Wine Tastings & Tours

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Saturday, 13 April 2013

Trip to Le Marche

The Wine Anarchist went on a wee trip to Le Marche recently.  This wasn't primarily to taste wine, but just to visit some good friends.  Since the region of Le Marche on the central east coast of Italy was the only blind spot on his travels around the Italian mainland (he has yet to visit Sardinia and Sicily and other islands), it seemed imprudent not to take in couple of the vineyards in the area.  He visited the more remote northern half of the region (province of Urbino and Pessaro), whilst the best wines produced are in the south in the province of Ancona.


Now the Wine Anarchists knowledge of the wines of Le Marche was fairly limited before this trip.  He still remembered the Verdicchio di Castelli di Jesi wines of the 1990's in fish-shaped bottles, suggesting they'd go particular well with fish.  In most cases that was only the case if the fish tasted of nothing much either...  He had tasted the odd Rosso Piceno too, which was quite pleasant and discovered that the Verdicchio grape in the right hands has the potential to produce some of the better white wines in Italy.

In his quest to find out more, the Wine Anarchist chose two wineries in striking distance to where he was staying near the Umbrian border, based on recommendations by the Gambero Rosso guide and the 'Guida Ufficiale del Movimento Turismo del Vino'.  Being as he is, he failed to announce his visit to said wineries, which resulted in some disappointment as far as being able to taste the wines on site.

The first visit was in the small village of Barbara to the winery named after if: Santa Barbara:

Winemaker Stefano Antonucci works miracles at this winery, producing wines of real character and power.  It was set up in 1965 on the northern edge of the Verdiccio di Castello Jesi DOC area.  Whilst the area is famous for white wines, this wineries real strength lies in their reds.  Their top of the range is 'Il Maschio da Monte' (the Male of the Mountain'), a Montepulciano matured for 18 months in French barrique and regularly featuring amongst the 3 glass awards of the Gambero Rosso Guide to Italian wines.

Unfortunately when The Wine Anarchis arrived unannounced, they were having a bit of a staff shortage as a the lady normally conducting tastings had called in sick that morning...  So they suggested he should take a little tasting case with him and taste the wines at leasure at home to get an impression of the wines.  So he did, passing on the high price of the Maschio da Monte though at a hefty €35 a bottle.  Now him and his family have finally got around tasting the wines and this was the result:

  • 'Pignocco' Verdiccio di Castelli Jesi DOC 2010
 A light golden colour; honeyed aromas, quite intense with some warm herbal notes, minerals - altogether a mature bouquet; on the palate it is rich and herbal, soft and warn, but not hugely complex and quite short on the finish.  In the opinion of the WA it needs to be drunk up soon, although it is still pleasant enough.  €5.30 (all prices quoted from cellar door)

  • Stefano Antonucci 'Le Vaglie' Verdiccio di Castelli Jesi Classico 2012
 Pale straw with greenish tinge; delicate aroma of apricot stones and some minerally notes; On the palate it shows a decent weight, a lovely creamy texture, a touch of spice and more apricot fruit.  The lively acidity carries this wine through to a long, mouth-watering finish.  €9

  • SensuaDe Rosato Marche IGT NV
 This lush, deep coloured rosé is made from a blend of Lacrima Moro d'Alba, Vernaccia di Pergola and Moscato Rosso.  Now The Wine Anarchist must confess that he hasn't come across the former two grapes either.  The Lacrima... blablabla (bit of a mouthful of a name!), does indeed not as the name might suggest come from Alba in Piemonte, but from the town of Moro d'Alba in Le Marche and is therefore a local variety not much seen away from home.Vernaccia di Pergola is a red variant of the Vernaccia grape of San Gimignano fame, whilst Moscato comes in sort of colours and adds aromatic notes.  As far as the Wine Anarchist is aware, none of those grape varieties are deeply coloured, suggesting quite a lengthy period of skin contact during the fermentation process to produce such a deep pink colour, which could almost count as red in some cooler red wine region. 
The nose on this gorgeous wine reveals overripe peaches and pears as well as pomegranate and dark cherry notes; on the palate there is a slight hint of CO2 freshining up things nicely.  There are oodles of ripe fruit, aromatic rose petal notes, sweet strawberry and a long slightly herbal finish (rosemary was suggested by Conspiracy Cousin).  Whilst displaying sweet fruit it is completely dry with a decent body for a rosé.  After swilling it around the glass for a good while, finally the Moscato shows through too.  A lovely wine that would do very nicely with chicken or braised lamb at cellar temperature.  €8.80

  • 'Pignocco' Marche Rosso IGT 2011
 A blend of Montepulciano, Cabernet, Merlot and Moscato Rosso.  A medium ruby colour; on the nose there's a distinct aroma of blueberries, cinnamon and nutmeg as well as some aromatic notes from the moscato and some forest floor aromas... slightly damp leaf and forest mushroom;  the palate reveals more nutmeg and allspice and a good ripe fruit balanced by some ripe tannins.  It is a well made, medium-bodied wine, which would go very nicely with a dish of wild mushrooms (or a bit of turkey and cauliflower, as we will try it with tonight...) €6.30

  • San Bartolo Marche Rosso IGT 2010
 A single vineyard offering made from Montepulciano, Merlot and Cabernet, matured for 2 years in large oak barrels.  Deep ruby in colour; the nose brings out scents of vanilla and warm herbs such as taragon and mugwort (both part of the artemisia family of course) as well as some more forest floor / fungal notes;  on the palate this wine is full and spicy (chilli was suggested even!) with fairly marked tannins which currently are masking the fruit a bit.  However there is a long mouth-watering finish suggesting a good future.  Good match for some medium rare roast beef! €7.30
  • Stefano Antonucci Marche Rosso IGT 2010
 A blend of Montepulciano, Merlot and Cabernet.  A deep ruby / purple colour;  intense ripe fruit on the nose, plums, cherries, blackberries as well as some smoky spice and sweet herbs; the taste covers every part of the palate with more luscious fruit flavours and simply ripe black grapes (sometimes it almost comes as surprise that wine tastes of grapes!) with perfectly balanced tannins and acidity finishing long and pleasantly.  A stunning wine... I wish now I had bought a bottle of their Il Maschio da Monte too... :(  €12.10

The second winery the Wine Anarchist visited that day was just 5km down the road just outside the village  of Ostra Vetere,

the Azienda Vinicola Bucci

Now they are better known for their excellent white wine, although their reds aren't bad either.  Their Verdicchio di Castelli Jesi has won 3 glass awards in the Gambero Rosso Guide 10 times and won the Best White Wine of the Year Award in 2005.  This winery has been in existence since 1700 or so, so they should know what they are doing.  Unlike Santa Barbara they concentrate their efforts on just 4 wines: a 'basic' white and red and a riserva each.  Since 2002 they have started cultivating their 14 hectares under vine organically, although they are not certified.  All riserva wines are aged in large oak barrels as to not to distract from the real taste of the terroir.  Gambero Rosso claims that their riserva Verdiccio is as close as you will get to the perfect example of this grape.  This time the Wine Anarchist and his wife (and dog) were welcomed warmly for a tasting, although due to the slightly iffy weather conditions a visit to the vineyards was postponed to next time they'd be in the area.

  • Bucci Verdicchio di Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore 2011
 This wine spent 6 months in large barrels, it displays delicate, fresh aromas of white blossoms; on the palate it shows a fine structure and some nice ripe fruit hinting of dried apricots as well as some sweet herbal notes.  The finish is long and pleasant.  €10

  • Villa Bucci Riserva Verdiccio di Castelli di Jesi Classico 2008
 This wine really shows the ageing potential of the Verdiccio grape.  It spent 2 years in large barrels and 2 years in bottle.  Rather than selecting grapes from particular sites for their riserva, the wines from the 5 separate vineyard plots are vinified separately and the best barrels of each year will be used to create this wine.  It displays hugely intense minerally notes, reflecting the calcareous soil it was grown on.  There is a smoky flintyness reminiscent of the best Chablis combined with some ripe apricot fruit.  The palate is full, rich and intense with distinct spicy notes and a huge minerally and steely finish.  Whilst it easily compared to Grand Cru Chablis, the price unfortunately is also similar at €25 ex-cellar door.  Great wine, but maybe a bit on the pricey side.

  • Tenuta Pongelli Rosso Piceno DOC 2010
 50% Montepulciano / 50% Sangiovese, matured for 10 months in large oak (35-40hl). This is a soft wine with ripe fruit-of-the-forest characters.  It has a good concentration and balance, with some tart redcurrant-like fruit.  The finish is long and pleasant.  A good wine, but perhaps not quite worth its €10 price tag.

  • Villa Bucci Rosso Piceno Riserva DOC 2008
 The riserva ismade up of a blend of 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese, which is matured for 2 1/2 years in large oak barrels.  The nose reveals a bouquet of sweet fruit and distinct herbal notes, particularly basil and parsley;  On the palate it is not too full, but with intense and concentrated spice, herbs and sweet fruit flavours, finishing very long.  This wine is still youthfull and will continue to imrove and get more complex for some years to come.  Probably the best value for money from this winery at €20 a bottle. 

I bought a few bottles to re-taste and will update this post with more detailed tasting notes when I get around.

After that exhausting morning of wine tasting we retired for lunch at the excellent trattoria Maria in nearby Mondavio.  It's a little bit of the way, but in his quest to taste some more local flavours, the Wine Anarchist ordered a bottle of 'Ciprea' Offida DOC Pecorino 2010 from Poderi Capecci in San Savino

The Wine Anarchist has had wine from the Pecorino grape before in Abruzzo, but never from this particular DOC.  The colour was deep golden with some green reflections.  On the nose there was a bouquet of overripe pears and some minerally notes.  The palate was full and rich with some sweet fruit flavours, yet finishing long and dry.  A really interesting and different wine that went particularly well with the Gnocchi with a strips of pork and carrot as well as the secondo of sweet and sour pork with onion and courgette.  Another interesting discovery.

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