Often described as “unspoiled,” Le Marche, one of Italy’s twenty distinct wine regions, sits on the Adriatic Sea on the north-central east coast. The rolling hills descending to the sea become increasingly menacing and dramatic as one heads west and south, where the landscape is dominated by the often snow-capped Apennine mountains. Besides it’s wines - which are, in my opinion, unfairly overlooked in deference to the wines of its neighbors in Tuscany and Umbria - Marche is well known for its shoemaking tradition, with the finest and most luxurious Italian footwear being manufactured in this region. Culturally, it’s most famous progeny was the great renaissance painter Raphael, who was born in the city of Urbino - which, like many villages in the region, retains much of its medieval hillside character.
The wines of Le Marche have been so overshadowed by the princely and pricey wines of its neighbors that a popular tourist site doesn’t even mention that wine is made there! However, as I have learned over the past two years or so, not just any wine but very, very good wine is made throughout the region.
At Palate Wines & Spirits, we have just brought four wonderful wines from Le Marche into the store.
The DeAngelis Marche Rosata ($14.95) comes from the Ascoli Piceno region, in southernmost Marche, with vineyard holdings straddling the Abruzzo line. It makes sense then that their rose is made with the most renown grape variety in the Abruzzo region - Montepulciano. It is a lightly savory and refreshing food-friendly delight of a wine, perfect for summer’s light fare.
Andrea Felici’s Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi ($16.95) comes from what is considered the world’s best region for the Verdicchio grape, in the central west portion of the region. The wine, made of 100 percent Verdicchio, is a good example of the tension between fruit and minerality found in many of the world’s great white wines. A perfect accompaniment for hard cheeses, shrimp, scallops, whitefish or egg dishes.
Turning everything up a notch (or two or three), Sartarelli, considered by many to be one of the world’s best producers of Verdicchio wines, bottles the Tralivio Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore ($19.95) for those who appreciate the balance of fruit and minerality in a richer, broader, more sophisticated expression. This is a wondrous white and a perfect match for the best bloom and washed rind soft cheeses, roasted vegetables and just about anything this side of tomato sauce and grilled meats.
Finally, we have brought in Lucchetti’s Guardengo Lacrima di Morro d’Alba Superiore ($19.95), perhaps the best expression of the Lacrima varietal I and my friends have ever tasted. A single vineyard selection, this deep red wine stands above and beyond in my experience due to it’s sumptuous balance of ripe fruitiness, fine tannins, earthyness and a fine, dry acidity - all of this coming through in aromas and flavors unique to this grape. Wonderful all by itself or with hearty meals of grilled beef, lamb, pork, stinky blue cheeses and rustic breads.