine tasters and wine writers, was invited to Turkey to be introduced to Turkish wines. During her visit, she allocated a full day to Bozcaada and visited the Corvus vineyards and factory. Robinson gave consistently high scores to Corvus wines. More specifically, Corvus Corpus 2004, made using Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz grapes, and Corvus Blend No.2 2005, a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Karalahana grapes, are rated at 17 and 16.5 out of 20 respectively, and were the highest-scoring Turkish wines of all.

Corvus wines can be bought from specialist wineshops, top restaurants and hotels in many cities, as well as in the two exclusive Corvus shops in Istanbul.

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