Thomas Barton at the Ayvalık Ayazması

A bottle of wine would be the best choice of gift in any occasion. I have purchased Thomas Barton Rèserve Sauternes 2014 from Dublin Airport on my trip to Turkey -Thomas Barton was one of the most famous Irish Wine Geese-. You can’t beat the feeling of sharing a bottle of excellent wine with your family. I think there is no need to mention how much I love Sauternes wines.36971800_10156454132173377_7796174302977458176_n

This medium amber color full bodied wine had predominantly honey and apricot aromas. It was a very well balanced wine on both aroma and texture profiles with its freshness, richness and creaminess. It is a blend of %80 Sèmillon and %20 Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is made by winemaker Laurent Prada at the domaine of Barton & Guestier.

Barton Family:

Thomas Barton was born in Curraghmore, County Fermanagh, Ireland in 1695. After his marriage in 1722 and the birth of his son William, he left Ballyshannon to explore the Mediterranean. In 1725, he settled in Bordeaux where he started exporting wines to Ireland and Holland. He quickly became the most important wine merchant in Bordeaux having built a solid reputation among prestigious customers all over Europe. His loyal clients nicknamed him “French Tom.”

In 1743 Thomas Barton asked his only son, William, to join him in his business although William was perhaps not of the same stature and the two failed to see eye to eye. Thomas Barton and Daniel Guestier created the Barton & Guestier company and Hugh Barton, Thomas’s grandson, joins the company in 1786. The company did so well that Hugh Barton was able to purchase Château Langoa in 1821 and a plot from the Léoville domaine in 1826, which he subsequently renamed Léoville Barton. He then purchased land in Kildare County, Ireland in 1835 upon which he built Straffan House. Since 2010 Groupe Castel is the shareholder of Barton & Guestier.

After Hugh Barton, three generations followed at the head of the family’s two Bordeaux properties although they spent the majority of their lives in Ireland rather than France. Ronald was the first Barton to take over the family’s activities in Bordeaux. Ronald did not have children of his own yet wanted to hand the reins over to a member of his family in the aim of preserving the family domaine that he himself had inherited from his ancestors. When Anthony Barton, the current owner, wrote to him in order to express his gratitude, Ronald’s response was that ”It is not me you should thank, but Hugh. I have simply acted as a guardian to his vineyards and have always considered it my duty to pass them on to my heir in the best condition possible.”

After completing his studies in Ireland and then in England, Anthony moved to Bordeaux in 1951. Anthony’s first harvest in 1951 was so catastrophic that his uncle Ronald told him, ”Another harvest like this and I will have to sell”. Fortunately the next two years were much higher in quality although the prices remained below the profitability threshold. The Barton & Guestier merchant company was ticking over although not with excellent results. In 1954, Seagram acquired a 50% share in the company before becoming majority shareholder a few years later. Anthony continued to work as Export Director up until 1967 when he created his own merchant company named ”Les Vins Fins Anthony Barton”.

In 1978, at the age of 22, Lilian joined her father at his merchant company and obtained the DUAD wine tasting diploma at the University of Bordeaux. For over 30 years they have divided their responsibilities between the Saint Julien vineyards and the merchant business ‘Les Vins Fins Anthony Barton’, where they were joined by Lilian’s husband, Michel Sartorius. Lilian Barton has now taken over from her father in running the wine properties and family merchant company. She has since been joined by her two children, Mélanie and Damien. Mélanie Barton Sartorius, the family’s 1st Oenologist, took on the role of Technical Director in 2013 at Chateau Mauvesin Barton in Moulis (Médoc), a domaine that was purchased by the family in 2011.

Today, the house where Thomas’s son William was born is a pub called Dicey Reilly’s and it is one of the oldest pubs of Ballyshannon in Ireland featuring a huge painting with Thomas Barton, his ships and wines. Also, the Straffan House (K Club) in Kildare was built in 1835 by Hugh Barton which served as the family home for the following generations and in which Anthony Barton, the current owner of the vineyards in Bordeaux, was born in 1930 (From http://www.barton-family-wines.com/ and https://www.barton-guestier.com/).

Irish Wine Geese:

Visiting Bordeaux in 1787, Thomas Jefferson, then serving as the first ambassador to France from the United States, found time among other, presumably more pressing, engagements to advise his President, George Washington, on his wine cellar. He reported back on the leading producers in the regions: ‘Gernon, Barton, Johnston, Foster, Skinner, Copinger and McCarthy’. The presence of Irish names at the centre of Bordeaux winemaking – that activity at which France most quintessentially excels – might surprise, for while the mass emigration of the Irish to America in the nineteenth century is well known, at earlier dates, too, political pressures and confessional persecution had led thousands to seek a new life in continental Europe.

From the Flight of the Earls at the beginning of the seventeenth century to the mass exodus following the Crown’s dishonouring of the Treaty of Limerick in 1691, Irish men and women, mostly, but by no means exclusively, Catholic, set off from Ireland’s shores, forced into uncertain exile. Collectively these waves of Ireland’s finest are known as the ‘Wild Geese’ and while in the process Ireland lost generations of leaders, the exiles went on to make an enormous contribution to European culture. The numbers are remarkable given the dangers of the journey made in small boats and the distances to be covered, as William Butler Yeats put it ‘the wild geese spread / The grey wing upon every tide’.

Many émigrés achieved fame and distinction fighting in the armies of France and Spain, others as scholars in Irish colleges from Rome to Prague to Seville. Others, still, entered the wine trade in Bordeaux and established great châteaux many of which still bear their names. In addition to those mentioned by Jefferson are the families of Lynch, Dillon, Burke, Roche and Walsh. The move into wine making was natural for these exiles as they developed pre-existing connections with the wineries of France. In the early eighteenth century Dublin imported more casks from Bordeaux then the whole of England and Scotland combined. The English peer Lord Chesterfield commented sourly ‘one gentleman in ten in Ireland are impoverished by the great quantity of claret which, for mistaken notions of hospitality and dignity, they think it necessary should be drunk in their houses’. Even worse, he continued, ‘the affectation of drinking wine has got into the middle and lower ranks of people’. The Wild Geese winemakers of Bordeaux were among the most innovative viticultural pioneers of the eighteenth century. (From https://ballyfin.com/).

Ayvalık Ayazması: (where I am standing on the picture)

The Hagiasma originated from Hagias (sacred) and ma (water) and referred to Turkish language as the “Ayazma”. Orthodox people dedicated their water resources to saints and they believed that these holy people gave spiritual and bodily healing to other people with the help of these water sources. Although it is a cult of Christian belief, Muslims also followed this tradition, drinking and pouring on them these sources of holy water to seek the ways of healing.

The most famous and important religious structure of Ayvalık was Panagia Phaneromeni Ayazma. Panagia means “Mother Mary” and Phaneromeni means “from the sky.” Panagia’s icon was found in 1852 with an excavation after a dream. After this miracle and discovery of holy source water the original Hagisma was built. Ongoing excavations were unravelled an inscription from the pool in 1867.

In this inscription, it was told that the first hagaisma was made with the expenditures of Khioslu Captain Mihalis Papazis. The original structure was completely rebuilt in 1890 and the Panagia Phaneromeni Ayazma became the religious building of the city until 1922…During the excavations it was confirmed that this place was not a church but only a wellness center Hagisma with the use of Holy Waters. It lost its effectiveness when the region was totally captured by the Turks.

Between the years of 1850 and 1922 this holy place received visitors from many lands in the hope of recovery. People from Fhocia,Balikkesir,Istanbul, Mitillini,Samos were recorded and also from far places such as Hydra Island and Rumeli. People often stayed within Ayazma up to 7 days drinkinng the holy water and pouring on themselves. We understand from the records various patients such as Deaf people,mental patients, epilepsic cases, hearing problems, high fever patients,depression cases, stroke patients,blinds and all other various cases were coming to this specific Ayazma to seek recovery. The second largest hospital in the Aegean area was built with the donations of the patients visiting Ayazma. This hospital today serves as Primary Sakarya school.

In 2011, with the excavations of Balıkesir Museum’s carried out with the consultation of Prof. Dr. Omer Özyigit, discovered the pools of 1867 and 1890 hagiasmas’. Professor Dr. Ömer Özyiğit and his team have prepared the surveying, restitution and restoration projects. The project was approved after one year in 2012 by the Bursa Council of Monuments. The financial efforts to rebuild the Hagisma has started with the leadership of the Ayvalık Municapility in 2016. Under the leadership of two cousins from Ayvalık namely Muhtar Kent and Şerif Kaynar the project was completed thanks to the people who have contributed towards financing.. The Panagia Phaneromeni Ayazma is now open to public visitors (From http://ayvalikayazmasi.com/ayvalik-ayazmasi-tarihcesi.html).

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