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Marvels on the Margins: The Great Overlooked Wines of Italy, Part 1 - Introduction

Marvels on the Margins: The Great Overlooked Wines of Italy, Part 1: Introduction

Barolo, Barbaresco, Chianti Classico and Brunello produce under 2% of all Italian wine, but they get 90% of our attention here in America. Italy – unlike France – has a strong wine tradition in every single one of its regions, from the Valle d’Aoste to Sicily. Even within the two regions that we do focus on – Piedmont and Tuscany – we tend to simply ignore the numerous DOCs and wines that fall outside of Barolo, Barbaresco, Chianti and Brunello.

If you’re a fan of Flatiron Wines, you know that we love adventure. Exploring the world of wine is what we do. If you’ve read my series on the Edges of Burgundy, you know that I strongly believe in stepping outside of the world’s most famous regions to discover what lies just beyond. It is there, I’m convinced, that the world’s best wine values – and perhaps the wine world’s “next big thing” – can be found.

In Burgundy, I brought you to vineyards just outside of the famous names in the Cote d’Or, like St. Aubin (now a “next big thing”) or Mercurey (still an amazing source of value). In Italy, I will take you up and down the boot, looking at some regions that are just adjacent to the famous names and often even use the same grape varieties – Alto Piemonte and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – and some regions that do their own things entirely, like the amazing Aglianico's of Campania and Basilicata, the mountain wines of the Alto Adige, and the red and white wines of Mt. Etna in Sicily.

Italy is full of rare grape varieties and obscure regions on far flung islands or high on mountain slopes. This is not a series about those wines. As much as I love embarking on those kinds of adventures, I’m going to have to leave that one for another time, and perhaps another person.

The goal of this series is to deliver something more practical to wine lovers: profiles on wine regions with deep and serious wine traditions, producing great wines that consumers can actually purchase, drink, and collect. The kinds of wines that – if I were starting a cellar today and felt priced out of Barolo and Brunello – I would want to focus on. Great wines that are not quite obscure, but that are overlooked – and underpriced – in the marketplace. I’m calling these wines the Marvels on the Margins, and I’m excited to begin.

Please head over to Part 2 of this series to read about my first Marvel: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.