Last night I sat through a presentation on wines of Le Marche, Italy by Petra Belliti, Italian Wine Ambassador and a Vinitaly International and NASA Italian Wine Specialist. We discussed the grape varietals that are grown in the region and how different soil (or terroir) affects the development of the same grapes.
The region of Le Marche is made up primarily of hills and mountains. There are five provinces within Le Marche and the town of Ancona is considered the capital of the region. Le Marche has 60,000 acres of vineyards at an altitude of about 1,300 feet. The area is rich in limestone, but it also contains calcareous, mineral heavy clay which produces chalky wines with fruit and mineral flavors. The region is mostly known for it’s white wines and it has grown by 56 percent in the last decade. Because of this, they now have 5 wines with DOCG status and 20 with DOC status. The US is one of the top buyers of their wines.
(Image by Turismo Cupramontana)
The most common white wines you’ll find in Le Marche are Verdicchio, Pecorino, Bianchello, and Passerina. Verdicchio is probably the most common white wine from this region that you’ll find here in the states. It is a very versatile grape that ripens slowly and evenly. Its wine ages well and has an affinity with oak aging. This grape loves the limestone in the soil. You’ll find two types of Verdicchio wine. Jesi and Matelica. Jesi is more coastal and the wines have round almond flavors. Matelica is inland and the wine has more mineral flavors. This is due to the difference in the soil or terroir. Grapes really adapt to the soil they’re planted in which can change their flavor profile.
(A bottle of Verdicchio and Passerina)
The most common reds you’ll find in Le Marche are Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Piceno, and Lacrima de Morro D’Alba. The Montepulciano is the most popular of this region and is mostly produced in Ancona, Macerata, and Ascoli Piceno. The vineyards that grow this grape are on the upper hills though it does not ripen evenly and it ripens late making it a difficult varietal. It does best in hot, dry conditions in clay rich soils.
(A bottle of Montepulciano and Piceno)
The region of Le Marche has long been in the shadow of Tuscany, though it is starting to get more recognition for the great wines that it produces. It’s a beautiful part of the county centrally located in Italy just northeast of Tuscany and Umbria. I encourage you to seek out their wines and try some for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.