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10 Award-Winning Wines You've Never Heard Of

CNBC.com

Top Under-the-Radar Wines

Whether you know a Burgundy from Bordeaux or a Rioja from Chianti, you’re probably aware that they are great wine-producing regions and you may have tried a glass or two. If New World wines are your thing, California, Australia, Chile, and New Zealand have become known for the quality of their wines. But the "old" and "new" worlds have recently been joined by a number of emerging wine regions in Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. This year, the Decanter World Wine Awards—the world’s bigg
Photo: Getty Images

Whether you know a Burgundy from Bordeaux or a Rioja from Chianti, you’re probably aware that they are great wine-producing regions and you may have tried a glass or two. If New World wines are your thing, California, Australia, Chile, and New Zealand have become known for the quality of their wines.

But the "old" and "new" worlds have recently been joined by a number of emerging wine regions in Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. This year, the Decanter World Wine Awards—the world’s biggest with more than 12,000 entries—awarded coveted medals to a number of wines from regions you may never have heard of and are unlikely to have tried.

So what wines could be gracing our tables in future? Read on to find out.

By Antonya Allen
Posted 2 Aug 2011

Recanati Winery, Special Reserve, Upper Galilee, Israel 2008

Type: Red StillU.S. Price: $40This pricey Israeli wine comes from a region where the soil and climate are perfect for cultivating wine grapes. An influx of wine experts to Israel from around the world in the 1980s vastly improved the quality of wine in a country where it has been produced since Biblical times. The U.S. is the largest importer of Israeli wine and Israel's willingness to adopt modern winemaking technologies has enabled it to be the preeminent wine producing nation in the Eastern M
Photo: Recanati

Type: Red Still
U.S. Price: $40

This pricey Israeli wine comes from a region where the soil and climate are perfect for cultivating wine grapes. An influx of wine experts to Israel from around the world in the 1980s vastly improved the quality of wine in a country where it has been produced since Biblical times. The U.S. is the largest importer of Israeli wine and Israel's willingness to adopt modern winemaking technologies has enabled it to be the preeminent wine producing nation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

This Israeli red won the highest prize at the 2011 Decanter World Wine Awards, receiving a gold medal from a panel of internationally acclaimed judges who praised "a finely crafted wine" with "ripe notes of blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and a hint of spice."

Sula, Sauvignon Blanc, Nashik, India 2010

Type: White Still U.S. Price: $12.99 U.K. Price: £8.49 Winemaking has been present in India since grapes were introduced by the Persians in 4 B.C., but centuries of European influence led to a significant increase in wine production, lasting into the 20th century. Independence from the British in 1947 ushered in a period of political disapproval of alcohol consumption and attempts to prohibit it altogether.In the 1980s, Shamrao Chowgule created Château Indage and with the help of French wine exp
Photo: Sula

Type: White Still
U.S. Price: $12.99
U.K. Price: £8.49

Winemaking has been present in India since grapes were introduced by the Persians in 4 B.C., but centuries of European influence led to a significant increase in wine production, lasting into the 20th century. Independence from the British in 1947 ushered in a period of political disapproval of alcohol consumption and attempts to prohibit it altogether.

In the 1980s, Shamrao Chowgule created Château Indage and with the help of French wine experts, a number of European grape varieties were introduced and cultivated successfully. This silver medal winning Sauvignon Blanc is a product of Château Indage's Nashik facility and, according to Decanter experts, it is "an enjoyable, light bodied wine showing notes of stone fruits, flowers, herbs with a hint of honey and beeswax.”

Orovela, Saperavi, Kakheti, Georgia 2006

Type: Red Still U.K. Price: £15.99 This heavy red comes from a country with a viticulture tradition that is said to go back more than 8,000 years and won a silver medal at the 2011 Decanter Awards. The judges said: "Saperavi is one of Georgia’s most famous varietals. Meaning ‘paint’ or ‘dye’ in the local dialect, it’s no surprise that this is dark and lustrous, with forward, open aromas of red fruits and vegetal notes, plus hints of oak and coconut. Rich, concentrated and long with firm tannins
Photo: Orovela

Type: Red Still
U.K. Price: £15.99

This heavy red comes from a country with a viticulture tradition that is said to go back more than 8,000 years and won a silver medal at the 2011 Decanter Awards. The judges said:

"Saperavi is one of Georgia’s most famous varietals. Meaning ‘paint’ or ‘dye’ in the local dialect, it’s no surprise that this is dark and lustrous, with forward, open aromas of red fruits and vegetal notes, plus hints of oak and coconut. Rich, concentrated and long with firm tannins on the palate, this is aging well."

Granmonte, Heritage Syrah, Khao Yai, Thailand 2009

Type: Red Still Thai energy drink Krating Daeng spawned global superbrand Red Bull, but the travel paradise of Thailand is not so well known for its wine. Planting vines between canals is a popular way of cultivating wine grapes in Thailand to ensure they stay alive in a hot and humid climate. A number of wineries, many with French experts at the helm, have sprung up in Thailand. Unsurprisingly, Thai wines are said to complement the nation's spicy cuisine. This silver medal winning red was descr
Photo: Granmonte

Type: Red Still

Thai energy drink Krating Daeng spawned global superbrand Red Bull, but the travel paradise of Thailand is not so well known for its wine. Planting vines between canals is a popular way of cultivating wine grapes in Thailand to ensure they stay alive in a hot and humid climate. A number of wineries, many with French experts at the helm, have sprung up in Thailand. Unsurprisingly, Thai wines are said to complement the nation's spicy cuisine.

This silver medal winning red was described as a “surprisingly complex take on this Rhône varietal, showing depth and concentration of red currants with tasty vanilla oak to support, rounded off by fresh acidity and soft, ripe tannins,” by Decanter’s Asian wine experts.

Boxwood Winery, Topiary, Virginia 2007

Type: Red StillU.S. Price: $25.00 U.K. Price: £23.99 California’s Napa Valley might be the assumed home of the U.S. wine industry, but the much older state of Virginia has actually been producing wines since European colonization in the 17th century. The Boxwood winery only produces red wines from five varieties of grapes certified by the French government, and this blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot described by Decanter judges as "supremely alluring," offering "attractive, smoky, cherry and pl
Photo: Boxwood

Type: Red Still
U.S. Price: $25.00
U.K. Price: £23.99

California’s Napa Valley might be the assumed home of the U.S. wine industry, but the much older state of Virginia has actually been producing wines since European colonization in the 17th century.

The Boxwood winery only produces red wines from five varieties of grapes certified by the French government, and this blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot described by Decanter judges as "supremely alluring," offering "attractive, smoky, cherry and plum fruit, with cocoa notes and savory, violet and coffee aromas."

Alpha Estate, Turtles Vineyard Red, Greece 2008

Type: Red Still U.S. Price: $15.99 Greek wine enjoyed an elevated reputation in Ancient Rome and fetched high prices in Europe during the Middle Ages. In subsequent centuries, Greek wine's reputation has arguably fallen behind some of its European counterparts, such as France and Italy, but mainland Greece and its many islands produce a rich variety of wines. This "blend of international and indigenous varietals (Syrah, Xinomavro and Merlot) ... is a wine boasting beautiful structure," the Decan
Photo: Alpha Estate

Type: Red Still
U.S. Price: $15.99

Greek wine enjoyed an elevated reputation in Ancient Rome and fetched high prices in Europe during the Middle Ages. In subsequent centuries, Greek wine's reputation has arguably fallen behind some of its European counterparts, such as France and Italy, but mainland Greece and its many islands produce a rich variety of wines. This "blend of international and indigenous varietals (Syrah, Xinomavro and Merlot) ... is a wine boasting beautiful structure," the Decanter judges said.

He Lan Qing Xue, Jia Bei Lan, Ningxia, China 2009

Type: Red Still Moet Hennessy and Pernod Ricard have targeted the remote northwestern region of Ningxia for their Chinese wine producing operations, and the world's biggest importers of French Bordeaux wines have produced an award-winning Bordeaux of their own there. The Asian judging panel at the Decanter World Wine Awards, chaired by Ch’ng Poh Tiong, founder of the International Congress of Chinese Cuisine and Wine and author of the world’s first guide to Bordeaux in Chinese described this win
Photo: He Lan Qing Xue

Type: Red Still

Moet Hennessy and Pernod Ricard have targeted the remote northwestern region of Ningxia for their Chinese wine producing operations, and the world's biggest importers of French Bordeaux wines have produced an award-winning Bordeaux of their own there.

The Asian judging panel at the Decanter World Wine Awards, chaired by Ch’ng Poh Tiong, founder of the International Congress of Chinese Cuisine and Wine and author of the world’s first guide to Bordeaux in Chinese described this wine as "stunning," "medium-bodied, supple and ripe but not flashy."

"There’s some delightful, leafy black fruit with exciting minty perfume. Bordeaux-like restraint with excellent length and four square tannins, this could age for five to six years," they added.

Ridgeview, Grosvenor Chardonnay, Sussex, England 2007

Type: White Sparkling U.K. Price: £24.99 “English sparkling wine in particular is having a tremendous success and really has impressed us greatly at these awards,” Sarah Kemp, managing editor at told CNBC.com. English wine producers such as Ridgeview have successfully managed to produce all varieties of Champagne grapes in the U.K. in recent years. Much of southern England has very similar soil to the Champagne region of France and the climate is not markedly different from its much more famous
Photo: Ridgeview

Type: White Sparkling
U.K. Price: £24.99

“English sparkling wine in particular is having a tremendous success and really has impressed us greatly at these awards,” Sarah Kemp, managing editor at Decanter told CNBC.com. English wine producers such as Ridgeview have successfully managed to produce all varieties of Champagne grapes in the U.K. in recent years.

Much of southern England has very similar soil to the Champagne region of France and the climate is not markedly different from its much more famous French counterpart. This multiple award-winning winery in the southeastern county of Sussex "proves that English sparkling wine can compete with Champagne," Kemp said.

Sutor, Chardonnay, Vipava, Slovenia 2008

Type: White Still U.S. Price: $20 U.K. Price: £19 The biggest export markets for Slovenian wine varieties are the U.S. and neighboring countries, such as Croatia and the Czech Republic. Sarah Kemp's description of Slovenia as "the new Italy" of the wine world might not be far fetched, given that this small European country shares a western border with Italy and many of the wine production methods employed in the two countries are similar. This Chardonnay has “layers of yellow fruits, butter, min
Photo: Sutor

Type: White Still
U.S. Price: $20
U.K. Price: £19

The biggest export markets for Slovenian wine varieties are the U.S. and neighboring countries, such as Croatia and the Czech Republic. Sarah Kemp's description of Slovenia as "the new Italy" of the wine world might not be far fetched, given that this small European country shares a western border with Italy and many of the wine production methods employed in the two countries are similar.

This Chardonnay has “layers of yellow fruits, butter, minerals, well-integrated oak, an elegant ripeness and an excellent length,” Kemp said.

Kavaklidere Saraplari, Tatli Sert Narince, Central Anatolia, Turkey 2000

Type: White SweetU.S. Price: $10Turkey is the world’s fourth largest producer of grapes, with hundreds of indigenous varieties, like its neighbor Greece. In the 20th century, reformer and founder of modern Turkey Kemal Atatürk encouraged wine drinking among the Turkish population as he attempted to consolidate a secular state. In 1925, he approved the promotion of wine growing in Turkey and some of the country's most renowned wineries today date from that period. This white wine was judged to be
Photo: Kavaklidere

Type: White Sweet
U.S. Price: $10

Turkey is the world’s fourth largest producer of grapes, with hundreds of indigenous varieties, like its neighbor Greece.

In the 20th century, reformer and founder of modern Turkey Kemal Atatürk encouraged wine drinking among the Turkish population as he attempted to consolidate a secular state. In 1925, he approved the promotion of wine growing in Turkey and some of the country's most renowned wineries today date from that period.

This white wine was judged to be one of Turkey's best at the Decanter awards, described by judges as:

“A simply lovely sweet wine, pale amber in hue with nuts, caramelized orange, dried flowers and touches of herbs on the nose. It has a great spine of acidity imbuing it with a lively refreshing feel.”