★ ★ ★Exceptional  ★ ★Excellent ★Very Good

Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be sold at additional stores. Prices are approximate. Check to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

(Goran Kosanovic/For The Washington Post)

Here are five exciting wines from Bulgaria, Macedonia and Turkey to begin your exploration of the Balkans and Asia Minor. They may test your pronunciation and tolerance for diacritical marks, but they should delight your palate. The Castra Rubra wines are just reaching the Washington market and should be more easily obtainable in the District and Maryland in a few weeks. The stores listed here are good sources for the G&B wines.

Kavaklidere Yakut Öküzgözü-Boĝazkere 2013

★ ★ ★

Eastern Anatolia, Turkey, $13

Wow. This blend of indigenous Turkish grapes is stunningly good for the price. And it only gets better after a day or more, so if you find yourself underwhelmed, try something else and come back to this one later. It is beautifully balanced and offers dark-fruit flavors and savory earthiness, anchored with those grippy tannins that hold your palate and your imagination. Note to self: Stock up on this one before this review appears! Alcohol by volume: 13.5 percent.

Stefano Selections: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Potomac Wine & Spirits; on the list at Agora, Ankara. Available in Maryland at Asadur’s Market & Wine in Rockville, Broadway Liquors in Baltimore, Jason’s Wine & Spirits in Ellicott City, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, the Perfect Pour in Elkridge; on the list at Ayse Meze Lounge in Frederick, Cazbar in Baltimore, Rudy’s Mediterranean Grill in Columbia.

Stobi Vranec Veritas 2011

★ ★ ★

Tikves, Macedonia, $22

Vranec is a deep-colored red grape variety genetically related to California’s zinfandel and to Plavac Mali in the Balkans. This is a lovely, savory wine that cries out for charcuterie or a hearty beef stew. ABV: 14.2 percent.

Winebow: Available in the District at Batch 13, MacArthur Beverages, Rodman’s; on the list at Del Campo, Nopa Kitchen + Bar, the Red Hen.

Diren Öküzgözü Collection 2012

★ ★ 1 / 2

Turkey, $19

Medium-light in weight, with a delightful fruitiness reminiscent of Beaujolais or pinot noir, this is an excellent foil for cured dried meats and sausages. It benefits from some cabernet sauvignon that gives it heft. ABV:13.3 percent.

Siema: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, DCanter; on the list at Ankara. Available in Maryland at Cork & Fork and Cork 57 Beer and Wine in Bethesda, Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring, State Line Liquors in Elkton; on the list at Rudy’s Mediterranean Grill in Columbia. Available in Virginia at Little Washington Winery Tasting Room in Washington, Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria; on the list at Kapnos Taverna and Yayla Bistro in Arlington.

Castra Rubra Motley Cock 2011

★ ★

Thracian Valley, Bulgaria, $16

This blend is based on the classic varieties of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, so it might seem like any other Bordeaux-style blend from anywhere in the world — except for the addition of 20 percent mavrut. That Bulgarian grape variety lends the wine an appealing earthy quality, like damp soil in a distant part of the forest that smells like no place else. ABV: 14.5 percent.

G&B: New to the market but should soon be available in the District at Calvert Woodley; in Maryland at in Gaithersburg, the Wine Harvest (Gaithersburg, Potomac).

Bulgariana Pinot Noir 2011

★ ★

Danube Plain, Bulgaria, $14

It’s a dark-colored, deep-flavored pinot that’s similar to those from the Russian River Valley or Anta Maria Valley in California. ABV: 13.5 percent.

G&B: New to the market but should soon be available in the District at Calvert Woodley; in Maryland at in Gaithersburg, the Wine Harvest (Gaithersburg, Potomac).