Le Marche is opportune for me. The Italian Food Wine and Travel group is dipping into Verdicchio from this region, just as I am doing a post on a session on Le Marche I attended at the Wine Media Conference. My plan is to tell you about the region, the Verdicchio and then I may stray into some other delicious wines from the region that I tasted.
Marcia Hamm with Joy of Wine is our host this month as we explore Verdicchio in Italy’s Le Marche region. You can read her preview post here. At the end of this post you will find links to all my Colleagues’ articles on the subject, and…
…if you are interested in learning more about Le Marche and Verdicchio you can join us for an online discussion on Twitter Saturday, April 4th at 8 am Pacific or 11 am Eastern time, by following and using the hashtag #ItalianFWT!
One of the sponsors for the recent Wine Media Conference held in Eugene Oregon was Velenosi Winery. They sponsored a session on the region of Le Marche and its wines which featured wines that they had created.
The Wine Media Conference is for the Wine Industry Media. The Conference itself is paid for primarily through the sponsors. The turnaround is that attendees have promised to write about the sponsors and their experience. You will see more content to fulfill our obligation for posts, but quite honestly, there is so much to write about, that you will see more than our requirement. Please note that all opinions are our own.
(The conference content and wine for tasting at the sessions and excursions were provided by the sponsors, travel, hotel and most meals were paid for by attendees.)
Le Marche is a region on the east coast of Italy on the Adriatic Sea. If you are studying Italian Wine regions, it is one of the regions that is often listed at the end of the chapter, lumped in with a series of regions that are rarely even graced with maps. That may be changing.
This region is in the central part of Italy. Above it, you have the Northern Regions, which are cooler and stretch into the Italian Alps. Below it you have the warmer Southern Regions. Here in the central belt, you begin on the West Coast with Tuscany, Move through Umbria, and then to Le Marche on the Eastern Coast.
Immediately to the North, you find Emilia-Romagna, and South takes you into Abruzzo. West is the Apennine Mountains and East the Adriatic Sea.
With 180 kilometers of coastline, the rest of the region is mountains or hills.
The climate here changes from a more continental climate in the Northwest of Ancona to much more Mediterranean when you reach Ascoli Piceno in the South.
The region has over a dozen rivers descending from the Apennines providing water for agriculture and vineyards.
Wine production here is decidedly smaller than that of Tuscany or the Veneto. But the quality of these rarer wines is improving.
The region has 15 DOCs and 5 DOCGs and has become well known for its Verdicchio with 2 DOCs and 2 DOCGs devoted to the variety.
The wines we were tasting came from Velenosi Vini. This is an inauspicious name to have when wanting to bottle wine. “Velenosi” in Italian means poisonous. Angela and Ercole Velenosi, nonetheless jumped into the industry in 1984 with just 9 hectares of vines. Their company is located in the southern part of the region in Ascoli Piceno. They have farms in Ascoli Piceno, Castorano, Monsampolo and Castel di Lama as well vineyards in Ancarano and San Marcello.
Attilio Pagli is their winemaker, and one of the most respected in Italy. Velenosi has grown to now be one of the largest and most respected producers in the Le Marche region.
They are now moving into the second generation with their children Marianna and Matteo joining the company.
This old variety you may hear spoken of as Trebbiano in this part of Italy. The first mention of Verdicchio comes in 1569. It is often said that the grape originated in the Veneto and came south with farmers fleeing the plague.
(For the geeks in the group: Verdicchio bianca has been found to be genetically identical to Trebbiano di Soave as well as Trebbiano Valtenesi and Trebbiano di Lugana. There are actually several other grapes with several other names that have also been identified as identical. It’s so very Italian. Everyone gives the grape their own name.)
This is a mid to late ripening grape that is susceptible to downy and powdery mildew, as well as botrytis. The air here is cooler than that of Tuscany to the west with good diurnal shifts (the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures, which helps with slowing ripening and keeping acidity in the grapes).
It gets its name from its color. Even when fully ripe Verdicchio maintains its green tones.
This is a complex grape with floral notes of white flowers (chamomile & Hawthorn), fruit notes ranging from citrus to apple, pear, peach, and yellow plum, fresh herbal notes of dill, and fennel, basil, and thyme, as well as mineral notes of sea-spray and petrol. As it ages it develops tones of almond, beeswax, and even umami notes.
Verdicchio is a versatile grape, making delicious young wines as well as wines suitable for aging. It works well with oak. You will find styles from dry to sweet as well as sparkling.
There are two main production areas for Verdicchio in Le March:
- Matelica: this is an area just before the Apennines with significant differences between day and night time temperatures.
- Castelli di Jesi: this area has a more moderate climate, located on gentler slopes.
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC was established in 1968. The Riserva DOCG was set up in 2010.
Querciantica Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico 2020
The Verdicchio we were tasting was the Querciantica Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico 2020. Coming from the oldest vineyard areas around Castelli di Jesi at an altitude of 100 meters.
The soil here is sandy and vines are planted at 5000 plants per hectare (which is a typical planting density). The vines are cordon-trained and spur pruned. This was the 15th vintage for these vines, which are hand-harvested.
After gentle pressing, the wine is aged in stainless steel tanks.
The wine is bright and rich on the nose with a light delicate clean palate. There are floral notes on the nose along with green or yellow apple and crisp white peach. There is something green, perhaps cut grass.
While we did not pair this at the tasting, I would suggest lighter foods as this wine is delicate and you don’t want it to be overwhelmed by the food. A Caprese salad, perhaps one with peaches instead of tomatoes would be lovely. Perhaps a quiche or frittata. This would be a lovely brunch wine. It will pair nicely with seafood perhaps a cioppino or mussels.
Verdicchio was just one of the 4 wines we tasted. We also tasted their:
Villa Angela Offida DOCG Pecorino comes from the southern end of Le Marche. Here the vineyards are a little higher, ranging from 200-300 meters. Richer and deeper in color than the Verdicchio it had a headier nose and a bigger more aromatic mouth with a longer finish.
2019 Lacrima Querciantica di Morro DOC from the district of San Marcello-Ancona where the soils are mainly clay. Grapes for this wine are destemmed and fermented in small stainless steel containers. They do a 20-day maceration on the skins with daily pump-overs (that are almost completely closed) to maintain the aromatics.
This wine stopped me in my tracks. It was all roses and violets on my nose with sweet herbs. The perfume on this, made me want to keep my nose in the glass all day. I was enchanted. The body was light and while its finish was short, it was spicy and bright (think flowers and ginger) in my mouth.
The name of this grape comes from the Italian word for “tear”, as the grapes have a very thin skin that breaks easily.
2017 Roggio del Filare Rosso Piceno DOC Superiore takes us again to the southern part of Le Marche. This wine is 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese, grown in the district of Castorano at about 200 meters. This wine is again fermented in small stainless steel tanks and macerates on the skins for almost a month. Each variety is aged separately in new oak barriques for 18 months before blending bottling and release.
I got blue fruit and cool spice with notes of tobacco, cinnamon, and nutmeg. As it opened I found more black plum and light floral notes. This was a bigger wine with sticky tannins.
This is their flagship wine and has racked up quite the list of awards.
The Roggio del Filare retails for about $69. The other wines can be found for $15-$20 each.
For more on the wines of Le Marche and especially Verdicchio, check out my colleagues’ posts below! If you are up early enough join us on Twitter on Saturday, September 4th as we discuss Verdicchio from Matelica and Castelli di Jesi at 8 am Pacific/11 am Eastern. Just use and follow the hashtag #ItalianFWT to join the conversation.
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm shares Baked Tomatoes Marchigiano Style and a Verdicchio Wine
- Cam at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares Cascatelli, a Brand New Pasta Shape, plus Pievalta Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore 2017
- Pinny at Chinese Food and Wine Pairing shares Querciantica Verdicchio – A Gem from La Marche’s Self-Made Wineamaker Angela Piotti Velenosi
- Terri at Our Good Life shares Scallops and Pasta and a Beautiful Verdicchio
- Nicole at Somm’s Table shares Cantine Belisario Cambrugiano Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva with Brodetto alla Recanatese
- Gwendolyn Alley of Wine Predator shares Verdicchio? Is That A Vegetable? Does It Go With Carbonara?
- Our leader this month, Marcia with Joy of Wine shares Exploring Verdicchio: One of Italy’s Most Ageable White Grapes
More on Italian Wines from Crushed Grape Chronicles
- Pecorino d’Abruzzo – complexity and variety with one grape
- Banish me to Mantua, with a glass of Lambrusco Mantovano
- Lazio – Exploring low intervention wines inspired by tradition and nature
- Bacon and Butternut Pasta with a Langhe DOC Nebbiolo
- Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore and Venetian Inspired Pairings
- Terre di Bacco Prosecco – Day 1 of the 12 Days of Wine 2020
- Prosecco – joyful bubbles to “wring” out 2020
- Delle Venezi DOC – Italian Pinot Grigio raising the bar
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.
I have become enamored with Verdicchio! Thanks for the introduction to the ‘poisonous’ wines. LOL. I chuckled when I read that.
It’s ballsy of them to decide to continue with the family name on the label! The wines I tasted from them were delcious.
Great information Robin. Sounds like the conference was well worth attending.
It really was Wendy. There were some great sessions on wine as well as on writing and the industry. It was also good to get to meet some people IRL, like Gwendolyn, Nicole, Jill, Kat, Jeff, Linda, Liz…am I forgetting anyone?
We love learning about wines around the world and can’t wait to spend a month in Italy next summer!
Oooh. I’m just a little jealous. You will share all your adventures right?
Ah Italy! And another reminder of a region we need to get to ASAP…great overview as always Robin!
Thank you! There are so many places I want to visit!
I missed the Marche tasting so very happy to have a little behind the scenes description!
It’s tough when you have to choose just one tasting to attend! I cheated, and while I attended this one, Michael was in the Pinot Grigio tasting, so I had his notes on Delle Venezie!
Also, these photos are definitely making me want to travel there asap!
Isn’t it a beautiful region!