This summer I’ve been traveling through my wine glass all throughout the Mediterranean. I’ve tried so many new wines from regions I didn’t even know grew grapes! I’ve learned that there is something so special and unique about wines that are grown and produced in a Mediterranean climate. The sea breezes, volcanic soils, ancient varieties, and so many more influences make these wines some of the best. But the best part? They aren’t overly marketed and somewhat still ‘hidden gems’ unless you are specifically on the search for them. In this post I’ve broken the wines down by region, each accompanied with recommendations!
Croatia is one country in Europe I have not been to yet, but it is definitely on my bucket list! Again, I didn’t really know that they made wine there and after tasting through quite a few wines I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by how complex and awesome the wines are.
Pošip is a white Croatian grape variety that originates from the island of Korčula in Southern Dalmatia. Here there are hot summers with breezes from the Mediterranean Sea. These wines are often full of minerality and lively acidity with complex notes of citrus fruit, tropical fruit and mediterranean herbs. These wines would be the perfect match to any seafood dish!
Yes, Croatia makes rosé! The Komarna appellation makes this particular rosé I shared on my instagram and it’s made from the most famous local red variety, Plavac Mali.
Featured in the photo, this Terra Madre Plavac Mali Rose 2019 has aromas of strawberries, rose petal, and watermelon with a crisp, dry finish. The Plavac Mali grapes are all grown organic, without the use of mineral fertilizers and pesticides. The harvest is done earlier in September to achieve higher acidity and lower alcohol levels.
Plavac Mali is a super well known grape variety in Croatia and produces robust red wines with black fruit flavors. This variety typically thrives in the sandy, south facing Dalmatian Coast Region just above the Mediterranean Sea, with the vines often being bush trained to avoid harsh sunlight. It is also typically a lower yielding vine, leading to more concentrated grapes + wines.
Another fun fact: Plavac Mali is an offspring of Zinfandel, with the other parent being Dobričić, another ancient Croatian variety.
Greek wines are some of my favorite Mediterranean wines I’ve been drinking this summer! Greece has a hot Mediterranean climate; but the strong winds and altitudes provide a cooling effect where some of the best vineyards are found. Greek wines are mineral driven and bursting with unique complexities in every bottle. Although they aren’t quite as mainstreem as French or California wines, you can still pretty easily find these in your local wine shop or from an online source. If you are looking for even more information on Greek Wines, check out my recent blog post where I dive a little deeper into them.
Santorini (a dream place of mine to visit!) is a volcanic island that produces high quality wines, one of the most popular being Assyrtiko, a white grape variety. Dry Assyrtiko wines can be complex with aromas and flavors of stone fruit, ripe citrus and minerality. Late harvest wines made from this same grape have sweetness with caramel and nutty characteristics. I would pair this with fresh seafood or a Greek feta salad.
Agiorgitiko is native to the Peloponnese peninsula of Greece and the only grape variety allowed to carry the Nemea appellation. It does well in the hot Mediterranean climate of Greece and Nemea’s high altitude mountain vineyards where it can fully ripen and achieve great acidity and structure. Agiorgitko is one of Greece’s oldest grape varieties and historically nicknamed the “Blood of Hercules”. These wines are often full body, high acidity and tannins with tons of ripe dark fruit and spice. If you like a rich Malbec or jammy Cabernet Sauvignon you must try Agiorgitko!
Greece has over 200 native grape varieties and Xinomavro is the most important grape in the Naoussa Region of Greece! This wine is often compared to Nebbiolo for its lack of fresh fruit flavors and a color that quickly fades from Ruby to Tawny. This wine has notes of fig, dates, earth, and spice with high acidity and strong tannins. If you’re a Nebbiolo fan, I definitely recommend trying a Xinomavro!
The South of France is perhaps the most well known region for wine in the Mediterranean. This region is also the largest producer of wine in all of France! The climate __ and culture of the French Riveria makes sipping this wine transport you to a fabulous beach with fresh breezes. Featuring wines from the Languedoc Roussillon region, Limoux, and Provence.
The Languedoc – Roussillon region in the South of France is the largest producing region in France, with more wine produced here than in the entire USA. This is a crisp white wine made from the picpoul grape in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It has notes of blossom, citrus and green fruit. This wine would pair perfectly with mussels, shrimp or oysters.
Basically this means sparkling wine from Limoux, France – but it’s still made in the traditional champagne method! The Limoux wine region is located in the eastern foothills of the Pyrénées in southern France with a Mediterranean climate but cooler than most other Southern France wine regions. These wines can be made up of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Mauzac, and Pinot Noir. With the addition of Chenin Blanc in these wines, it adds a fresh and smooth quality that I love. I find notes of white blossom, green apple, citrus, and light nutty aroma. If you love champagne but are looking for something a little less expensive, try a crémant de Limoux next time!
Now when we think wine from the South of France, the popular rosé region, Provence immediately comes to mind! Some of the best and most popular Rosés come out of Provence! Provence borders the Mediterranean and a range of wines but 75% of all production is rosé! These wines are typically made from Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault and a few other grape varieties. This rosé style is known for being dry with a pale pink color from just a few hours of maceration on the skins.
Italy produces more wine than any other country in the world. It has 20 different wine regions! Some of the most famous regions are Tuscany, Piedmont, and Veneto. The two I’m sharing with you below are producing hidden gems.
Puglia is the heel of the boot in the Southeast corner of the country, and because of the region being surrounded by water on all three sides, the influence of the ocean plays a big part in the grape growing. This region has a warm climate, fertile soils and the cool breezes of the Mediterranean to moderate vineyard temperatures. Puglia has some of the best value red wines in Italy. Most Puglia wine is red, full-bodied and will pair well with a wide variety of foods.
Negroamaro which is a dark-skinned grape has notes of fresh red cherry, blackberry, mushroom, licorice and clove. It is super fruit forward so in the summer time it would be delicious with barbecue or something on the grill!
One of the most magical islands in all of the Mediterranean! Known for lemons, pistachios, cannoli, and arancini, this island is also quickly becoming known for its wine. A few of my favorites are Etna Bianco and Nero d’Avola (pretty popular wines from the region).
A fun grape I recently learned about is Zibbibo. Also known as the muscat of Alexandria, this grape goes wayyy back to ancient Egypt times. It was then brought to Sicily and from there distributed to countries all over the world. Zibibbo is an aromatic white grape and it is resistant to drought and hot climates. This one is medium gold color, with notes of peach, green apple, honey, lemon peel and minerals.
This Sicilian white wine is perfect to sip on this summer! This would be so good with any seafood or a creamy pasta dish.
I’ll be honest, before I started searching for wines from the Mediterranean I didn’t even know that Turkey produced wine. Through some research, I’ve learned that it’s kind of purposely on the down-low, due to government rules and regulations. Unlike most wine-producing countries, Turkey has no legally defined Geographic Indications (GI). However, wineries tend to associate themselves with 7 different regions in the country, and this wine is from Central Anatolia!
Kalecik Karasi is a dark skinned Turkish grape variety used to make light to medium body wines with lower tannin and medium to high acidity. It reminds me a little bit of Pinot Noir! This grape is known for being fruit forward with notes of strawberry, raspberry, and cherry, with spices and cotton candy! There are quite a few other popular Turkish grape varieties I am now soo curious to try! Let me know if you have any other Turkish Wine recommendations.
The history of winemaking in Lebanon goes back 7,000 years! The country’s dry, sunny climate and landscape is ideal for grape growing. The Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountains provide protection for the high-elevation vines of the Bekaa Valley with many vines grown at more than 3,000 feet. This wine comes from the globally acclaimed winery, Chateau Musar. It’s a super interesting blend of Viognier, Vermentino, and Chardonnay. On the nose there is tons of floral and green fruit with tropical fruit like passionfruit + minerality on the palate. The acidity is high and the finish is dry and crisp.
The Mediterranean is a beautiful place and there are many other regions and islands producing wine that I haven’t explored yet! The good thing about wine is there is always more to learn