9 best European wines from non-EU countries to help you survive a potential hard Brexit
We may be leaving the EU, but your wine cellar doesn't have to suffer as much as you may think – we've found some alternative vinos that should help
OK, worst case scenario. We’re out of the EU without a deal come the end of October. Where do fans of European wine go for their oneological fix?
Well, rest assured. There are some wonderful European wine that comes from countries that aren’t in the EU.
We concentrated mainly on eastern Europe as that's an area that's quickly becoming a region to watch. It's where local and indigenous grape varieties are often being used to produce wines that can certainly match those being made elsewhere in Europe. Our choice was small, but select.
Turkey is also a fascinating and rich wine region. Wine has been made here for more than a millennia, but due to strict licensing laws at home more Turkish winemakers are looking to export their best wines, with several picking up awards at international competitions. Their rosé and white wines are crisp, bright and refreshing and well worth investigating
Closer to home, Switzerland has always remained stubbornly independent – it's government voted to join the EU, its public said no – and its wines have a similar autonomy with both red and and white wines that have a distinctive style and taste.
They tend to be a bit on the pricey side but you're paying for something you won't find anywhere else in Europe.
Finally, why not raise a glass to Moldova, one of the poorer countries in eastern Europe but whose fascinating history as winemakers to the mighty Soviet state was revealed in a recent television documentary by Jack Whitehall and his father Michael. Their sauvignon blanc was one of the surprises of our testing, a wonderful wine, full of character and a worthy example of a famous grape variety.
So get out the corkscrew and enjoy a non-EU European wine adventure.
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Turkey: Paşaeli yapincak 2017, 75cl, 12%: £16, Winebuyers
OK, it may not sound that attractive, but the indigenous yapincak grape, grown on the European side of Turkey, gives this dry white wine a rich, tangy, citrus flavour which means that it pairs well with the sort of spicy food you might find in, say, a Turkish restaurant. Pale gold in appearance and aged on its lees for three months, it’s just another in a long list of European-cum-Asian wines well worth exploring.
Ukraine: Guliev Tremolov cabernet reserve 2014, 75cl, 13%: £16.99, Novel
Here’s a wine that’s unlikely to leap off the shelf when you’re browsing, mainly because the label is nearly all in the Cyrillic alphabet. However, once you get past that, you’ll find a rich and luscious cabernet aged in French oak with layered flavours of blackcurrants, blackberries and plum and notes of herbs and pepper. It comes from an Odessa vineyard founded in the 1850s by a French wine merchant and fully deserves a wider audience.
Georgia: Orovela saperavi 2008, 75cl, 13%: £16.79, Waitrose
Georgia has an ancient tradition of winemaking which some say stretches back to Neolithic times. Happily, there’s nothing Stone Age about this superlative red wine, made from the indigenous saperavi grape, a hardy variety that’s known for its ability to cope with pretty chilly temperatures. It’s full to the brim with dark and red fruit flavours, complete with satisfying tannins and a long finish.
Turkey: Paşaeli 6N karasakiz merlot 2017, 75cl, 14.5%: £21, Red Squirrel
We've heard wine experts describe wine as “chewy” which perhaps in this case would be quite appropriate, as the karasakiz grape – which makes up around 80 per cent of the wine (the rest is the more familiar merlot) – translates as “black chewing gum”. Happily there’s nothing quite that dense here, but you do get potent red fruit, cherry and cranberry flavours with notes of herbs and spice. It’s only grown in a small area, fewer that 50 hectares, near the site of the ancient city of Troy. Hidden treasure indeed.
Moldova: Château Vartely dealu nucului cabernet sauvignon 2017, 75cl, 14%: £10.49, Laithwaite’s
Moldovan wine featured briefly but memorably in an episode of Jack Whitehall’s Travels With My Father last year, when Moldova was revealed as the country that kept Russian imbibers happy during the Cold War. We imagine they’d have been more than pleased with this fruity cabernet sauvignon, with its layers of blackberry, dark cherry and plum and hints of spice and vanilla. It’s ready to drink now, although it should get even better with age.
Georgia: Iberiuli kisi qvevris orange wine 2017, 75cl, 13%: £16, Taste of Georgia
Orange wine, so called because of the amber hue produced when the white wine spends six months in contact with the skins, is a bit of a Marmite product. Some love it, others aren’t so keen. Yet this best in show winner at the Decanter Asian wine awards could convert even the sternest critics. A hugely aromatic wine where apple, pear and soft fruit flavours are complemented by hints of marzipan and roasted almonds.
Switzerland: Aigle Les Murailles AOC chablais 2016, 75cl, 13%: £27.94, Alpine Wines
For a country famous for its watches, chocolate, cheese and the odd bank or two, wine may not spring to mind as a typical Alpine product. Which is a shame as its wine is some of the best you’ll find anywhere, including this superb white made from the local chasselas grape. Fruity on the tongue with floral hints and a pleasing minerality, it’s a splendid accompaniment to any good fish dish. Get it and buy into one of Europe’s best-kept wine secrets.
Macedonia: Tikves cuvée Cyril, 75cl, 12%: £9.99, Novel
Once you’ve got past the barrier of buying a wine called Cyril, you’ll find an off-dry white wine made from chardonnay plus the indigenous smederevka and rkatsiteli grapes in the central Macedonian area of Tikves, under the watchful eye of French wine consultant Philippe Cambie. There are plenty of ripe fruit flavours here with a mango and soft fruit appeal and a medium acidity.
Switzerland: Gamaret-Garanoir expression 2016, 75cl, 13.5%: £19.08, Alpine Wine
A wine that combines the local gamaret and garanoir grapes to produce one of the Swiss wine world’s little surprises – a red wine that goes really well with a hot curry. Why a wine from an Alpine country should perfectly match food from the Asian continent remains a mystery, but there’s no getting away from the rich, plum and soft-fruit flavours and the vanilla creaminess that give this wine its special appeal.
The verdict: European wines from non-EU countries
There’s some odd-sounding names here and a range of grape varieties that deserve to better known. Our best buy is the intensely fruity and refreshing Paşaeli yapincak from Turkey, a standout white wine with its tangy charm and citrussy appeal.
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