By Valentina Phillips

Over the past decade, wines from Central and Eastern Europe have come into their own. They started appearing on wine lists and store shelves across Europe and the rest of the world, and wine lovers have been quick to appreciate their unique character.

It might come as a surprise to many, but the region is actually a substantial contributor to global wine production. In 2018, Romania ranked sixth in the European Union for wine production followed by Hungary. And the little country of Moldova is the 6th biggest wine exporter by volume in Europe[1].

Wines from Central and Eastern Europe are increasingly modern in style and appeal to a growing number of consumers. Now more than ever, wine enthusiasts are eager to discover new wines from little-known places, which opens up a path for these hidden Eastern European gems. On top of that, they are often sold at very affordable prices, which makes them more accessible than they’ve ever been.

The emergence of wines from Eastern European countries can clearly be seen in the growth in entries at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles over the past 10 years. The numbers have nearly doubled, from 326 in 2010 to 703 in 2019. 147 producers from 14 countries in Central and Eastern Europe entered wines in the latest Concours Mondial de Bruxelles.

The competition’s international panel recognized the quality of the wines by awarding 113 Silver, 69 Gold and 10 Grand Gold medals. The top five Eastern European countries by number of accolades in 2019 were the Republic of Moldova (142), Romania (135), Bulgaria (106), the Czech Republic (102) and Slovakia (101).

And although wines from indigenous grapes such as Saperavi (Georgia), Fetească Neagră (Romania), Mavrud (Bulgaria) and Bikavér (Hungary) are increasingly gaining in popularity, the majority of Grand Gold medals were awarded to wines from international varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.

The following are the 10 highest-rated Central and Eastern European wines from the 2019 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles:

Deneb Cabernet Franc 2016

Producer: Angel’s Estate SA

Country: Bulgaria

Varietals: Cabernet Franc 100%

Alcohol by volume (%vol): 14.5

Vera Terra Cabernet Franc – Syrah 2016

Producer: Black Sea Gold

Country: Bulgaria

Appellation: PGI Thracian Valley

Varietals: Cabernet franc, Syrah

Alcohol by volume (%vol): 13.6

Face to Face Dornfelder 2016

Producer: VP-Brands International

Country: Bulgaria

Wine Region: Thrace

Varietals: Dornfelder 100 %

Alcohol by volume (%vol): 13.5

Seven Generations Cabernet Franc 2016

Producer:Horizont USA Seven Generation Winery

Country: Bulgaria

Wine Region: Dunavksa Rawnina

Appellation: PGI Danube Plain

Varietals: Cabernet franc 100%

Alcohol by volume (%vol): 14.5

Hron Private Reserve Barrique 2015

Producer: Miroslav Fondrk

Country: Slovakia

Wine Region: Južnoslovenská

Varietals: Hron 100%

Alcohol by volume (%vol): 14.0

Taraboste Rosu 2015

Producer: Château Vartely

Country: Republic of Moldova

Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon 70%, Merlot 30%

Alcohol by volume (%vol): 14.2

Merlot Bagueri 2015

Producer: Vinska klet Goriška Brda

Country: Slovenia

Wine Region: Primorska

Appellation: Goriska Brda

Varietals: Merlot 100%

Alcohol by volume (%vol): 14.5

Lanthieri Storia 2017

Producer: Vipava 1894 d.o.o.

Country: Slovenia

Wine Region: Primorska

Appellation: Vipava

Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon 65%, Merlot 35%

Alcohol by volume (%vol): 12.5

Owner’s Choice Ana Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Producer: Sc Jidvei SRL Filiala Alba

Country: Romania

Wine Region: Transylvanie

Appellation: Târnave

Varietals: Savagnin blanc 100%

Alcohol by volume (%vol): 12.5

Feteasca Regala Jidvei 2009

Producer: Sc Jidvei SRL Filiala Alba

Country: Romania

Wine Region: Transylvanie

Appellation: Târnave

Varietals: Feteasca Regala 100%

Alcohol by volume (%vol): 12.o

[1] OIV: 2019 Statistical Report on Vitiviniculture