Given a map of Central and Eastern Europe\u2014 once the heart of the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War era\u2014the average American wine consumer would struggle to pinpoint countries like Slovenia, Hungary, Romania or Georgia.\r\n\r\nBut in terms of global wine production, the region is actually a substantial contributor. As of 2010, Romania ranked sixth in the European Union for wine production, sandwiched between Germany and Greece. Hungary trails just after Greece in eighth place. Labeled with tongue-tying grape varieties like H\u00e1rslevel\u0171 and Busuioac\u0103 de Bohotin, or appellations like Hvar or Cri\u015fana-Maramure\u015f, it\u2019s not surprising that U.S. imports from these regions have been limited in volume.\r\n\r\nAccording to sommeliers like Thomas Pastuszak, wine director of the NoMad hotel and restaurant in New York City, the region is a veritable treasure chest of wines, offering incredible diversity and a strong connection to land and history.\r\n\r\n\u201cI love to wow guests by introducing them to these unique wines,\u201d he says, speaking about producers like Slovenia\u2019s Movia, a darling in sommelier and wine-geek circles for its biodynamic, low-intervention winemaking and amphorae-aged offerings.\r\n\r\n\u201cInitial reactions to my recommendation are often those of skepticism,\u201d he says, \u201c\u2026but when they taste the wine and enjoy a bottle over the course of their meal, they are always thankful to have been exposed to these beautiful, hidden gems of the wine world.\u201d\r\n\r\nWines from Central and Eastern Europe are increasingly modern and consumer-friendly in style. Many offer an array of solidly crafted, international varietal wines\u2014Merlot, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc\u2014some at incredible bargain prices.\r\n\r\nStetson Robbins, a sales representative at Blue Danube Wine Company, specializes in imports of wines from Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia. According to Robbins, sales of wines from these regions are \u201c\u2026a little elusive, and it\u2019s hard to predict where things will go.\u201d\r\n\r\nRobbins finds potential, however, in almost every corner of Central and Eastern Europe. \u201cCroatia,\u201d he says, \u201cis the one that has the most glitter\u2026because it\u2019s so beautiful, and so close to Italy.\u201d\r\n\r\nFor Robbins, \u201cHungary is like the new France. It\u2019s developed conceptually and there\u2019s a deeper understanding of their terroir, there\u2019s an incredible diversity in grapes and wine styles, and a lot of the classic, archetypal sorts of wines.\u201d\r\n\r\nSlovenia, he adds, is lauded for its diversity of producers making idiosyncratic, complex wines.\r\nCroatia\r\nSituated across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, and extending down the Dalmatian coast to Albania, Croatia is a unique meeting point between Western and Central Europe.\r\n\r\nThe coastal regions offer some of the nation\u2019s best wines. Istria, adjacent to the Slovenian coast, offers a variety of quality red wines made from grapes like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Teran (known in Italy as Refosco). White wines like Malvasia Istriana, a particularly aromatic variety of Malvasia, are promising, especially in the hands of one of the region\u2019s best producers, Ivica Mato\u0161evi\u0107.\r\n\r\nThe seaside vineyards of the Pelje\u0161ac peninsula, including the lauded subregions, Dinga\u010d and Postup, yield Plavac Mali wines that are dense, powerful and perfumed with scents that range from meaty and earthy to floral and herbaceous.\r\n\r\nThe surrounding islands of Hvar and Kor\u010dula yield exceptionally crisp, aromatic white wines from the indigenous Po\u0161ip grape.\r\n\r\nWinemaking runs deep in Croatian culture, and its expatriates have found much success abroad. Miljenko \u201cMike\u201d Grgich, of Napa Valley fame, returned to Croatia to make wine in 1996. Kumeu, one of New Zealand\u2019s renowned wine regions, was established by a handful of Croatian families who settled in Kumeu in the 1930s and developed wineries like Kumeu River, Matua Valley and Nobilo.\r\n\r\nAn eclectic mix of long-standing Croatian winemakers, businessmen, returnees and foreign investors are responsible for Croatia\u2019s most successful wineries. Americans Lee and Penny Anderson founded Korta Katerina after they fell in love with Croatia during their travels. Ernest Tolj, a successful businessman and entrepreneur, started Saints Hills, hiring Bordeaux\u2019s Michel Rolland as a consultant. Alen Bibic\u00b4 of Bibich is a Croatian who was able to reestablish his family\u2019s winery only after clearing landmines from his ancestral vineyards.\r\nGeorgia\r\nFlanked by Russia to the north and Turkey and Armenia to the south, Georgia is where Eastern Europe meets Asia. Here, in the Southern Caucasus, evidence of winemaking, including grape presses and clay fermentation vats called qvevri, date back 6,000 years.\r\n\r\nUntil 2006, when Russia imposed a trade embargo on Georgian wines, 90% of Georgia\u2019s wine production was exported there. Since then, Georgia has been on a mission to establish new markets, diversify its offerings and increase quality and competitiveness in the global market.\r\n\r\nSaperavi, Georgia\u2019s dominant red-wine grape, yields bold, deeply colored and often age-worthy wines, with substantial acid and alcohol levels. Its dominant white, Rkatsiteli, was once the most-planted grape in the Soviet Union and revered for its adaptability to an array of winemaking styles, both modern and ancient. Sparkling wines made using the m\u00e9thode Champenoise process have been produced in Georgia since the late 1800s, and some of the best in Eastern Europe are blends of traditional Georgian grapes like Chinebuli, Mtsvane and Tsitska made by Bagrationi 1882.\r\n\r\nIronically, the most buzz-worthy Georgian wines today are the most ancient in style\u2014 wines that were \u201cnatural\u201d and \u201clow intervention\u201d far before such concepts existed. In Italy, Friuli winemaker Josko Gravner makes his sought-after \u201corange\u201d wines using ancient Georgian techniques: white grapes macerated for long periods with grape skins, seeds and stems in qvevri coated with beeswax and buried below ground. The low, constant temperature of these qvevris supports slow oxygenation of the wines, yielding deeply colored red- and orangehued white wines with powerful, complex flavors and intense tannins.\r\n\r\nSome of the most ethereal qvevri wines are produced at places like the centuries-old Alaverdi Monastery. While limited in supply, the Alvaderi wines, along with other excellent Georgian qvevri offerings from producers like Telavi and Pheasant\u2019s Tears, are increasingly available in the United States.\r\nHungary\r\nDescribed by Louis XV as \u201cthe king of wines and the wine of kings,\u201d Tokaji Asz\u00fa, the unctuous, honeyed wine made from superconcentrated, botrytized grapes, has long been the archetypical Hungarian wine. Beloved by Thomas Jefferson and Russian czars alike, the ebulliently floral, lusciously fruity wines are traditionally a blend of Tokaji grapes: Furmint, H\u00e1rslevel\u0171 and varieties of Muscat. Excellent brands readily available in the U.S. include Royal Tokaji, Tokaj Classic, Patricius and Sauska.\r\n\r\nIn the past decade, recognizing a global change in preferences, Hungarian winemakers have shifted toward production of dry wines. The best dry whites, from producers like Kir\u00e1lyudvar, Patricius, Chateau Dereszla and Sauska, are made from Furmint or blends of traditional Tokaji grapes. They exhibit all of the honeyed, floral exuberance and luscious, waxy mouthfeel of their sweet counterparts. Dry, refreshing Hungarian renditions of Pinot Grigio and Gr\u00fcner Veltliner (Z\u00f6ld Veltelini in Hungary), as well as local grape varieties like Irsai Oliv\u00e9r are also easily accessible to the American palate.\r\n\r\nAlthough Hungary\u2019s white wines receive much of the attention, its red wines are also notable. Egri Bikav\u00e9r (\u201cBull\u2019s Blood of Eger\u201d), a potent, ruby-red blend of traditional and international grapes, is perhaps Hungary\u2019s most famous\u2014 albeit often overproduced\u2014red wine.\r\n\r\nIn recent years, varietal Kadarka, K\u00e9kfrankos (Blaufr\u00e4nkisch), K\u00e9koport\u00f3 (Blauer Portugieser) and Pinot Noir from red wine regions like Vill\u00e1ny, Szeksz\u00e1rd and Sopron show remarkable balance and complexity. Powerful Bordeaux-style red blends from producers like Sz\u00f5ke M\u00e1ty\u00e1s, Gere Attila, Sauska and Vylyan are worth seeking out.\r\nRomania\r\nDespite its long, ancient winemaking history, post-communist Romania has taken to the international marketplace with a surprisingly entrepreneurial New World zeal.\r\n\r\nThe sixth-largest wine producer in the E.U., Romania has long held a quiet yet impressive presence within Central and Eastern Europe. In recent years, many of the nation\u2019s top wineries, like Cramele Reca\u015f, Murfatlar, Prahova Valley, Cramele Halewood and Senator, have made substantial investments in technology. An increased focus on grape growing and modern, hygienic winemaking has resulted in high-quality offerings with a significant degree of consistency.\r\n\r\nRomania has always been host to an unusually large array of both international and native grape varieties. In recent years, alongside excellent Romanian varieties like Feteasc\u0103 Neagr\u0103\u00a0 (which yields structured red wines full of black fruit and herbaceous, floral tones) and Sarba (a crisp, refreshingly acidic white wine bearing stone fruit and citrus flavors), new plantings have focused on Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.\r\n\r\nSince 2010, in cooperation with the international n\u00e9gociant, Cameron Hughes, Cramele Reca\u015f\u2014one of Romania\u2019s most venerable wineries, with a history of continuous production since 1477\u2014has brought its impeccably wellmade Frunza line of international-style wines to Sam\u2019s Club stores throughout the U.S. for less than $7 per bottle.\r\nSlovenia\r\nNestled within the crossroads of the Alps and the Mediterranean, Slovenia is home to some of the most exciting wines in Central Europe. Since the fall of communism, much of Slovenia\u2019s wine production has returned to small, family-owned operations where individualism and experimentation have taken center stage.\r\n\r\nPrimorska, to the west, shares borders with Friuli in Italy. In this hilly terrain, political boundaries have shifted so frequently that single vineyards often amble across both countries, and winemaking styles are inseparably intermingled. Rebula is the predominant white grape (as in Friuli, where it\u2019s known as Ribolla Gialla), but international varieties like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are also common, yielding powerful, dry, aromatic wines.\r\n\r\nAmong the region\u2019s best producers like Movia, Marjan Sim\u010di\u010d, Edi Sim\u010di\u010d, Sutor and Burja, it\u2019s increasingly difficult to pinpoint adherence to any specific traditional or regional style. Rather, the developing trend seems to be a bold sense of experimentation and expression using a variety of grapes and winemaking styles. Varying degrees of sustainable, organic and biodynamic winemaking practices are often at play, as well as experimentation with ambient yeasts, Georgian qvevri, and a host of unusual barrelageing techniques.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nCentral and Eastern European Essentials\r\nA mixed case of recommended wines from Central and Eastern Europe.\r\nCroatia\r\n90 Korta Katarina 2007 Reuben\u2019s Private Reserve Plavac Mali (Pelje\u0161ac). Coarse tannins and tones of smoke, sun-dried hay and cocoa powder add a bold, brawny dimension to the fleshy, ripe plum and cherry flavors and elegant violet aromas that persist on the finish. Katherine\u2019s Garden LLC.\r\nabv: 15.4%\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 Price: $57\r\n\r\n88 Mato\u0161evi\u0107 2009 Alba Malvasia (Istria). Notes of ripe melon and subtle white flower perfume this voluptuous Malvasia, which bursts with a sweet stone-fruit flavor and a pleasantly bitter almond note on the finish. New Riviera Imports.\r\nabv: 13%\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 Price: $20\r\nGeorgia\r\n87 Bagrationi 1882 2007 Reserve Brut (Georgia). Made in the m\u00e9thode Champenoise style from a blend of traditional Georgian grapes, this is a delicately effervescent sparkler, with a delicious bouquet of brioche, white flower and sugar cookie. Pacific Wine Marketing Group.\r\nabv: 13%\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 Price: $20\r\n\r\n87 Telavi 2009 Satrapezo 10 Qvevri Rkatsiteli (Kakheti). This traditionally made wine features rose and waxy flower notes that mingle with accents of savory nuts and nut skins. The concentrated palate of tangerine and stone flavors bears a bristle of grape-skin astringency. Corus LLC.\r\nabv: 13%\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 Price: $30\r\nHungary\r\n92 Royal Tokaji 2007 Red Label Asz\u00fa 5 Puttonyos (Tokaji). Ebulliently floral on the nose, this decadently creamy Tokaji bursts with characteristic honey, peach preserve and dried fig sweetness and a streak of citrusy acidity that adds balance. Wilson Daniels Ltd.\r\nabv: 11.5%\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0Price: $43\r\n\r\n90 Gere Attila 2007 Kopar Cuv\u00e9e (Vill\u00e1ny). Luscious but pristinely ripe black-fruit and sweet spice notes are gorgeous on the nose and palate of this bold, penetrating, yet impeccably structured wine. Blue Danube Wine Co.\r\nabv: 15%\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 Price: $60\r\n\r\n89 Sz\u0151ke Maty\u00e1s\u00a02011 Zo\u02ddld Veltelini Gr\u00fcner Veltliner (M\u00e1tra). A note of white, waxy flower and a wisp of smoke on the nose introduce intense flavors of tangerine and lime, with peppery, leafy notes. Blue Danube Wine Co. Best Buy.\r\nabv: 13%\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0Price: $13\r\nRomania\r\n89 Cramele Halewood 2009 Kronos Limited Edition Pinot Noir (Dealu Mare). Delicate yet beguiling, with aromas of violet, pomegranate and granite, this is full of crisp red-cherry and plum flavors, but keenly balanced by brisk acidity and finely grained tannins. Terra Firma USA Inc.\r\nabv: 13.5%\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 Price: $20\r\n\r\n88 Senator 2011 Monser Sarba (Dealurile Husilor). Ebullient on the nose and palate with notes of spring blossoms, ripe peaches and yellow cherries, this is a concentrated, quaffable white wine, bearing striking acidity and glistening wet-stone minerality. Danax International. Best Buy.\r\nabv: 13%\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 Price: $10\r\nSlovenia\r\n91 Edi Sim\u010di\u010d 2006 Duet Lex (Gori\u0161ka Brda). Lifted blackberry and cherry aromas meld into flavors of ripe black fruit, violet and black pepper on this bold, concentrated wine that has vibrant acidity and lush, furry tannins. August Wine Group. Editors\u2019 Choice.\r\nabv: 15%\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 Price: $75\r\n\r\n90 Kabaj 2006 Amfora (Gori\u0161ka Brda). Delightfully curious, this luscious, multifaceted wine is penetrating with flavors of dried fruit, tea leaf, honey and smoke, and bristling tannins that linger long on the finish. Blue Danube Wine Co.\r\nabv: 12.7%\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 Price: $90\r\nTurkey\r\n88 Kayra 2008 Vintage Single Vineyard Collectible Series #5 \u00d6k\u00fczg\u00f6z\u00fc (El\u00e2z\u0131\u011f). Exotic spice and savory meat tones add dimension to sultry black-fruit and fig flavors on this lovely Turkish red. Maritime Wine Trading Collective. Cellar Selection.\r\nabv: 14%\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0Price: $20\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nFilling in the Rest of the Map\r\nThe classic Old World winemaking regions, such as Bordeaux, Burgundy and Piedmont, are all located between 40\u02da and 50\u02da latitude, where climates are generally favorable for fine wine production. Much of Central and Eastern Europe falls within the same zones. With winemaking histories that began prior to those of France, Italy or Spain, the region as a whole could be considered the original \u201cOld World\u201d of wine.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nBosnia and Herzegovina: Concentrated in the Herzegovina side of the country, winemaking here is heavily influenced by its Austro-Hungarian history. The nation\u2019s most promising wines are made from indigenous grapes like Blatina, which produces a ruby-red wine with bold alcohol and acidity, and \u017dilavka, which yields dry, fullbodied and aromatic white wines.\r\n\r\nBulgaria: Once a formidable global exporter of mass-produced, bargain-priced Cabernet Sauvignon, Bulgarian wine exports slowed dramatically through the 1980s and \u201990s. With a new influx of foreign capital and modern technology, Bulgaria is reintroducing a wide range of value wines from both native and international varieties, and quality is increasing.\r\n\r\nMoldova: Though little known in the U.S., Moldova was once one of the largest suppliers of fine wine to the former Soviet Union. In recent years, this small, land-locked country has intensified its investments in winemaking technology and is aggressively courting markets to the West and in Asia. The majority of its vines are international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but some of its most famous wines are made from the Georgian Saperavi.\r\n\r\nTurkey: Turkey has the fourth-largest vineyard acreage in the world, but only 2% of its grapes are vinified. Promising native grapes include Kalecik Karas\u0131 and \u00d6k\u00fczg\u00f6z\u00fc for fruity red wines with bold acidity; and Emir, a delicate, minerally white. International varieties like Syrah and Muscat are on the rise.\r\n\r\nUkraine: Like Moldova, Ukraine was one of the top suppliers of wine to the former Soviet Union. Since the millennium, Ukraine has aggressively pursued new Western and Asian markets. Massandra, its most famous producer, was built by czars in the late 1800s in coastal Crimea and is renowned for high-quality fortified and dessert wines with borrowed monikers like Port and Yquem.