Located in the central-east part of Italy, stretching from Umbria to the Adriatic coast, Marche remains under the international radar in terms of great wines. Though this perception is about to change, because increasingly the Marche region produces a number of stellar white and red wines.
Winemaking goes back thousands of years, with influences coming from the Etruscans, Romans and Lombards – and the many grape varieties these brought along. In this light it is interesting that today around 2/3 of grape production in Marche is concentrated on only three grapes: Verdicchio, Montepulciano and Sangiovese. In Marche at present there are more than 100 grape varieties in use ready to be discovered among which Lacrima and Vernaccia Nera remain noteworthy
Even though viticulture in the Marche region dates back to ancient times the wines were mostly destined for domestic consumption. The real modernization began after World War II with the planting of fine vines in the hilly areas. Marche’s typography is determined by the Apennines mountain range turning into rolling hills as one approaches the Adriatic Sea.
This and the main rivers Metauro, Potenza, Tronto and Nera provide both warm and cool viticultural areas within the region. Soils are diverse with calcareous clay and limestone being widespread.
Ideal climate for wonderful fruity wines
The hilly area is characterized by a sub-continental climate, with compact fertile soils, where grapes like Biancame, Aleatico and Sangiovese vines find the perfect conditions for easy drinking wines. Inland we find a more continental climate, ideal for Verdicchio and Lacrima. The Mediterranean climate in the coastal area is instead, along with marine sediments rich soils where Montepulciano thrives.
In the beginning of the 20th century, the Piceno area was focused on red wine production based on Sangiovese and Montepulciano grape varieties, while the white wines from Verdicchio, Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes were concentrated in the northern part of the region.
Marche – the best expressions of Verdicchio
The king of the white grape – making up a third of total production – remains Verdicchio. Some of the best-known appellations being Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and Verdicchio di Matelica. These are crisp wines displaying apple and pear flavors, herbaceous undertones with everything being enhanced by Verdicchio's lively acidity.
It's an extremely versatile grape, and in addition to the production of dry wines, it is also used for dessert and sparkling wines. In food, a fine Verdicchio is an excellent match for the local favorite brodetto di pesce, a rich seafood stew. It will also pair well with fish in creamy sauces, seafood risotto and spaghetti with clams.
Do you know when it was introduced the actual bottle shape for Verdicchio?
Only in 1953, the amphora-shaped bottle was created by a local winery, which is today still associated with Verdicchio.
Not only white wines
Red wines in Marche are almost entirely made from the Montepulciano and Sangiovese varieties – with the Montepulciano contributing soft flavours and strong colour and the Sangiovese adding savoury dark fruit, acid and firmer tannins.
The red grape used in Marche, “Montepulciano”, is not to be mistaken with Toscana’s famous appellation “Vino Nobile di Montepulciano”. The red Montepulciano grape of Marche is a noble varietal, boasting firmness, deep colour and high tannins.
Reds based on Montepulciano and Sangiovese blends pair well with classic Italian dishes such as tomato-based pastas, pizza and antipasti but when made in a fuller style the Marche reds can easily also stand up to a heartier fare such as a savoury ragu.
The Rosso Conero DOCG area benefits from the influence of sea breezes, which together with the calcareous composition of the soil makes the production of elegant and bold reds possible. The black Vernaccia di Serrapetrona located near Macerata has a total area of just 45 hectares. It recently experienced a revival and managed to be the first in the Marche to obtain the recognition of the Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin (DOCG). Vernaccia di Serrapetrona wine is a red sparkling wine produced in dry and sweet styles.
Lacrima di Morro d’Alba – pure ”tear” of joy
Don’t forget while you're travelling in Marche the Lacrima di Morro d’Alba, to try an aromatic red wine produced from Lacrima grape that gives the wines an unmistakable aroma of rose petal, generous amounts of sweet forest berry, violet and a touch of cinnamon spice when aged in new oak. It can be produced both still and sparkling wine and in a passito version. In the Offida and Esino DOC areas we find a complete range of wines from white, red and sparkling wines.
Have you ever had a glass of vino cotto?
For the sweet wine lovers Marche has another incredible surprise, the difficult to find, rare and valuable Vino cotto (cooked wine). It is a wine typically from Marche and Abruzzo. It is a strong ruby red wine, and most of the time is semi-sweet, to be served in small glasses at the end of a dinner.
While you are visiting Marche try its vibrating whites and rosé wines. But Fresh aromatic whites with and delicate mineral notes. Generous and juicy medium-structured reds.What are the most popular grape varieties in Marche?
Winemaking in Marche is concentrated on 3 main varieties: Verdicchio for the whites and Montepulciano and Sangiovese for reds.What types of food works well with wines from Marche?
Light reds: cuttlefish with peas, local octopus with potatoes or Prosciutto crudo di Carpegna; Full-bodied reds: great with vincisgrassi – the local lasagne dish; Whites: try the ascolana olives.