Wines and People
The Le Marche region has a lot to offer to wine lovers. There are 5 DOCG wines and 16 DOC wines. From the prestigious and famous Verdicchio, to the Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, from the Offida Pecorino to the Offida Passerina. Also: Bianchello del Metauro, Colli Maceratesi, Colli Pesaresi, Esino, Falerio dei Colli Ascolani, I Terreni di Sanseverino, Lacrima di Morro d'Alba, Rosso Conero, Pergola, Rosso Piceno, San Ginesio Many of these wines are little known outside of Italy but visitors to the region have a pleasant surprise when they try the local wine produced by many small aziendas and cantinas.
Curated by Mariano Pallottini
Lucchetti Lacrima Di Morro d’Alba 2011
$17.95, 88 points, Vintages 310094
Lacrima de Morro d’Alba is from Marche on the Adriatic (not related to the town/region of Alba in Piedmont. This is a very fruity, soft, rounded and pleasant young red with purple-ruby colour and generous aromas of candied plums, red licorice twizzler and some leesy character. It’s medium weight, soft and well balanced with the barest dusting of tannin. The length is good. Chill lightly.
Michelangelo gave the name 'Rosso Bello' or Beautiful Red to a brilliant red color that this full bodied wine is named after. This wine was produced in the land of Ascanio Condivi, named after the apprentice, friend and biographer of Michelangelo. You will find this wine intense and persistent recalling red fruits, cherries, rose petals & violets.
It might surprise you to know that Sangiovese is actually quite scarse outside of Italy. In terms of world plantings, Sangiovese is less abundant than even little-known Mourvedre.
The Sangiovese grape is a bit of a chameleon; easily altering its genetics to fit the environment. There are many different mutations of the variety all over Italy, which results in very different tasting wines. From the delicate floral strawberry aromas of Montefalco Rosso to the intensely dark and tannic wines of Brunello di Montalcino, Sangiovese wine has something for everyone.
The Taste of Sangiovese Wine
Sangiovese is savory. Because of its ability to be a chameleon, Sangiovese wines offer a wide range of tastes from very earthy and rustic–as is the case with many Chianti Classico– to round and fruit-forward. Regardless of where it’s grown, it always exhibits cherry flavors with more subtle notes of tomato.
They next time you try a Sangiovese, dedicate yourself to sit and sniff it for a while. Over time you’ll find that aromas move towards dried cherries, figs and roses –especially if the wine is older.
The most sought after Sangiovese-based wines have a balance between their fruit and earth components. So to say ‘fruit-forward’ is better than ‘rustic’ really doesn’t do it justice. Suffice it to say, if you usually drink American wines, attempt to make your first Italian Sangiovese purchase a fruit-forward style. Heya.. How do you order Italian wine anyway?
A classic example of a fruit-forward producer of Sangiovese is Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona. This particular wine tastes of clove-spice and cherries; it’s like drinking Christmas. The people at Wine Spectator liked it so much they awarded it top 10 of 2012. Damn Jim, get out your wallet.
Rustic & Traditional Sangiovese
Grippy tannins, not dissimilar to putting a black tea bag in your mouth, are highlighted with dark chocolate and smoke flavors. Hints of oregano in the aftertaste make this wine taste 100% savory from start to finish. Pairs perfectly with rich steaks and black pepper… grrrr!
Sangiovese Food Pairing
Sangiovese pairs with a wide range of foods because of its medium weighted body and savory character. Use Sangiovese’s savory as a congruent flavor with herbs and tomatos. This technique will actually bring out more fruity flavors in the wine.
A Sangiovese with high tannins will work perfectly with rich roasted meat, cured sausages and hard cheeses.
The wine estate Azienda Agricola Valturio was founded by Adriano Galli and Isabella Santarelli in 2002 with the aim of restoring the production of high quality wine to Montefeltro following centuries-old traditions that date from the times of the Dukes of Montefeltro to the beginning of the last century.
At the beginning of the nineteen hundreds, the Antimi Clari family, one of the most illustrious of Macerata Feltria, repeatedly won gold medals at the National Wine Exposition of Turin and traces of old barriques can still be found in the cellars of Palazzo Gentili Belli.
The late lawyer Egisto Gentile Belli narrated that at the beginning of the last century, his family was supplying products from its spinning-mills to France in exchange for small oak barrels used for aging wine.
Gambero Rosso appears to be more of a "hit and run" tasting than the aptly named "Slow Wine". Tasters dart from table to table in an attempt not to miss "the next great wine" yet, in doing so, miss the gems hiding in plain sight. I'll explain more about this below, but the "sheeple" mentality was alive and well last week and I used it greatly to my advantage.
As with the Slow Wine article, given the size of the taste received and the fact that the wines were largely tasted without food, I will provide a range of scores below. Unless otherwise noted, all wines received the "Tre Bicchieri" designation. There were some producers offering additional wines.
My first stop was at the perennial producer from Le Marche, Umani Ronchi. Years ago, a good friend of mine turned me onto their "Super Marche" blend, "Pelago" and I have been a fan of theirs ever since. They were pouring their Tre Bicchieri white wine and were represented by the youthful, energetic family member, Michele Bernetti. He seemed humbled when I mentioned Pelago, and was very proud to point out that their white was named White Wine of the Year, by Gambero Rosso.
Poggio di Sotto
Badia a Coltibuono
Marchesi di Barolo
Tenuta San Guido
Tenuta Sette Ponti
Casanova di Neri
Canalicchio di Sopra
Tenimenti Luigi d'Alessandro
The molecular approach to wine pairing proposed by one of Ferran Adrià’s collaborators intrigues F&W’s Ray Isle—especially when his own cooking experiments show that it actually works.
Chartier is a French-Canadian sommelier and the author of the book Taste Buds and Molecules, released earlier this year in the US. Now a consultant for restaurants around the world, the man has substantial avant-garde credibility: The book is the culmination of six years of research on why some foods and wines go together well, and why other ones don’t. There are plenty of books out there about pairing, but Chartier’s approach is different—in fact, it’s so radically different that it’s either groundbreaking or completely crazy.
Chartier’s basic idea is that the aromatic molecules in certain wines and foods act as sensory bridges. So, for instance, raspberries and nori go together well because the aromas of both are dominated by the compound beta-ionone, which also appears in Cabernet Sauvignons, among other red wines. Raspberries, nori and Cabernet go well together on a molecular level, and our sense of smell picks up on it. That we perceive their similarities aromatically is particularly significant because most of what we think of as flavor—what makes a raspberry taste like a raspberry, in this case—comes from our sense of smell. The tongue only picks up sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, tartness and umami (a Japanese term for what could roughly be called savoriness).
While Allie get's 'strawberry shortcake', Peter find 'rhubarb shortcake' on the nose of a wine with much to say. With shortcake as the common denominator in terms of aromatics, they debate a bit on the black licorice notes found (or not) on the palate. Tune in and tip back with Peter & Allie as the 2009 Umani Ronchi Casal di Serra Vecchie Vigne Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore is tasted & talked about.
Wine tasting can be a complicated art that involves the senses of sight, smell and touch in addition to taste. But knowing even the basic techniques of wine tasting can help enhance a person's experience. This animation is a step-by-step introduction to how to taste wine.
"Made from 100% Verdicchio. After a careful thinning out in vineyard follows a soft grapes pressing previously cooled. During a fermentation of 15 days at Fattoria Laila wineries on its cask, must is preserved at a low temperature in special thermo barrels. The fermentation ended, wine is put on barrique and everyday moved to keep the lees suspended. The color is bright straw yellow with greenish reflections. The nose is delicate, with a slight fragrance of wild flowers. On the palate it is dry and smoothly with a slightly bitter aftertaste (This wine can be considered as one of the highest quality white wines). Food pairing suggestions include aperitifs, starters and fish." - Winery
"Fattoria Laila in Corinaldo lies in the rolling hills of the Marche, overlooking the Adriatic Sea on the east coast of Italy. Verdicchio and Montepulciano, indigenous varieties in our 'Il Libretto' project, are cultivated here under the guidance of Lorenzo Landi, enologist, who has helped to establish strict limits in the vineyard in order to craft excellent wines. Today, Laila is the leading vineyard project in all of the Marches, with densities that reach 8,000 plants per hectare, based on viticultural research not practiced anywhere else in this region."
"In 1990, Andrea Crocenzi took over the Fattoria Laila preserving many of the traditional methods of farming, but introducing new technology into the cellar and improved vineyard plantings to bring a centuries old estate up to date. His wines reflect the characteristics of his own charismatic and hard working personality: Elegance and Exuberance. An important momentum has been added with the arrival of Lorenzo Landi, winemaker with great experience, who has helped Andrea Croscenzi focus on a style unique to this winery."
This was rated 87 points in the Wine Enthusiast.
Last Tuesday was just one of them days. I arrived at the Union Station about 11:45 a.m. for Gambero Rosso's 2013 Tre Bicchieri tasting and found myself the first in line. Long story short, I realized it didn't start until 2 p.m. which limited my available time frame. I became determined. That is how I ended up trying 16 wines in 16 minutes.
That's power tasting. Obviously I couldn't take notes but having worked in a Italian restaurant that boasted over 650 wines in two and a half years - all my memories of tasting Italian wines came right back to me.
There you have it. My 16 wines in 16 minutes.
I read a striking article this week about the homogeneity of Californian winemaking, compared with the diversity of wine styles in Europe. While Steve Heimoff, the author, bemoaned the dominance of Cab Sauv, Merlot, Chardonnay and Zinfandel on America’s west coast, he exalted the use of local indigenous grapes in places like Italy.
Here at Window On Wine we like a native grape too. So here’s a wine of which we and Steve (would) approve – Taste the Difference Verdicchio Classico dei Castelli di Jesi 2011. To take that local feeling one step further, it is bottled in the traditional amphora bottle shape – a custom since the 1950′s for this wine from the Marche region in eastern central Italy. The Verdicchio grapes are joined by ten per cent of Trebbiano in this blend.
The grape is said to get its name from the “verde” – green – hue it gives to the wine it makes. That greenness is only a hint, this Verdicchio is more like pale straw in colour. It smells of lemon zest with a sort of fresh stoniness. I thought I smelled almonds too. The taste has more citrus zing and minerality with good acidity too. It’s a dry and crisp wine. There’s not masses of flavour or length here so drink it on its own or maybe with grilled fish or a simple creamy pasta dish. It’s a good midweek white.
Taste the Difference Verdicchio Classico dei Castelli di Jesi 2011 is available from Sainsbury’s priced £7.49.
W.O.W. Factor 6.5
100% Verdicchio. Light, straw yellow with greenish hues. Fresh and persistent aromas of white flowers almonds and summer fruits. Very balanced, with freshness and sapidity. Dry, elegant and very easy to drink.
Suggest: Fish, white meat, pasta with cream sauces.
"GOLD" Raisin wine Moroder Wines
Once again, Azienda Agricola Gabriele Vitali have been recognised for the quality of their wine. This time it's their Falerio Pecorino DOP that caught the eye, or rather the palate, of the Associazione Italiana Sommelier in Le Marche.
Made from 100% Pecorino grapes (a very old variety specific to this region), the wine is straw coloured with a greenish tint with aromas of accacia, linden and jasmine. It goes well, with fish, white meat, fresh cheeses, cured hams.
For anyone visiting this part of Le Marche, it's well worth going to Azienda Agricola Vitali, near Montelparo (about 30 mins from La Mela Rosa), to enjoy one of their fabulous wine tastings. Each bottle of wine comes with a platter of food that compliments the wine.
Have a look at their website www.casalevitali.it. It's in English as well as Italian.
Classic Italian with a Mediterranean flair to it.
Harvested by hand, this Verdicchio by Antonio Failoni has been fermented in stainless steel vats and also left to rest on its lees in stainless steel. Therefore producing a wonderfully crisp, fresh white wine. Perfect with seafood and white meat dishes.
£7.95 - was £9.95
Brand new to the store, a very pleasant red blend from the Marche, (Civitanova Marche Alta is the town) by Azienda Agroforestale Fontezoppa. In the mix: 50% Sangiovese, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot; on the nose: Sangiovese rules, with all its glorious aromas, a braid of fruit, wood and acidity, soft and fragrant; on the palate: the first thing that hits you is black pepper, gently, and it never goes away, and then suave tannins, friendly and lean but with perfect fruit dosage! Repeat all the way to the finish, with that salt and pepper strand throughout. The only thing missing here is sitting in that little village on the Adriatic coast of Italy, away from the burning sun, sipping on the wine while gazing across the sea at the Croatian coast!
Six eclectic white wines and four reds today, ranging in price from about $13 to $25, with a couple that merit ranking as Bargains and Values. As usual, little in the way of historical, geographical or technical detail; instead I offer quick reviews intended to pique your interest and whet your palate. These were all samples for review, and the order is alphabetical.
Despite the name, the grape called Montepulciano has nothing to do with the town of the same name in Toscana, nor does it have any relationship with the wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which comes from Toscana. Rather, Montepulciano, the grape, is cultivated throughout Central Italy, from Le Marche to Apulia and most specifically in Abruzzo. Montepulciano is a varietal that makes a tremendously pleasing wine characterized by low acidity, manageable tannins, and a combination of the roundness of Merlot with the pepper and black fruit of Syrah. Known best for its DOC appellation Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, this varietal is said to have originated in Abruzzo, but it also appears in several other DOC wines throughout central Italy.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC, created in 1968, covers more or less the entire eastern half of its titular province. Despite the similarity in name, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ought not be confused with Toscana’s Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, named for its nearest town, Montepulciano. Indigenous to Abruzzo, Montepulciano grows happily throughout the rugged terrain of central Italy, and the varietal forms the central component of this DOC and that of Le Marche’s Rosso Cònero, as well as serving as a recommended varietal for many others.
This grape possesses an extremely easy-going nature, thriving particularly well around the foothills of the Apennines near the town of Teramo, the site of its DOCG appellation, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane. Although it suffers the reputation of being a little brother to some of the region’s better known wines, the medium-bodied, ruby-red, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo provides a very pleasant wine for a very good value. Lightly tannic but bouncy with acidity, this wine with a palate of berries and violets also has an intriguing spiciness that complements the region’s predilection for foods laced with hot peppers. The slightly sweet tannins of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo keep it lively in the bottle, but unchanged as it ages. Recent interest in playing with techniques in cultivation and vinification, however, may help make the genial Montepulciano d’Abruzzo become a more complex and burly wine in the future.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo comes in four types. Vinified like a white with a short maceration on the skins, Cerasuolo is its rosé style, named for its bright cherry-red color. An unusually jaunty rosé, Cerasuolo can stand up to spicy foods; its DOC regulations allow for 85% Montepulciano and up to 15% of other local varietals, often Sangiovese. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Rosso has the same grape allowances as the Cerasuolo, though it is vinified as a red with a longer maceration; this DOC also comes in a riserva form that requires 24 months of ageing. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo’s Casauria and Terre dei Vestini DOC types both require 100% Montepulciano, and both have riserva forms that require 24 months of ageing.
The best thing about Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo wines–other than their general deliciousness–is that they tend to be super affordable, offering a fresh, easy way to serve quality Italian wines any night of the week.