“Geek wines” are by far the most fascinating to me. For me, geek wines are the kinds that are made from grapes we don’t usually hear about, or come from lesser known regions.
French wine laws place great importance on region, and we can see by most French labels that they name the region only, expecting the wine drinker to know which grapes will make up the wine, based upon knowing the region where the wine is produced. In my opinion, however, Italian wines are the most region-centric, in that there are so many wines being made of grapes that are grown only in the most remote regions and areas of Italy - and most of those grapes are unknown to the rest of the world. To me, those are really geek wines.
In the past year, i’ve gotten to try some fascinating whites from Italy (I do realize that aside from Pinot Grigio, most people think of Chianti as the Italian wine) - Erbaluce di Caluso from Piemonte, Petite Arvine and Prie Blanc from Valle d’Aosta, Insolia, Catarratto, and Grecanico from Sicily to name a few. Now I’m selling Italian wines from the book I represent, and some of the whites include Trebbiano and Pecorino from Abruzzo, and Greco di Tufo, Falanghina, Fiano de Avellino, and Coda di Volpe from Campagna. Some interesting reds I also sell are Aglianico from Campagna and Brachetto from Piemonte. The challenge in selling wines like that - the kind few Americans have heard of - is that if the consumers are unaware of the wine, they might not buy it, so if the shops and restaurants feel perhaps they can’t move the cases of off-beat wines, they might not take the risk and buy them from a distributor.
What’s so great about the off-beat Italian wines is that they aren’t produced anywhere but those small, specific regions, made with great attention to detail and allowed to express their own identity, and are still relatively inexpensive due to unpopularity. They’re worth trying and Italian wines are known to be very food friendly, and I think it’s exciting to try something uncommon and form my own opinion about it before it becomes popular.