There are over 2,000 fairly common unique grape varieties from which wine is regularly produced, and another 300 or 400 varietals that many of us have simply never heard of.
Best of all, many of these lesser-known varieties and blends are produced in Italy and tend to deliver a lot of quality for the money. Here are a few wonderful wines made from these varieties, all priced for under $20.
Valpolicella, a wine-producing region in the Italian province of Verona near Lake Garda, is famed for its Amarone wines. It is also home to the 2015 Villa Maffei Valpolicella Ripasso, a kid-brother to the more popular Amarone, derived from Corvina grapes dried on rooftops or in drying barns to concentrate the juice. With Ripasso, grapes dried by a similar process are added to the must of a dry wine. It offers up lovely flavors of condensed pomegranate, dark cherry, roasted coffee and dried herbs. Notes of dark cocoa highlight the charming finish. $17
Italy knows a thing or two about wine. After all, they have been producing wine in one form or another for eons. To this day, many people still think of Chianti (also known as Sangiovese) when they think of Italian wine, even though there are hundreds of wine grape varieties grown throughout the country.
One of my favorite white wines is made from Verdicchio. The 2018 Villa Bucci Verdicchio Classico dei Castelli di Jesi from the Marche region on Italy’s Adriatic coast. It produces a delightfully complex wine with aromas of lemon-lime citrus, nectarine and acacia flowers. Flavors of white peach, ripe nectarine and grapefruit fill the mouth and coat the entire palate. The crisp acidity and bracing minerality highlights the notes of Meyer lemon on the bright, clean finish. $19
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