Exploring Italy’s Marche Region

Though every region in Italy produces wine, some regions tend to hog the spotlight.  Tuscany immediately comes to mind for its Chianti and Brunello, as does Piedmont’s Barolo, Lombardy’s Pinot Grigio and Veneto’s Prosecco.

The Marche region is not as familiar to me.  Had you asked me a few weeks ago to name a varietal from this area I wouldn’t have been able to give you an answer.

Marche regionI recently had the opportunity to learn more about the Marche region (pronounced mar-kay), at a wine dinner hosted by the Institute for the Safeguard of Wines from the Marche Region.  The consortium was established by national law to promote awareness of the Marche and ensure the protection of wines in the region which have been granted designation of origin status.

The Marche is on the central eastern coast of Italy, on the Adriatic sea.  Just look to the east of Tuscany on a map and you’ve found it.

The Marche’s main white grape is Verdicchio.  This varietal produces dry white wines of the same name that are fresh in flavor and high in acidity.  They make good pairings for light pasta dishes, salads and seafood.

VerdicchioOf the two I got to taste, I really liked the 2006 Villa Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC ($20).  It is 100% Verdicchio and spent three months in used French oak barrels.

The wine is pale straw yellow in color with green reflections and has inviting aromas of ripe lemon, orange zest and white flowers.  The taste is crisp and refreshing, with flavors of green apple, citrus and a hint of honeysuckle that end in a clean finish.

Other white wine varietals grown in the Marche include Vernaccia, Lacrima and Maceratino.

CumaroThe Marche produces a number of high quality red wines as well.  At the wine dinner I enjoyed the 2005 Umani Ronchi Cumaro Conero Riserva DOCG ($45).  It’s 100% Montepulciano, a grape which is also grown in the Abruzzo region just south of the Marche.  The Conero Riserva is ruby red in color with red fruit on the nose.  The palate is filled with juicy blackberries, cherries, plum and a lingering hint of spice.  Gripping tannins give the wine a nice texture.  This wine makes a good pairing for braised red meat and game.

Though I didn’t get to taste an example at the wine dinner, Sangiovese is also grown in the Marche region.

I’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to wines from the Marche but now that I know a bit about this region I look forward to tasting more!  Besides, isn’t it more fun to go off the beaten path rather than sip a ubiquitous Super Tuscan?