10 of the Best Wine Regions You Have Probably Never Heard of

Here at The Barrel secrets HQ we’re no strangers to good – and bad – wine experiences. We have experienced the highs and lows of wine drinking all over the world, from the god-awful “goon” wine boxes of Australia to the charry, fruity flavours of a South African red. We all have our favourites, but have you ever considered trying a tipple from wine regions within Moldova? Myanmar? How about England…?

Without further adieu, here are 10 of the best wine regions you have probably never heard of…

MoldovaCricova Wine Cellar - Moldova. 10 of the best wine regions you have probably never heard of - THE FLASH PACK

About the wine regions: 

Nestled between Romania and Ukraine, little Moldova can certainly pack a punch when it comes to the grape game. Once upon a time Moldova was one of the top wine suppliers of the Soviet Union, but after gaining its independence during the collapse of the USSR, the previously abundant wine industry fell into disarray. A now refreshed and reinventined Moldovian wine culture is bringing some new talent to the wine scene with over 10 award-wining and internationally recognized wineries. There are 4 main grape-growing regions in Moldova; head north to the wine regions of Bălți and Codru for those more keen on the white stuff, or venture south towards Dniestr and Cahul for those more partial to a red.

Why we love it: 

Not only is Moldova producing quality wines from international varietals, but they are also producing from local, indigenous grapes from Moldova and neighboring Romania, such as Fetească Albă (White Maiden) or the better know Rara Neagră (rare black). If that’s not enough, you can even go check out the infinite limestone cellars of the larger wineries, some of which stretch to 200km holding over 2 million bottles! *Heaven*

Vineyards we recommend: 

For a unique family-run winery, head to Et Cetera. To explore the longest cellar tunnels, check out Mileştii Mici. For the best bubbles in town, head to Cricova.

Ningxia, ChinaNingxia - China. 10 of the best wine regions you have probably never heard of - THE FLASH PACK

About the wine region:

A boom in wine drinking throughout China has created something of a starlet on the international wine scene – yes, that’s a thing. In fact, prominent wine merchants Berry Brothers and Rudd have predicted that Chinese wine could rival that of Bordeaux within the next 50 years *gasp*, and it looks like Ningxia is leading the way.

Once seen as an inhospitable piece of land, the Chinese government have made it their mission to transform Ningxia into China’s top wine region, and it seems to be working. As the saying (sort of) goes, “where there is wine, there is a way” and by using bulldozers and lots of irrigation piping they have managed create a surprisingly successful area in which to produce fine wine.

Why we love it:

Still a newbie in vineyard terms, Ningxia has achieved a great deal in such a short amount of time. Not only has the region won awards for her red wines, but they are now starting to pop up on supermarket shelves the world over. If you’re a fan of the red stuff then you’ve got to try the region’s signature grape, Cabernet Gernischt!

Vineyards we recommend:

Grace Vineyard is certainly China’s largest winery and having been awarded Best Winery in 2012 by La Revrue du Vin de France as well as 5 medals at the Decanter World Wine Awards the same year, it seems to be one of the most promising. Based on wine tasting châteaux in France, Grace Vineyards has been built to entertain and delight guests who will not be disappointed by her Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot or Chardonnay varieties.

Beqaa Valley, Lebanonchateau musar - Lebanon. 10 of the best wine regions you have probably never heard of - THE FLASH PACK

About the wine region: 

Warm summers, wet winters and a decent 1000m of altitude have helped in carving out the Beqaa Valley as the powerhouse of Lebanese wine production. Lebanon has an ancient wine culture dating back to the time of the Phoenicians, but has experience somewhat of a renaissance in recent years. Given Lebanon’s historical ties with France its no surprise that you will find plenty of French varieties majestically lining the valley, interspersed with indigenous varieties; Merlot, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon meets Merwah, Obaideh. It also explains why the wineries are named ‘Château’… it’s all in the history folks!

Why we love it: 

Despite a brutal 15 year civil war leaving unexploded mines in the soils of the valley, the on-going conflict in neighbouring Syria and the continued fragility of the political situation, the Lebanese wine industry has marched forward, never missing a vintage.

Vineyards we recommend: 

Head to Château Musar to taste ancient varieties of indigenous grape blends. Château Ksara; from small wine-producing monastery to full-blown winery now producing 1 million bottles a year.

Santorini, GreeceSantorini - Greece. 10 of the best wine regions you have probably never heard of - THE FLASH PACK

About the wine region:

It’s not every day that you can get away with being thankful for a natural disaster – especially one as destructive as the Thera eruption – but that is exactly what makes the wine in Santorini so darn delicious. If it weren’t for this devastating event which ripped the island of Thera apart, leaving Santorini with her characteristic caldera cliffs, the soil would be free of the volcanic minerals that give Santorini’s wine its distinctive, bubbly flavour.

In between the sleepy villages that hug the steep shoreline are vineyards of all varieties; some use traditional wine making methods while others are more experimental in their approach but all offer amazing wine tasting opportunities that will please even the most discerning viticulturists.

Why we love it:

Not only is it a great excuse for a trip to the sunshine, but a wine-soaked visit to Santorini will never have a dull moment. From small, independent wine merchants to the larger, better known wine producers such as Gala, Sigalas and Argyros, you can spend endless time exploring Santorini’s dry whites and crisp rosés. Whether you find yourself sipping Santorini’s famous vinsanto wine in a shaded taverna, or happen upon a local vendor selling his homemade wine on the side of the street, either way you will be in for a treat to the senses. Plus, the views aren’t bad either…

Vineyards we recommend:

Estate Argyros was established in 1903 and has been in the same family ever since meaning their approach to wine making is as traditional as it comes. With such a long history in the winemaking business, the owners are able to make some of the best local wine using Santorini’s very own Assyrtiko, Athiri and Aidani and Mantilaria grapes. We recommend combining their Assyrtiko Argyros with a locally caught seafood dish to really taste of paradise.

Patagonia, Chile/ArgentinaPatagonia - Argentina / Chile 10 of the best wine regions you have probably never heard of - THE FLASH PACK

About the wine region:

Known more for dinosaurs, deserts and glaciers, Patagonia’s cool, dry climate is actually the perfect place to produce sophisticated red wines such as Pinot Noir and Malbec. The area itself is so vast and desolate that the only areas in which vineyards can grow is near rivers in the northern part of the region. Even so, these are some of the most southerly vineyards you will likely find on a world wine tasting tour.

The wines themselves are bursting with flavour and are more European in their style than those found in other parts of Argentina and Chile. If you’re after something a little less red and little more white, Patagnoia’s vineyards also produce some spectacular Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Chardonnays.

Why we love it:

Patagonia’s pure, unadulterated environment lends itself to the creation of such wonderfully fresh and exuberant wine varieties and the vineyards are some of the most visually spectacular in the world. Where else can you relax after an energetic day of trekking through glaciers with a smoky glass of Cab Sav?

Vineyards we recommend:

Rediscovered in the 1930s, Noemia vineyard is completely free of man-made intervention when it comes to the planting, picking and production of her wines resulting in some of the regions best old-style Malbec wines. If it’s something a little more contemporary you are after then we recommend a trip to Bodega Humberto Canale where they fuse modern wine-making techniques with more traditional wisdom passed down by their namesake founder.

SloveniaGoriška Brda - Slovenia. 10 of the best wine regions you have probably never heard of - THE FLASH PACK

About the wine regions: 

From the foot of the Alps to the Adriatic coast, Slovenia’s wine culture is deeply rooted in it’s history, is locally celebrated and has been quietly raising its game since independence from USSR. Interesting fact; Slovenia is home to one of the oldest continually producing vines in Europe – 400 years old and still producing the good stuff! Three main wine regions and a plethora of sub-districts make up Slovenia’s geographical wine map. Primorje in the south-west produces the most wine in the country, leaving Podravje to the north-east and Posavje in the south-east producing the rest. If you’re a fan of white wine then Slovenia is the place for you, with 75% of produce championing local grapes and blended beauties in white.

Why we love it: 

Slovenian’s clearly love their home grown goodies as the majority of the wine produced by the country is consumed domestically. With a very small percentage exported, mostly to neighbouring Croatia, this means we have to get out there and taste it for ourselves! I spy an adventure coming on…

Vineyards we recommend:

Dating back to 1592 and family run, Batič winery is an icon of the Slovenian wine scene. For something totally different try an orange Chardonnay (not white… orange) at Mlečnik.

Sussex, EnglandBluebell Vineyard - Sussex. 10 of the best wine regions you have probably never heard of - THE FLASH PACK

About the wine region:

England… really? Yes really. Good old blighty has in fact been producing wine for some time – given our Roman heritage it would be rude not to. More recently in the south of England, namely the counties of Kent, Sussex and Hampshire, we are producing some award-winning quality still and sparkling wines. You wouldn’t believe me but in Sussex in particular, the climate for producing wine in fact mirrors that of the Champagne region of France thanks to the micro-climate that graces this area. Imagine, just an hour outside of London by train and you could be sipping some bubbles whilst gazing over the green hills of the South Downs and rolling vineyards. Watch out Champagne… we’re coming for you!

Why we love it: 

Here in England we are mainly known for three things; fish and chips, the royal family and bad weather. We are so much more than that and the fact that we are producing some internationally acclaimed wines is just the cherry on top of a very patriotic cake.

Vineyards we recommend: 

For specialists in producing red wine, head to Bolney Wine Estate. For the award-winning, internationally acclaimed Hindleap range of English Sparkling Wine (pictured above) get yourself over to Bluebell Vineyard Estates. For tiny-bubbled perfection Nyetimber in West Sussex is a must – award-winning and of the utmost elegance. If you’re in the area stay at The English Wine Centre just outside Alfriston in Sussex – beautiful boutique accommodation, fine dining and the best English wines in the land.

Essaouira, MoroccoLe Domaine du Val d'Argan - Essaouira. 10 of the best wine regions you have probably never heard of - THE FLASH PACK

About the wine region: 

In a country where you’re more likely to sit down to enjoy a mint tea and a shisha pipe than a glass of vino, this one might come as a bit of a surprise. The Domaine du Val d’Argan in Essaouira is a stunning winery, restaurant and guesthouse developed by Frenchman Chales Mélia (who left his family’s winery in the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape region in France to open this boutique winery). Any visit to Essaouira would not be complete without stopping off at this beautiful winery.

Why we love it:

Even 40degree heat can’t stop Monsieur Mélia from producing some fantastic wine. Also, Domaine du Val d’Argan’s vineyard is not worked by tractor, but by camel! Awesome.

Vineyards we recommend: 

Domaine du Val d’Argan. Obviously. We will even take you there on our Morocco foodie weekend! Fancy.

Mendoza, ArgentinaMendoza - Argentina 10 of the best wine regions you have probably never heard of - THE FLASH PACK

About the wine region:

Huddled into the foothills of South America’s Andes Mountains, Mendoza is one of the driest places on earth and has some of the highest elevation vineyards to boot. Wine makers have been planting here in earnest since the 19th Century making Mendoza Argentina’s best and most famous wine region. Known the world over for her wonderfully rich and fiery reds, you could be forgiven for thinking all roads here lead to Malbec, but with around 1,500 wineries in the area, this just isn’t the case. In fact, this desert oasis also produces some pretty sensational whites including Chardonnay and Viognier.

Why we love it:

Mendoza by bicycle is probably the most fun you can have with your clothes on, provided you manage to keep them on after all the wine! The combination of the fruity, thick Malbec, the full-bodied, crisply aromatic Viognier and a typically Argentinian barbecue is simply divine.

Vineyards we recommend:

If you’re interested in the people behind the wine, no visit to Mendoza is complete without meeting the charming and extremely talented Carmelo Patti at his small but perfectly formed winery where he makes wine in a historical bodega in his own garage! He’ll take you around the winery himself and paint a colourful picture of his grapes, his wine and his life. To really appreciate the views of the Andes, head to The Vines of Mendoza where you have a wide choice of tasting options.

Shan State, Myanmar/BurmaShan Stat - Burma / Myanmar 10 of the best wine regions you have probably never heard of - THE FLASH PACK

About the wine region:

Hidden in amongst the pagodas, stupas and stilted villages that make up the Shan State of Burma is something very, very special. In amongst the rolling hills and leafy shrubbery are Burma’s first two wineries. While it probably won’t be appearing in Naked Wine’s repertoire any time soon, Burmese wine is not to be sniffed at. The region itself is a vast and untainted winemakers playground where vines pour down terraces like verdant waterfalls and the nearby Inle Lake glistens in the background. The rich, fertile soil combined with the wonderfully tropical weather is perfect for growing grapes such as Aythaya, Shiraz, and more recently German Dornfelder, Tempranillo and Chianti. The result is surprisingly dry and fruity whites and velvety reds.

Why we love it:

Sit with a glass of the finest Burmese Sauvignon Blanc, watching the sunset over paradise and tell us you don’t feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Besides the humbling views of the Inle Lake glittering through the lush, flourishing greenery of the Shan State, visiting the wineries here is a wonderful reminder of how Burma is evolving. From a bumpy start in the early 1990’s, Burma’s wine culture has grown and prospered and is now hot on the heels of some of the more well-known Asian wine producers.

Vineyards we recommend:

As there are only two vineyards in the whole of Burma it would be impossible to recommend one without the other. A German entrepreneur founded Myanmar Vineyard in 1999 near the village of Aythaya (hence the name of Burma’s most popular wine) and a French winemaker founded Red Mountain Estate in early 2000s near the village of Nyaungshwe. Both produce excellent quality white, red, and rosé wines; Myanmar Vineyard produces some tasty Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Moscato while Red Mountain Estate is more famous for her Pinot Noir.

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