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A Taste of Le Marche

Although it is not as widely known as some of its more famous neighbors, Le Marche (pronounced Mar-kay) wine region should be on your radar. Le Marche is located on the eastern side of central Italy, nestled between the Apennine Mountains to the west and the Adriatic Sea to the east.

 

There are approximately 60,000 acres of vineyards in Le Marche with varied terroirs throughout. Warm and cool climate zones exist in this region due to the influence of the mountains, rivers and the Adriatic Sea. Calcareous, clay and limestone-rich soils can be found here and are excellent for growing grapes such as the white grapes Trebbiano and Verdicchio that Le Marche is best known for. In fact, Verdicchio has been growing here for over 600 years. Sangiovese and Montepulciano red grapes grow well here as well.

The majority of wines in Le Marche are sold as IGT Marche title (Indicazione Geografica Tipica), but the region also has DOC and DOCG titles as indicated on the map below.

Map is courtesy of Federdoc

This past week I was introduced to the wines of Velenosi Winery located just outside the town of Ascoli Piceno. The dynamic Angela Velenosi co-founded the winery in 1984. Angela had no experience, land or capital, but she did have a vision. Her energy and passion led her to become one of the largest family-owned wineries in Le Marche region with a production of 2.5 million bottles per year and over 25 wine labels. Today Velenosi Winery represents all the appellations throughout Le Marche wine region and Angela is known as “the lady of Le Marche”.  

Angela Velenosi Photo credit: Velenosi Winery

I had the opportunity to taste five wines from the Velenosi portfolio.

Passerina Brut NV is made with indigenous 100% Passerina grapes grown in the vineyards of Ascoli Piceno at an altitude of 200-300 meters above sea level. The grapes are hand-harvested and the wine is produced using the Charmat Method. This is a lively, aromatic sparkling wine with soft fruit and flowers on the nose. A palate of citrus, flowers, light fruit, a hint of bread dough, fine bubbles, lively acidity and creamy texture make this wine a delight to drink.
Alcohol:  12%
SRP:  $15.99

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico 2018 is made with 100% Verdicchio grapes grown in the oldest and original area of Castelli di Jesi, (Marche’s largest DOC area). Verdicchio means, “little green one”. The wines tend to be straw-colored with pronounced green hues and aromas of green fruit. This is a lovely dry wine with floral, fruity and saline aromas that segue onto the palate with green apple giving it the right amount of tartness. The vibrant acidity and a finish of lemon zest make this any easy wine to pair food with.
SRP:  $15.99

Photo credit:  Penny Weiss

Pecorino Offida DOCG Villa Angela 2018 is 100% Pecorino hand-harvested from the vineyards of Ascoli Piceno and Offida at 200-300 meters above sea level. The name Pecorino translated means, “little sheep”, not to be confused with the cheese of the same name. As the story goes, local sheep ate these sweet grapes and considered them a treat. This wine has lots of floral and fruit aromas.  The palate shows tropical fruit, spice, fennel, fresh minerality and vibrant acidity. 
Alcohol:  13%
SRP:  $15.99

Photo credit:  Penny Weiss

Lacrima di Morro DOC Querciantica 2018 is 100% Lacrima di Morro d’Alba harvested from vineyards in the municipalities of San Marcello–Ancona. An interesting note about this grape varietal is that after 25 years it stops producing grapes and needs to be replanted. One of its main characteristics is a “rose and violet flavor”. This wine has sweet aromas of floral, strawberry and cherry that segue onto the palate with soft tannins, spice and dark cherry. This is a beautifully structured wine that is light enough to pair with a vast assortment of cuisine.
Alcohol:  12%
SRP:  $15.99

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Rosso Piceno DOC Superiore Roggio del Filare 2015 This wine is a blend of 17% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese grapes. Grapes are handpicked from vines that are 50+ years old in the vineyards of Offida and Ascoli Piceno at 200 meters above sea level. This wine was aged for 18 months in new French oak. A beautiful and elegant nose of floral, spice, strawberry and cherry leads to a palate of dark fruit, plum, spice and soft tannins. This is a very expressive wine that is full-bodied and well balanced.
Alcohol:  14.5%
SRP:  $35

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

All of the above wines are expressive of the terroir, exhibiting powerful aromas and complexity but light enough to enjoy with most food or as an aperitf. They are all reasonably priced wines that go a long way in value.

Until next time…

Cheers!

Penny

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