Looking for the next Chianti, Barolo, or Brunello? Oenophiles should plan a trip to one of these wine regions in Italy, chosen by experts as the next big thing.
Most wine tourists visiting Italy make a beeline for Tuscany, Piedmont, Veneto, or even Sicily, but these well-loved regions only scratch the surface of what Italy can offer when it comes to wine. The country has hundreds of wine regions, many flying completely under the radar and quietly producing amazing wines you’ve never heard of. We tapped Gabrielle Tacconi, the head winemaker at Tuscany’s iconic Ruffino Winery, and Jack Mason, wine director at New York’s acclaimed Marta restaurant, for their picks on the next Italian wine regions to visit—no matter where you are in the country.
Rossese (Liguria): Both Tacconi and Mason are fans of the Rossese wine region at the foothills of the Ligurian Alps, some 1,600 feet above sea level. Its signature wine, Rossese di Dolceacqua, is a bit like a light red Burgundy, bursting with berries and herbs, but with fewer tannins, more salinity and minerality. “You’ll also find some fun wines coming from super old vines being made in fun, fresh styles by producer Bruna, and with more serious depth from producers like Dringenberg,” says Mason.
Carso (Friuli-Venezia Giulia): Sure, Friuli’s known among wine connoisseurs; but Carso, tucked away in the region’s southeastern reaches near Slovenia, remains largely undiscovered. It’s time to change that. Local producers are turning out some delicious medium- to full-bodied reds from the Terrano grape, a refreshing complement to Friuli’s established stable of light, fruity whites. Carso’s white wines have an edge, too: “They’re especially interesting because they undergo a long maceration, which is more typical for red wine than white,” says Tacconi. The result is more depth and complexity, and an especially beautiful texture.
Valtellina (Lombardia): With its vineyard-cloaked slopes overlooking the Adda River and the Alps, Valtellina has one of Lombardy’s most dramatic wine landscapes, rivaling that of Franciacorta. It’s also home to some of the most interesting and least-known reds wines in Italy: the light-bodied Rosso di Valtellina; the soft Chiavennascas made from the Nebbiolo grape; and an Amarone-style wine called Sforzato. “Valtellina turns out some super-undervalued reds that are as delicate and balanced as great Burgundy,” says Mason.
Teroldego Rotaliano (Trentino-Alto Adige): The Teroldego Rotaliano wine zone—tucked inside Campo Rotaliano, a lush, triangle-shaped plain in northern Trentino—is one of the least-explored corners of wine-rich Trentino. Which is a shame, because the region isn’t just lovely; it produces exciting and unusual red wines that Tacconi says have “amazing, silky tannins; spice; intensely fruity aromas, and a fantastic, deep color.”
Verdicchio di Matelica, Marche
Verdicchio di Matelica (Marche): The vineyards of the Verdicchio di Matelica wine zone in Italy’s sweeping Marche region are worth a visit for the views alone—they’re planted on mineral-rich slopes that form part of the Apennine mountain range, some 1,400 feet above sea level. That soil-and-elevation combo means the Verdicchio produced here is brighter, sharper, and fresher than Verdicchio produced closer to the Adriatic coast, which tends toward the rounder and mellower. “Verdicchio di Matelica might be lesser known than other Verdicchios, but they’re more interesting because they have added minerality and structure,” says Tacconi.
Cesanese del Piglio (Lazio): The wine-producing area of Piglio is slowly gaining traction as one of the hottest “rediscovered” wine regions in Central Italy, thanks to light-bodied but punchy reds made from the native Cesanese grape. “Cesanese del Piglio is often overlooked because many are made as cheap table wines,” says Mason. “That said, there are quite a few rock star producers out there, like Damiano Ciolli and Costa Graia, that are turning these reds into something serious and delicious.” Added bonus: Piglio itself is a true charmer, perched atop a hill overlooking the Sacco valleys and Aniene River.
Grapes of Aglianico del Vulture
Aglianico del Vulture (Basilicata): Though the Aglianico wine region has been around since the 6th century B.C., and gained some traction among wine connoisseurs in the U.S., its “deep, age-worthy reds” have been “largely overlooked” beyond inner circles, according to Mason; like many southern reds, they’re overshadowed by northern counterparts like Tuscan Chianti and Piedmontese Brunello. That said, Aglianico del Vulture’s richness, depth, and structure has wine experts like Mason calling it the “Barolo of the South.”
Greco di Tufo (Campania): Greco di Tufo is a DOCG of Campania—Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, the strictest and most coveted classification for Italian wines—that produces a beautiful white with distinct mineral flavors from the region’s volcanic soils. Unlike many Italian whites, they’re not especially fruity, but have an almond-like quality that makes them “perfect for seafood and pizza,” says Tacconi. The best versions can be found on the volcanic hills of the Avellino province in central Campania—which, as settings go, are pretty spectacular all by themselves.