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When I said I was headed to Cantina Vallana in the Alta Piemonte—the northeast of the region—I saw the eyebrows arch. Then would come the “Why?”

After all, the Vallanas aren’t on the current list of hipster-approved wines. But from the 1950s to the 1980s—when I first encountered them—they had their celebrated moment. My friend Peter (aka the Young Collector in The Battle) discovered the wines while reading Frank Prial in The New York Times back in the late 70s.