Marche - Food and Wines - Wines
Verdicchio is the plenipotentiary for the wines of this pleasant Adriatic region, whose devotion to whites should not obscure the worthiness 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 bottle.
But recently producers have created a new image of Verdicchio as a white of special character that comes across even more convincingly in standard bottles. Quality has risen so steadily that even wine still sold in amphora seems a cut above the general level of popular whites. This seems to herald a revival for a white produced at the rate of more than 20 million bottles a year that has been described as Italy's premier fish wine.
Verdicchio di Matelica, grown in limited quantities in a higher inland zone, can have more body and strength. From some estates it can develop into a white of unexpected depth and character after two or three years in bottle. Verdicchio from both DOC zones and elsewhere makes convincing sparkling wine as well, usually by the charmat method, but also ocasionally by the classical method of bottle fermentation. Until two decades ago, when Verdicchio was still largely a local wine, it was more often bubbly than not.
The region's other white wines, such as Bianchello del Metauro and Falerio dei Colli Ascolani, are usually light and zesty, also invariably good with seafood.
The red wines of the Marches are based chiefly on Sangiovese or 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 nearly the entire 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, originates in a small zone on the slopes of the Conero massif south of Ancona. Both wines are habitually made to drink within two to four years, when they are persuasively round and fresh in flavour, though certain producers have made wines that age remarkably well from good vintages - sometimes for a decade or more. The DOC Sangiovese dei Colli Pesaresi, from the northern Marches, bears a strong family resemblance to the Sangiovese of neighbouring Romagna.