Le Marche is geographically one of the most unusual regions of Italy, being bordered on one side by the Apennine mountains and on the other by the sea. The climate is tempered by warm sea breezes throughout the year, giving wonderful growing conditions, and the mountainous area to the west benefits from higher altitudes and cooler temperatures, allowing grapes a longer time on the vine.
Le Marche is probably most recognised for its cuisine rather than its tourist attractions or industries, being home to Brodetto, a much-varied fish stew consisting of sometimes up to twelve different types of seafood. There is also a wonderful tradition for “crudo”, (raw seafood), and, from the mountains, more hearty offerings such as Porchetta (stuffed roasted suckling pig) and prosciutto.
The wines of Le Marche are as varied as the food, with fresh, fragrant whites to the north of the region and soft, juicy reds to the south, on the Abruzzo border. The most famous wine of all is of course Verdicchio, a native variety with links to Trebbiano di Lugana. However, it has its own very distinctive character, often with notes of fresh herbs and citrus fruits, and a lingering sapidity that can only come from the limestone and mineral-rich soils of the area. Certain winemakers are experimenting with barriqued styles of Verdicchio, some of which can be very long-lived.
Red wines from the Monte Conero (Conero Rosso DOC) are increasing in importance, and the Montepulciano grape that they are predominantly produced from can give stunning results in the limestone soils. Depending on the estate, the wines can vary from soft, fresh and fruity, to rich, heady and dense with firm tannins and great ageing ability. The “super-marchigiano” is a phrase increasingly heard, referring to barrique-aged, small production reds produced either from pure Montepulciano, or sometimes Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah. Lacrima di Morro d’Alba is another interesting DOC, giving lighter but extremely pleasant wines with sweet, soft tannins and bright cherry fruit.
Also worth looking out for are the vini di visciole, a traditional local wine made by re-fermenting the red wine with the syrup of sour wild cherries.
See on clubviniitaliani.co.uk
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