The Wines of Marche
The Wines of Marche
Located in Central Italy on the Adriatic Coast, Marche (pronounced ‘mar-kay’) is somewhat isolated from the rest of Italy. Minimal urban development or major highways allow for the region’s heritage to shine., and rolling hills dotted with castles looking out towards the sea are a common site.
The wines of Marche were mostly consumed locally until some clever marketing tactics launched the wines of Castelli di Jesi into the spotlight in the 1960s. Until the recent trend and resurgence of indigenous Italian grapes, the rest of Marche’s wines were largely unknown.
Marche is known best for Verdicchio. Appelations around the towns of Jesi and Matelica are the best expressions. Verdicchios from Jesi tend to be fruitier and more floral. The wines of Matelica retain higher acid and are more citrus and mineral forward.
Reds based on Montepulciano and Sangiovese have increased in quality and popularity, especially in southern Marche. The hills surrounding Monte Conero (see top cover photo) are ideal for Montepulciano. The Conero appellation is considered one of the best.
Many unique wines exist in Marche such as Lacrima di Morro d’Alba, an intensely fragrant yet supple red from the North, as well as a variety of off dry sparkling reds based on the rare Vernaccia grape.
The Pecorino grape is planted all over central Italy, but Marche is its home. The wines of Offida have the highest quality designation for Pecorino. Unrelated to the sheep’s milk cheese, Pecorino is thought to have derived its name from being a favourite snack of sheep (‘pecora’ in Italian) being herded through the vineyard dotted countryside.
The Lacrima grape, meaning ‘tear’ in Italian, gets its name from the tear-like drops of juice that drip from the grapes when they are ripe.
The great renaissance artist, Raphael was born in Marche, as well as influential educator, Maria Montessori, and opera composer Gioachino Rossini.
Marche is a stronghold for organic viticulture. Around 20% of vineyards are farmed organically, representing 7% of Italy’s total organic vineyards.