Verdicchio is the plenipotentiary of the wines of this pleasant Adriatic region, whose long-time devotion to whites no longer obscures the increasing merits of its reds. The Castelli di Jesi DOC zone, covering a vast tract of hills west of the port of Ancona, is the home of the Verdicchio that made an early impression abroad in its green amphora bottles. But recently producers have created a new image of Verdicchio as a white wine of special character that comes across even more convincingly in standard bottles.
Class has risen so steadily that even wine still sold in the hourglass-shaped amphora seems a ctut above the general level of popular whites. Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico, has been described as Italy’s premier wine to serve with fish. Some producers make wines that develop such impressive depth and complexity with age that Verdicchio is increasingly ranked among the noblest native white varieties of Italy.
In the region of Marches, Verdicchio di Matelica, grown in limited quantities in a mountainous zone, can have more body and strength than the much better known Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi. Verdicchio from both DOC zones makes good sparkling wine as well, usually by the sealed tank method of fermentation, but also occasionally by the classical method in bottle.
The red wines of the Marches are based chiefly on Sangiovese and Montepulciano – sometimes blended, sometimes not. The most important in terms of volume is Rosso Piceno, dominated by Sangiovese. It comes from a DOC zone covering much of the eastern flank of the region, stretching from the superiore area between Ascoli Piceno and the sea north through the coastal hills to Senigallia.
Rosso Conero, dominated by Montepulciano, has gained even more praise, thanks to the devotion to quality shown by its leading producers. It originates in a zone on the slopes of the Conero massif south of Ancona. Both Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno were habitually made to drink within two to four years, when they are persuasively round and fresh in flavor. But certain producers have made wines that age remarkably well from good vintages – sometimes for well over a decade.
Two unique red wines are gradually gaining more than local reputations: Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, recently promoted to DOCG, and Lacrima di Morro d’Alba. Vernaccia from the village of Serrapetrona may be either dry or sweet but it is always sparkling. Lacrima, a local vine of mysterious origin, makes reds of flavors ranging from fruity dry to mellow sweet.
Sangiovese is prominent in the northern DOC zone of Colli Pesaresi, where wines bear a family resemblance to the reds of neighboring Romagna. Bianchello del Metauro is usually light and zesty but can show style from certain places.
Esino DOC, which coincides with parts of the two Verdicchio zones, provides red and white wines, usually fresh and fruity. The white Falerio dei Colli Ascolani, from hills around Ascoli to the south, can show class when the Pecorino and Passerina varieties.
Although the emphasis remains strongly on native vines, recent results with such outside varieties as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon have shown eminent promise in the temperate hills of the Marches. The regionwide Marches IGT accounts for a major share of production.
Bianchello del Metauro
Falerio dei Colli Ascolani or Falerio
Lacrima di Morro d’Alba
Terreni di San Severino
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Iesi
Verdicchio di Matelica