Marche wine region

Italian Marche Wine Region: A Vintner’s Paradise

The Marche wine region is a paradise between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. It’s also a rich tapestry of vineyards and a vibrant wine culture that has evolved over the centuries.

This distinctive terroir, with its unique combination of climate and terrain, is the birthplace of some of Italy’s most distinctive wines, celebrated by connoisseurs worldwide.

In this article, I’ll let you in on:

Marche Region map
Marche location and provinces (image credit: WikiTravel )

Key Takeaways

  • Verdicchio, a white grape variety, is the star of the Le Marche wine region. It is known for producing a variety of styles, including vibrant sparkling wines, and is a key element in the region’s winemaking identity.
  • The winemaking tradition in Le Marche dates back to ancient times, with recognition by ancient Celts, Etruscans, and later the Romans. Today, modern winemakers continue to build on this rich heritage.
  • Le Marche is home to notable wineries like Villa Bucci, Sartarelli, and Belisario. The region produces a variety of labels, including DOC(G) wines, showcasing the commitment to quality and the diversity of the local wine scene.

Marche Wine Region

Le Marche grape fields panorama
Le Marche grape fields panorama

The Marche wine region, a triangular area surrounded by the stunning Apennine Mountains and the beautiful Adriatic Sea, is an Italian wine lover’s dream. The region offers:

  • Undulating hills and medieval villages
  • An array of vineyards, each with a unique microclimate and soil composition that distinctly influence the terroir
  • A medley of fruity and exquisite wines that are truly exceptional in quality.

The Verdicchio white wine grape variety is the star of the Marche wine region, significantly shaping its identity and standing as a highlight of the region’s viticulture.

Region Overview

Located between the Apennines and the Adriatic Sea, the Le Marche region in central Italy offers a diverse landscape characterized by mountains and hills.

A journey into this wine region uncovers a scenic countryside adorned with medieval villages, olive trees, and expansive vineyards, making it an ideal destination for wine tasting.

The rolling coastal hills surrounding Ancona are a noteworthy characteristic of the Marche landscape. They provide an excellent terroir for producing wines that pair well with dishes featuring meat sauce.

Ancona, a well-known marina with historical significance, has been a trade hub since ancient times, including for table wine.

Fact: In ancient German, “Mark” means “region of border,” and Marche was so-called because the area bordered the Roman Empire. The region was divided by the nobles into la Marca di Fano, la Marca di Camerino and la Marca di Ancona; hence, the name of the region is plural.

-Luca

Wine Production

Wine production in Le Marche, Italy
Tourists overview freshly harvested grapes.

The Marche region, the cradle of Verdicchio, is renowned for its various distinctive wine styles, from dry to sweet to sparkling. These wines are produced from the Verdicchio grape variety, recognized for its ripe fruit flavors and refreshing acidity.

The region’s wine production stands at approximately two million hectoliters a year, with Verdicchio leading the way, producing more than 25 million bottles a year.

With its fresh and fruity flavor, zesty zing, and almond-like aftertaste, this wine has been a favored pairing for fish and seafood dishes since ancient times, endearing it to wine enthusiasts.

Winemaking History

The winemaking tradition in the Marche region dates back to ancient times. The region’s viticultural potential was recognized by ancient Celts and the Etruscans, who were the first to cultivate vines. The Romans later developed this practice, laying the foundation for the region’s modern wine producers.

The region’s most renowned Verdicchio wines are typically produced near the towns of Castelli di Jesi and Matelica, where award-winning wines such as Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva have gained international recognition.

Verdicchio Wine – The Essence of Marche

Verdicchio grapes, freshly harvested
Verdicchio grapes

The jewel in the crown of the Marche region is undoubtedly the Verdicchio wine. With its roots in two geographical zones, Castelli di Jesi on the hills west of Ancona and Matelica near the border of Umbria, the Verdicchio grape variety has carved a niche for itself in the world of Italian wines.

Whether dry, sweet, or sparkling, the variety of styles in which Verdicchio is produced is a testament to the versatility of this grape. The wine’s fresh, fruity flavor, zesty zing, and almond-like aftertaste delight wine lovers and enthusiasts alike.

The three best-known Verdicchio wines are the following:

Wine TypeCharacteristicsAlcohol ContentPairing Suggestions
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi (DOC)Pale yellow, soft fruity aroma, balanced acidity with a bitter aftertaste.11.5% (15% for passito version)Seafood dishes, from tagliatelle with crab to baby octopus salad.
Verdicchio di Matelica (DOC)Deep straw yellow, refined flowery bouquet, dry and nutty with a bitter aftertaste.11.5%“Vincigrassi di Matelica,” spaghetti in black truffles sauce.
Vernaccia di Serrapetrona (DOC)Varies from garnet to ruby red, vinous fruity scent, dry and somewhat sweet taste.11%Stuffed veal roast, rosemary-crusted beef.
Popular Verdicchio wines compared.

Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi (DOC)

Italy’s premier wine to serve with seafood is Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi. The hills surrounding Ancona provide suitable conditions for growing Verdicchio grapes, including a temperate climate, clay soils, and steady ventilation, all contributing to the production of this pale yellow wine with a soft, fruity aroma, and a good balance of acidity, structure, and body, with a bitter aftertaste.

This wine is typically bottled in green glass amphoras and pairs perfectly with all fish entries, from tagliatelle with crab to baby octopus salad.

Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC (photo credit: Cucinato.ca)

Verdicchio di Matelica (DOC)

Verdicchio di Matelica, another notable wine from the Marche region, was the favorite of musician Gioachino Rossini.

This deep, bright, straw yellow wine is made with Verdicchio grapes and can include Malvasia Toscana and Trebbiano Toscano. It exhibits a vinous, fruity scent of remarkable length and a dry, nutty flavor with a bitter aftertaste.

It complements “Vincigrassi di Matelica,” a rich local lasagna or spaghetti in black truffle sauce.

Vernaccia di Serrapetrona (DOC)

The Marche region also produces Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, a naturally sparkling wine made in highly limited amounts.

This wine has a pleasantly varietal, dry, and somewhat sweet taste, with a thin, persistent foam. It pairs well with stuffed veal roast or rosemary-crusted beef, showcasing the versatility of the region’s wines.

Other Famous Marche Wines

Beyond Verdicchio, this Italian wine region produces several other noteworthy wines, each embodying the region’s unique terroir. These include:

  • Bianchello del Metauro, with its delicate, floral fragrance and almondy finish
  • Colli Maceratesi, known for its fresh and fruity character
  • Rosso Conero, with its deep purple color and lively, vinous nose

Let’s briefly take a look at each of these.

other fantastic wines from le marche
photo courtesy of LaVinium (which I recommend checking out!)

Bianchello del Metauro (DOC)

Bianchello del Metauro is a straw yellow wine with a delicate, floral nose and an almondy finish. It is named after the river Metauro and is made with Bianchello and Malvasia Toscana grapes.

This wine complements the regional specialty, sea-bass in black olives sauce well.

Colli Maceratesi (DOC)

Colli Maceratesi is a light straw yellow wine with a pleasant, delicate aroma and a dry, sapid taste. It is named after the town of Macerata, located in a beautiful, peaceful, hilly district on the border with Umbria.

This wine pairs well with all seafood dishes, especially the local delight “Brodetto delle Marche,” mixed seafood soup.

Colli Pesaresi (DOC)

Colli Pesaresi wines offer a unique tasting experience, with five different types of wine falling under this denomination.

These range from the reasonably light ruby Colli Pesaresi Novello, with an intensely fruity aroma and a round, lively, well-balanced taste, to the Colli Pesaresi Focara rosso, which is garnet with purple streaks, has a subtle, vinous nose, and a harmoniously dry, deep flavor – see comparison tale below

Did you know? In the town of Gradara, on the border with Emilia Romagna, there is an ancient castle, where, as the legend says, the tragic passion between Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta blossomed.

-Luca
Wine TypeCharacteristicsAlcohol ContentPairing Suggestions
Colli Pesaresi RossoModerately deep garnet tint, fruity nose and palate with a touch of bitterness.11% – 11.5%Cold cuts, especially hot salami.
Colli Pesaresi NovelloLight ruby color, intense fruity aroma, round and well-balanced taste.11.5%Porcini risotto.
Colli Pesaresi Focara RossoGarnet with purple streaks, subtle vinous nose, harmoniously dry flavor.12%Stuffed pork loin in bread crust.
Colli Pesaresi BiancoDeep straw yellow with green streaks, faint fruity aroma, flavorful and dry taste.11.5%Polenta crostini with porcini and cheese, prosciutto and fontina rolls.
Colli Pesaresi Roncaglia BiancoSimilar to Colli Pesaresi Bianco with slightly higher alcohol.Slightly higher than 11.5%Cream and artichoke pie, fried tomatoes.
Colli Pesaresi SangioveseLight ruby color, fruity nose and palate, touch of bitterness.Not specifiedScampi crespelle, radicchio ravioli.
Different types of Colli Pesaresi wine.

Falerio dei Colli Ascolani (DOC)

Another jewel of the Marche region is Falerio dei Colli Ascolani, a straw-colored wine with a delicate floral nose and a fragrant, dry, acidulous palate.

This wine is named after the “Via Faleria” street in Ascoli Piceno and is best consumed during its first year. It pairs well with fried calamari or fresh cheese.

Lacrima di Morro d’ Alba (DOC)

Lacrima di Morro d’Alba is a dark ruby red wine made with Lacrima grapes. It is one of many exquisite red wines with an intense bouquet of violets and roses.

This wine complements rich pasta dishes like lasagna and “Maccheroni alla Marchigiana,” maccheroni in a creamy sauce with bacon, onion, and celery, well.

Rosso Conero (DOC)

Rosso Conero, produced on the mountain soils of Mount Conero, is the leading red wine of the Marche region. It has a deep purple color, is lively and vinous on the nose with aromas of cherry, blackberry, and blueberry, and is creamy and elegant on the palate.

This aromatic white wine pairs well with wild rabbit dishes and game meats. Its classification highlights its unique qualities among other white wines.

Rosso Piceno (DOC)

The dark red Rosso Piceno, with a rich, fruity nose and a dry, well-balanced palate, is produced in the provinces of Ancona, Macerata, and Ascoli Piceno. It has an alcohol content of 11.5% and pairs well with all kinds of cold cuts, especially hot salami.

Notable Wineries in Le Marche

Sunset celebration in the La Marche, with a glass of quality Verdicchio wine.
Sunset celebration in the La Marche, with a glass of quality Verdicchio wine.

The Marche region is also home to several renowned wineries, each with its unique story and contribution to its wine culture. These include:

Malacari

The reputed Malacari family estate, known for its marina and historical importance, has produced wine since the 17th century. The estate farm is based around Offagna and has been owned by the Malacari family since the 16th century. The farm produces textbook Rosso Conero DOC and Riserva DOCG from 100% Montepulciano.

The winery also provides numerous casual tasting options for walk-in visitors.

Bruscia

The Bruscia family-run business grows indigenous Marche grapes across a 50Ha—estate in the gentle hillsides around Constanzo.

The principal white grape variety is Bianchello, and Sangiovese is the leading red variety. Lesser-known varieties include the white Incrocio Bruni and the ironically named ‘Famoso’.

The winery is technologically advanced, offering various wines, and maintains a highly efficient production process.

Cantina Di Sante

Cantina Di Sante, a family-owned business, was established in 1970 by Natalino Bartolomei and Anna Maria Iobbi. It is located in the Ascoli Piceno area of Marche, around the hilly town of Offida. The vineyard cultivates several varieties, including Bianchello, Sangiovese, and Montepulciano.

Most of the winery’s production is dedicated to a single bottling, allowing one to taste its vibrant sparkling Verdicchio, produced in limited amounts.

Società Agricola Ciù Ciù

Società Agricola Ciù Ciù is a certified organic family winery founded in 1970. It is located in the Ascoli Piceno area of Marche, around Offida.

The winery produces a range of local white varietals, including Verdicchio, Pecorino, and Passerina, and premium reds, including Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Barbera, Merlot, and Cabernet.

Ciù Ciù does not use any animal products during the fining process.

Villa Bucci

Villa Bucci, a historic winery in the Marche region, has practiced organic farming for over 20 years. Ampelio Bucci’s Verdicchio Riserva from his 31 Ha. property is one of Italy’s top white wines.

The wine is produced from the lowest yields and strictest possible grape selection across different vineyard plots and is finished in large Slavonian oak.

Pievalta

Pievalta is a small, family-owned estate. Most of Pievalta’s production goes into a single bottling, offering a taste of its racy sparkling Verdicchio produced in small quantities.

Riccardo Baldi at Pievalta advocates for organic and biodynamic practices, offering visitors an introductory course in biodynamic viticulture.

Sartarelli

Sartarelli, located in Matelica, offers a lesson in the nuances of terroir. Sartarelli’s tasting room offers five styles of Verdicchio; each picked at progressively later ripening times and aged longer on the lees.

Sartarelli’s Salmariano incorporates a small percentage of new barrique and is a testament to Verdicchio’s affinity with oak.

La Staffa

La Staffa is a family-operated winery strongly dedicated to biodynamics and traditional winemaking practices passed down through generations. Riccardo Baldi’s vineyard near the town of Staffolo offers structured wines with pronounced minerality due to the calcium carbonate-rich soil.

Visiting La Staffa allows one to taste its vibrant sparkling Verdicchio, produced in limited quantities.

Marotti Campi

Marotti Campi crafts three Verdicchios, each picked at progressively later ripening times and aged longer on the lees. Ampelio Bucci’s Verdicchio Riserva from his 31 Ha. property is one of Italy’s top white wines and is a testament to Verdicchio’s affinity with oak.

Marotti Campi also produces one of the region’s finest examples of the intensely fragrant and exotic red Lacrima variety.

ColleStefano

In Matelica, small and large wineries co-exist, as exemplified by ColleStefano and Belisario. ColleStefano is a small, family-owned estate practicing organic farming for over 20 years.

Most of ColleStefano’s production is dedicated to a single bottling, providing an opportunity to taste its vibrant sparkling Verdicchio that is produced in limited amounts.

Web: https://www.collestefano.com/en/

Belisario

Belisario is a 100-member cooperative with various labels, including native white grapes such as Passerina and Pecorino. Belisario primarily focuses on Verdicchio. Their top wine, Cambrugiano, was among the first Verdicchios aged in barrique.

Festivals and Culinary Events in Le Marche

July: Montecarotto-Verdicchio in Festa
August: Gradara-National Wine and Olive Oil Show
September: Staffolo-Verdicchio Festival
October: Cupra Montana-Grape-Harvest Festival

Summary

The Marche region isn’t only known for its captivating terroir and the Verdicchio grape (which produces various wines, including sparkling wines). Still, it’s also famous for a rich historical winemaking tradition dating back to ancient times.

Modern winemakers, including notable wineries like Villa Bucci and Sartarelli, continue to build on this heritage. The high-quality wines produced here make Marche an increasingly acknowledged player in the Italian wine space.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *