September 29, 2016

You’ve heard all about the famous wine-producing regions, and you’ve tasted pretty much everything they have to offer. You can tell the difference and the taste profile between a good merlot and a bad one. A Malbec and a Shiraz. You’re a connoisseur of Cabernet Sauvignon. You’ve seen it all.

But have you seen or tasted these unknown pleasures from parts unknown?

The wines produced from these gems are largely unknown to the mainstream wine consumer, but we’ll show you just why you should try them.

Let’s round off the list of four unknown wine producing countries for the more adventurous wino.

Namibia

Odds are you’ve had wine from Namibia’s more well-known neighbor, South Africa. You’d never bet that Namibia, with its dry, arid climate, could ever produce wine. But when there’s a will, there’s a way; and there is indeed a boutique industry of red wine in Namibia. Neuras Wine and Wildlife Estate can be said to have pioneered the wine industry in Namibia on the back of the late Allan Walkden-Davis’ hard work. They produce 3,000 to 3,500 bottles of Shiraz and Shiraz-Merlot wine each year, and continue to do so to this day; their 2004 Namib Red has been critically acclaimed by oenophiles to be an exquisite and rich wine.

Lebanon

Despite being recognized as being one of the oldest wine-producing regions in history, with a tradition of wine stretching to biblical times; however, nary a peep is heard from the wine scene, nor can a bottle of wine be found outside Beirut. It remains a largely unknown quantity to the common oenophile. However, more winemakers trained in the rich traditions of Burgundy and Bordeaux have started to bottle wines that are in turn slowly garnering accolades from the world over. From a number of 5 wineries to over 30 today, the valley’s climate has spawned a number of fine wines, from cabernet, shiraz, to merlot; Ixsir is one of the biggest names producing wine out of the Lebanon Valley.

Paraguay

Paraguay isn’t the first place you will think of when you say South American wine, of which a fine tradition thereof exists in Argentina and Chile, but Paraguay deserves a mention. Wine has been produced in Paraguay for over 400 years in the remote corners of the country without the same fanfare as its more distinguished neighbors. In fact, wine production died out during Paraguay’s war of independence in the 1800’s, until having been reborn by Carlos Voigt in 1908. The Paraguayan wine tradition is continued to this day by Gerhard Bühler, with his Vista Alegre Riesling which is available in the German enclave of Colonia Independencia in Guairá.

Burma

Burma is probably the last place you’d think of as being a wine producing country. Paraguay is pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel, but this one’s got to take the cake, right? After nearly 50 years of military dictatorship, they can’t possibly have a wine culture? But you’re wrong; despite the infinitesimal odds of grapes thriving, two major French and German wine producers have actually started to make a name for themselves: Red Mountain Estate, with its range of Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays, and Pinot Noirs, and the Myanmar Vineyard Estate, which prides itself as the first ever vineyard of Myanmar. With a ready consumer in China, wine culture in Myanmar is certainly looking up.

Obtaining wines from these four obscure regions may not be as readily accessible, but for the adventurous palate or a completist, there is as much thrill in the search as there is in tasting the wine; the psychology is similar to record collectors who need to have every pressing of a cult single.

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