When it comes to wine, most people are familiar with the classic wine regions across the New and Old World – such as Bordeaux in France, Napa Valley in the US, and Tuscany in Italy.
However, there are many lesser-known wine regions around the world that are gaining attention for their unique terroir and exceptional wines that they’re producing. These unconventional wine regions are producing wines that are distinct and increasingly high-quality, making them well worth the exploration for wine enthusiasts looking to expand both their palate, and their collection.
Uruguay, South America
Uruguay won’t be the first country that comes to mind when thinking about high-end wine, but this small South American country is making waves in the wine industry.
Uruguay is known for the Tannat grape, a bold and rustic red with rich flavors of dark fruit and earthy notes – producing wines which have strong notes on the palate and notes of tobacco, leather, and a general ‘sous-bois’.
As you may have guessed, the climate in Uruguay is ideal for growing Tannat, with warm summers and cool breezes blowing in across the ocean, creating the perfect conditions for this grape to thrive. Additionally, for the more eco-conscious consumers, many wineries in Uruguay practice sustainable and organic viticulture – meaning their wines are not only delicious, but also environmentally friendly.
Lebanon, Middle East
Lebanon has a long history of winemaking, dating back to ancient times. In recent years however, its wine industry has gained renewed attention for its unique wines that are a blend of Old World and New World styles.
Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, located between the mountains of Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon (and yes, those are their actual names), offers ideals for winemaking with its Mediterranean climate, high altitude vineyards, and well-drained soils – producing a unique terroir rarely found elsewhere on earth.
Wines from Lebanon are known for their distinct flavors and aromas, with reds made from grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot. While their whites are generally considered of a lesser quality than their incredible reds, you’ll also find Lebanese whites such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier.
Israel, Middle East
Another unexpected wine region in the Middle East that is gaining recognition recently, is Israel. Israel has a long history of winemaking, including some of the earliest identified winemakers in the world, but its modern wine industry has evolved significantly in recent decades.
Israel’s wine regions, such as the Galilee and Judean Hills, offer a diverse range of microclimates and soil types, allowing for the cultivation of a wide variety of grape varieties. While absolutely not a requirement, Israel is unsurprisingly a great place to find Kosher wine, so if you’re celebrating Passover or another occasion with practising Jewish friends or family, what better place to source your wine?
Canada, North America
While Canada may be known for its cold winters, it is also gaining recognition as a high quality, wine-producing country, as viticultural practices spread upwards from the United States, and across the Atlantic from Europe.
Canada’s wine regions, such as the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, are known for their cool climate wines that exhibit elegance and freshness – making them an excellent wine for pairing with fresh foods or fish.
Canadian winemakers are producing exceptional whites, most noticeably Chardonnay and Riesling. In addition, the wine industry here is renowned for its focus on quality, sustainable viticulture practices, and innovation in winemaking techniques.
Rounding off our list, we have India. While it may not be a country that immediately comes to mind when considering high-end wines, its wine industry is gaining traction and recognition for its unique wines, and a quality bottle can make for an excellent and interesting addition to your cellar.
India’s wine regions (Nashik in Maharashtra and Karnataka in the south), offer a unique terroir with high altitudes, warm days, and cool nights, creating favorable conditions for the growth of grapes like Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc.