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Chris
San Jose

General Travel

What are the most unexpectedly good countries for wine?

This week's episode of Amateur Traveler is about the Island of Madeira which is known for it's wine. We have all heard of Burgundy or Champagne in France, but where did you go that you were surprised how good the wine was?


31 Answers

top answer by
Sarah from Alicante

Spain has great wines. The best-known is Rioja from the north of Spain. However, the Alicante region has some wonderful wines too. You can visit the Enrique Mendoza vineyard, near Benidorm, or Bodega Xalo in the Xaló Valley, where you can taste some wines, buy award-winning wines and cavas for just a few euros, or buy local honey, dates and olive oil.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Spain (country)
  2. Alicante (city)
  3. Benidorm (city)
  4. Xaló (city)
6 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Tiffany from Corvallis

I was surprised by Hungary. There are quite a few wineries in the region around Lake Balaton. I sampled a few in Tihany, then drank wine every day during my Budapest trip. I didn't try any reds, but the whites are complex, flavorful, and nicely balanced - crisp, not overly sweet, but not dry either.

Though Spain is known more for their reds, I love their whites as well. The albariño is fantastic. Maria Alta is my favorite, but it hasn't been exported yet.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Hungary (country)
  2. Lake Balaton (city)
  3. Tihany (city)
  4. Budapest (city)
6 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Natasha from Santa Monica

It's been some time since i was there but memories of wine country in the NelsonMarlborough regions of New Zealand have stayed with me, especially the Rieslings and Ice wines (which I'm not normally a fan of).  


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Nelson (city)
  2. Marlborough (region)
5 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Ross from Fort Collins

I'm going to go with MoroccoI love to drink and morocco made it very difficult but I had a chance to try a lot of local wines at a western style upscale hotel bar, and wow I was so surprised at how great the local wines were! I was going on a week without a drink at the time so that mite have had something to do with it!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Morocco (country)
5 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Sonja from Belmont-sur-Lausanne

Switzerland is usually a surprise when visitors arrive on ground transportation and see vineyards climbing up little openings between Alps. Other than the high quality taste, one thing I love is the exclusivity of the production. Winemakers have such small areas to grow that they sell their wines in co-ops in villages. There is even a patch of vineyard in the middle of Lausanne downtown which still produces wine for generations now. Pinot Noir and Chasselas grapes each make up about a third of the total wine made in Switzerland. There is only a tiny percent of Swiss wine that is exported – mostly to Germany. I guess France likes their own and is still upset because some local Swiss wine was labelled Champagne in the village of Champagne, Switzerland.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Switzerland (country)
  2. Champagne (city)
4 thanks


answered by
Alisa from Dublin

Hungary is a wonderful country for wine. There are about 15 different regions throughout the country that focus on different varieties of grapes. The history of wine making in Hungary is quite interesting - WWII really took a toll on the industry. Hungary is most famously known for a sweet wine called Tokaji. It is quite delicious - and I generally don't like sweet wines. I lived in Hungary for almost 2 years and only managed to visit a few wineries in only one region - that was a mistake!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Hungary (country)
4 thanks


answered by
Breanna from Los Angeles

Cape Town has some amazing wines! Wines from Stellenbosch are some of the best I've ever had. Constantia Glen winery is one of the bests to visit if you want something closer to Cape Town. The food they're serving is absolutely incredible and the sunset over their vineyard is one of the most memorable sights to ever see. The wine of choice in that region: Pinotage!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Cape Town (city)
  2. Stellenbosch (city)
  3. Constantia Glen (restaurant)
4 thanks


answered by
Jacey & Scott from Fort Collins

I have found myself enjoying two wines back home that are from some surprising areas: assyrtiko from Greece-feels like a sauv blanc with more character and Gruber Veltliner from Austria, similar to a dry reisling.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Greece (country)
  2. Austria (country)
4 thanks


answered by
Aram from Cologne

Georgia, Armenia.

Georgian wine is well known in Armenia as a great one. As far as I know water and sun have lot of influence on grapes and those are very good and strong in those two countries. Cannot give any helpful info concerning Georgia as I have been there couple of times.

Concerning Armenia can tell that there is village called Areni in Yeghegnadzor where the greatest wine in Armenia made and once a year people organize some kind of wine festival.

Last year in summer we have got few bottles of semi-dry and dry wines and also peach vodka.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Georgia (country)
  2. Armenia (country)
  3. Areni (city)
  4. Yeghegnadzor (city)
4 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Scott from Fort Collins

Greece makes some fantastic wines.  One of my favorites is called Assyrtico and is a white from Santorini.  Portugal used to be pretty much known for Port, but they really upped their game recently, and make outstanding reds from the Duoro region.  Austria and Germany also have some great wines, particularly Rieslings and one of my favorite "every day" wines called Gruner Veltliner from Austria.  


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Greece (country)
  2. Santorini (island)
  3. Portugal (country)
  4. Austria (country)
  5. Germany (country)
4 thanks


answered by
claus

Countries like Turkey Slovenia and Moldova makes suprisingly good wine.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Turkey (country)
  2. Slovenia (country)
  3. Moldova (country)
4 thanks


answered by
Russell from Columbia, South Carolina

Chris, Bulgaria was a shocker for me.  Two varietals that stand out are Mavrud and Gamza.  Both red, the mavrud is similar to merlot and the gamza reminds one of a pinot noir.  I have traveled there a few times and the wines are delicious.  So is the grape brandy Rakia.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Bulgaria (country)
4 thanks


answered by
Chaundra from Woodward, Oklahoma

Slovenia - this is a country whose wine is just now making its way to the more esoteric wine shops in Europe and has been a real delight in the few bottles we've had a chance to taste. Definitely on my list for the future.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Slovenia (country)
3 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Christene from Kansas City (Missouri)

Austria and the Liguria  of Italy. (Cinque Terre National park is there...8 miles of hiking trails between 5 amazing towns...vineyards and lemon groves on one side, the sea on the other. *sigh*. 


And though it's not unexpected, the wines in Provence can't be beat. Start in Arles and work your way up through Orange (France) Beaune (where some of the most expensive wines are made), Lyon Dijon and all the little towns in between. You will find your Chateneuf de Pape, Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, etc..plentiful and cheap. And of course Burgundy. But it is just so good. :) 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Austria (country)
  2. Liguria (attraction)
  3. Cinque Terre (region)
  4. Provence (region)
  5. Arles (city)
  6. Orange (France) (city)
  7. Beaune (city)
  8. Lyon (city)
  9. Dijon (city)
3 thanks


answered by
Kat from Brooklyn

This may sound a bit DUH on my part, but definitely Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl just about an hour away from Cape Town.  I've been wine regions in Bordeaux, Napa Valley, Sonoma and a few in the Hamptons too, which are all classic, well traveled wine regions.  They are also great but I was really suprised with the different varietals of amazing wines in South Africa.  The scenery is breathtaking as well.  We went on a private tour with a company called Wine Flies that is based out of Cape Town.  Highly recommended.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Franschhoek (city)
  2. Stellenbosch (city)
  3. Paarl (city)
  4. Cape Town (city)
  5. Bordeaux (city)
  6. Napa Valley (attraction)
  7. Sonoma (city)
3 thanks


answered by
Julie from York

Hi Chris

I was recently pleasantly surprised by wine from Slovenia. I asked at one of the wine bars in Ljubljana how come it wasn't better known (as it tasted soooooo good) outside of the country, and they told me it was because they don't make enough for loads of it to be exported. Definitely worth a visit to taste it for yourself!

Happy tipples :)

Julie


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Slovenia (country)
  2. Ljubljana (city)
3 thanks


answered first by
Justin from Phoenix

I'm more of a craft beer guy (but I did a "guess the varietal" contest with a bunch of wine enthusiasts and outscored them all). So take this as just a somewhat-OK observation from one guy ... but I dig Australian wines. From what I understand, Australian wines get to play by a different set of production rules than their French counterparts - they aim more for innovation and less for tradition.

My favorite was from Wild Mountain Cellars. It was a port called The Ruins made from grapes that were on the vine during a bush fire. The smoke permeated the grapes ... which in many other countries would've been considered a ruined crop. Not here. The port had a smokey aroma and taste that pretty much ruined me for other ports. I still like 'em, but I always think about The Ruins whenever I drink any other port.

Other than port, I mostly red wines. The more oak, the better. You'll find no shortage in Australia or New Zealand.

By the way, coffee grown in Australia is also waaaaaay below the radar. I had some Mountain Peaberry brew from the Atherton Tablelands that blew me 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Wild Mountain Cellars (attraction)
  2. Atherton Tablelands (attraction)
3 thankscomments (2)


answered by
Ben from London

I first went to Croatia & tasted their wines 4 years ago & was surprised by how good it was!  Growing up, I never heard of Croatia as a wine destination.  After meeting Grgich family in Trstenik and hearing all about their links with Napa Valley I discovered that Croatia is full of amazing grapes and wines.

We actually have a travel experience where you get to sail the vineyards in Croatia so check it out:  

http://www.everthoughtoftrying.com/experience/adriatic-wine-odyssey/


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Trstenik (city)
2 thanks


answered by
Greg

Mention Germany and it's beer, not wine, that comes to mind. But Germany is fact produces some of the world's best white wines.  In South America, Argentina has a well-deserved reputation for red wines, but Chile's are often as good or even better. Mexico and South Africa belong on this list, also.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Germany (country)
  2. South America (continent)
  3. Argentina (country)
  4. Chile (country)
  5. Mexico (country)
  6. South Africa (country)
2 thanks


answered by
Andy from Saint Catharines

I'm from the Niagara Fallsregion and nearby areas including Niagara-on-the-LakeLincoln (Ontario) have amazing wineries that grow many varieties of grapes on the Niagara Escarpment/Bench. This year, I was able to go to the Azores in Portugal and tasted some amazing wines grown on Pico Island


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Niagara Falls (city)
  2. Niagara-on-the-Lake (city)
  3. Lincoln (Ontario) (city)
  4. Azores (island)
  5. Portugal (country)
  6. Pico Island (attraction)
1 thanks


answered by
Ashley from Calgary

There is a winery nearby here in a prairie town that make really good honey wine with local berries and such, their Christmas mulling wine is the most fantastic - Spirit Hills Honey Winery


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Spirit Hills Honey Winery (restaurant)
1 thanks


answered by
John

For price I found Hungary hard to beat. Croatia wine is surprisingly good.Just came back from Turkey, they gouge you on price but Turkish wine is pretty consistently good- whites are crisp and fruity without excessive sweetness , reds solid , hearty and good Provence style roses.Also I love Swiss (Switzerland) wine !


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Hungary (country)
  2. Croatia (country)
  3. Turkey (country)
  4. Switzerland (country)
1 thanks


answered by
Will from On The Road

I agree with Ben Lee’s answer - for me Croatia was easily the biggest surprise when it comes to domestic wines. Like Ben, I was also there 4 years ago and couldn’t believe the incredible tastes I experienced in both their reds and whites. As far as I know Croatia isn’t a big exporter of their wines, so for anyone who wishes to try the country’s best kept secret you will likely need to fly into Dubrovnik and go on a sampling tour up the coast!



Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Croatia (country)
  2. Dubrovnik (city)
1 thanks


answered by
Felipe from Valdivia

Chile has very good wines in the central valleys


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Chile (country)
1 thanks


answered by
Ewa from Gdansk

Kakheti region in Georgia- the Saperavi wine from the region is the best.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Kakheti (state)
  2. Georgia (country)
1 thanks


answered by
Keith from Bowness-on-Windermere

I never figured the Netherlands for a wine producing country, until we were served Apostelheuve at dinner in Amsterdam. The vineyard and the winery are, I was told, at Maastricht, which we were visiting later in the year.

We found this vineyard on the bank of the River Maas, below the St. Pietersberg Caves; I never discovered if it belonged to Apostelheuve or not, but there was a sign saying it was established in 1967. Which makes ME older than the vineyard! 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Netherlands (country)
  2. Amsterdam (city)
  3. Maastricht (city)
1 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Roxanne from Montreal

You're probably aware, but the Seattle Washington region produces great wines. On the East side of the mountain range, you will find lots of wineries. 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Seattle (city)
1 thanks


answered by
Kate from London

The wine of Valtenesi is very good!
The Valtenesi area is in Italy, near Lake Garda.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Valtenesi (city)
  2. Lake Garda (neighborhood)
1 thanks


answered by
Lynn

New Zealand.  The Marlborough area on the South Island.  They do whites very well!!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. New Zealand (country)
  2. Marlborough (region)
  3. South Island (region)
1 thanks


answered by
Brett from Eindhoven

One of my favorite unexpected wine country experiences was in the Moselle region of Luxembourg.  We drove down along the Mosel from Grevenmacher to Schengen, sampling many of the wonderful Cremants and white wines, along with the occasional Pinot. A very nice mix of wines you would find along the German Rhine/Mosel regions, Alsace, and Champagne.

We also were very happy with the wines we picked up in Recaș, Romania as well as Krk and Livade in Croatia.

I'm anxious to return to the wine country outside Podgorica, Montenegro, as it looked like a beautiful wine country to visit, but we didn't have a chance to stop when we were there.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Grevenmacher (city)
  2. Schengen (city)
  3. Recaș (city)
  4. Krk (city)
  5. Livade (city)
  6. Podgorica (city)


answered by
Rishabh from Wellington

New Zealand is a land like no other. New Zealand Wine is an experience like no other. The special combination of soil, climate and water, our innovative pioneering spirit and our commitment to quality all come together to deliver pure, intense and diverse experiences. In every glass of New Zealand Wine is a world of pure discovery. 

http://www.nzwine.com/

It has been said that there is no wine anywhere in the world that tastes like the wine of Marlborough – the balance of extraordinary purity and intensity of flavours set around impressive aroma, distinctive fruit characteristics and appealing balanced acidity is superb. These are stylish, exciting wines that surprise and delight.

Marlborough draws international acclaim that far outweighs its size. In the span of just a few decades winemakers have embraced this small, yet geographically diverse region, exploring the nuances offered by its landscape to craft exhilarating flavours in many different wine styles.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. New Zealand (country)
  2. Marlborough (region)




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