Encompassing the Balkans, Lebanon and Israel, the Eastern Mediterranean is a polyglot of cultures and grape varieties. Indigenous varieties with unpronounceable names grow side-by-side with such internationally recognized stars as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Greece’s best, most distinctive wines are indigenous grape varieties that are unknown elsewhere. Moschofilero is Greece’s answer to Pinot Grigio—a light, attractively fruity white that can be charming when cleanly made. Reds tend to be more rustic, whether made from Agiorgitiko or Xinomavro.
Although home to the storied wines of Tokaji and Egri Bikaver (Bull’s Blood), quality was stunted by the chaos that supplanted Communism. Western investment and heroic individual efforts are just beginning to bear fruit.
For decades, a source of inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignon destined largely for the U.K. market.
Original homeland to Zinfandel—known on the Dalmatian coast as Crljenik Kasteljanski. Plavac Mali is a similar grape, making sometimes tough, tannic wines.
High-tech farming is a hallmark of Israeli agriculture and grape growing is no different, with carefully metered irrigation of international grape varieties the rule rather than the exception. A new generation of carefully sculpted reds is raising the bar.
For years, Lebanese wine was synonymous with Château Musar, but now other names have joined the Hochar family in making wine amidst the ruins. Reds show the most promise.
Inexpensive for a reason.
Bordering Italy’s Collio region, Solvenia produces many of the same grape varieties, including pungent Sauvignon and classy Tocai, as well as blended whites.