We all know that France make some delicious wines. Italy makes some perfect food wines. Chile make some incredible Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlots and Australia dominate the fruit-forward power wines. However there are so many countries making fantastic wines that fly under the radar, countries that you don’t immediately consider wine-making regions. It’s easy to forget about these as they’re not always in your face, they don’t always have the marketing budgets available and they are usually produced in much smaller quantities.
So where do you look if you are wanting to try something a little different. Try something a little unusual, that has a story and a history. There are so many to choose from, but here are our top 5 selections for wine countries that fly under the radar.
It may fly under the radar, but it certainly holds a stable footing on the European wine market. In fact it’s the 6th largest wine producer in Europe, and with over 6000 years of wine-making history, that’s hardly a surprise. Known more for its white wines, we’re starting to see some real quality on the red side, with Merlot and Pinot Noir flourishing in the south east European country. Due to the hot dry summers, Romanian wine continues to enjoy a rise in popularity, it may not be a dinner party staple just yet but it’s not far away. If you’re looking to try some native grapes, go for the dry white wine Fetească Regală or the light bodied fruity red wine Băbească Neagră.
With over 1,000 indigenous grape varietals planted in Turkey, it’s a surprise that it continues to fly under the radar. Known more for Raki (an alcoholic anise flavoured drink), Turkey quietly produces some fine wines. Some claim that Turkey would have likely been one of the very first territories producing wine. The Marmara and Aegean regions are renowned for their viticulture, so keep an eye out for Çal Karası, Papazkarası and the light red Öküzgözü from the Black Sea region.
In 1998 there were only five wineries in a region that has a rich history of viticulture, now there are over 30 and that number is set to grow. Despite the internal conflicts that have ravaged the country, Lebanon has continued to produce over a half a million cases of wine annually. Lebanese winemakers continue to favour French varietal for their wine-making regions, so if you’re looking to pick up a wine from this Asian location, then you’re likely going to see lots of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cinsault and Grenache as they are all grape varieties that flourish in the southern Beqaa Valley.
South African wine is enjoying a big boom at the moment, thanks to the fact that they continue to produce delicious wines at very affordable prices. There are so many wine-making regions that make up this emerging country but Stellenbosch stands out above the rest. Sitting 28 miles east of Cape Town this region is renowned for producing high quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinotage and Shiraz. The average temperature during the summer growing season is just slightly north of that experienced in Bordeaux. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are often blended together in this region to produce refreshing, crisp, lively wines.
Did you know that there are over 28,000 wineries in Slovenia with over 70% of the wine production being white. However less than 10% of the 80-90 million litres produced each year is ever exported, which explains why it’s on this list. The most popular wine regions in Slovenia are the Drava Valley, Lower Sava Valley and Slovenian Littoral. The region has a continental climate with cold, dry winters and hot summers, however due to the diverse geography, there are several micro-climates offering a wide variety of wines. If you can, dig out a Rebula wine from Slovenia which is the Italian grape variety Ribolla Gialla, I’m sure you’ll be delighted with the delicious flavour.