Above: Samples of tufaceous (left) and calcareous (right) subsoils from Jesi.
Pievalta winery in the heart of the Castelli di Jesi.
The roughly ten-year-old winery is the first and only Demeter-certified winery in Jesi and the wines are truly stunning in their ability to deliver bright, balanced acidity with a breath-taking range of fruit and minerality.
We loved the wines and we loved Alessandro and Siliva, with whom we became fast friends (more on them later).
The wine Dominè (named after a local tavern keeper), made from grapes grown in calcareous soils. It was lighter in body and fresher than the more structured San Paolo Riserva, Tracie P’s favorite, grown partly in tufaceous soils, more tannic and unctuous and deeper in its minerality. Both wines were superb.
When you taste the wines with Alessandro and Silvia, Alessandro produces soil samples from their growing sites. I can’t think of a better way to illustrate the differences than the photo I snapped above and in the different expressions of Verdicchio that they bottle.
Not to be confused with Loire valley’s tuffeau (according to the Oxford Companion to Wine; in French, the Italian tufo is rendered as tufe or tuffe), “calcareous tufa [or tufo is] ‘a porous or vesicular carbonate of lime, generally deposited near the sources and along the courses of calcareous springs’ (Page Handbk. Geol. Terms, 1865),” according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Calcareous, on the other hand, comes from calcaire, “French word for limestone, a rock largely made up of calcium carbonate, which may in English be described as calcareous” (Oxford Companion to Wine).