Le Marche is a relatively small region lying at the eastern edge of central Italy. In recent decades it has been frequently overshadowed by neighbouring Abruzzo, Umbria and Tuscany, but to dismiss the region as insignificant is to miss out on a vast lineup of exciting wines.
Le Marche has a growing reputation in Italian wine circles and the trajectory is likely to continue. Renewed enthusiasm for the country’s stable of native grapes has thrust the white Verdicchio variety into the limelight as wine lovers fall for its fresh acidity, trendy mineral character and tendency to give unctuous citrus flavours. Verdicchio, known in the north as Trebbiano di Soave and Turbiana is the principal grape of two of the region’s important appellations - Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and increasingly fashionable Verdicchio di Matelica.
Although many producers choose to bottle and label their estate’s every-day white wines as Marche IGP, there remains a steady belief in promoting micro territories. The wines of DOCG Offida are a prime example, with local winemakers comfortable showcasing eminently trendy grapes such as Pecorino and Passerina in connection with one of Italy’s least well known DOCGs. Elsewhere there is support for other terroirs such as the hills immediately north of the town of Pesaro and close to Macerata.
There are some high quality red wine territories as well. The most famous, and perhaps most respected, are the wines produced around the town of Cònero, just south of the coastal city of Ancona. Produced from a minimum of 85% Montepulciano and up to 15% Sangiovese its wines were granted DOCG status in 2004. There are some excellent value wines to be found here and can certainly hold their own against the top wines from neighbouring Abruzzo. They must be aged for a minimum of two years before release.
One of the region’s hidden treasures is the Lacrima di Morro d’Alba grape. As an aromatic red variety it gives powerful floral and berry expressions in the glass and continuously surprises the uninitiated with its concentration of dark fruit. Such natural characteristics also pave the way for a sweet passito wine, which although difficult to find, can be excellent.
Produced around the town of Macerata in Le Marche, the Colli Maceratesi DOC is known for the cultivation of the white Maceratino variety. Alongside this there are a number of simple wines produced from both international red varieties as well as the typical grapes of central Italy.
Bianchello di del Metauro is a white wine appellation in Le Marche focussing on the cultivation of the Biancame grape.
Initially part of the Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC, the Riserva element of the wine became its own DOCG in 2010. In 2011 the name was changed to its current version.
Colli Pesaresi DOC wines come from the hills immediately north of the coastal town of Pesaro in the Le Marche region of central Italy. The appellation is best known for its expressions of Sangiovese.
Cònero is a leading appellation for the production of Montepulciano.
Esino is a very small appellation in Le Marche producing white wines from Verdicchio and reds from Montepulciano and Sangiovese.
Falerio is small winemaking territory located in the province of Ascoli Piceno in Le Marche. It produces blended wines from from local white grape varieties such as Pecorino, Passerina and Trebbiano Toscano. A straight Pecorino is also permitted.
Lacrima di Morro d’Alba DOC covers wines from the Lacrima grape.
Marche IGP is the catch all appellation for regional wines made in Le Marche. It covers red white and rosato wines.
Offida DOCG is a small but high quality appellation in Le Marche, producing white wines from Passerina and Pecorino, and red wines from Montepulciano.
Pergola DOC is a very small appellation showcasing the Aleatico variety. Made as either red or rose, it can also appear as a sparkling or sweet passito wine.
Also known as Rosso Piceno DOC, this small area of Le Marche is produced using Sangiovese and Montepulciano.
Rosso Cònero, named after the Monte Conero which towers over the city of Ancona, is often a good value wine from Le Marche made from a minimum of 85% Montepulciano.
Serrapetrona is produced from the the little known Vernaccia Nera.
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi is one of Italy’s most loved white wines. Its crisp, refreshing interpretation of the Verdicchio grape has won supporters all over the world.
Verdicchio di Matelica is a premium growing area for the Verdicchio wines. Matelica’s long growing season provides higher sugars and thus higher alcohol. It’s relatively high altitude means that is maintains freshness. In addition cool night temperatures add further complexity to its aromatic profile.
Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva builds on the dry white Verdicchio di Matelica DOC category to produce full bodied and long ageing wines that showcase Matelica as one of Italy’s most exciting white wine areas.
Vernaccia di Serrapetrona is a high quality appellation for sparkling red wines made from Vernaccia Nera. Wines can be dry or sweet, but 40% of the fruit must be left to dry on or off the vine to achieve the required minimum alcohol levels.