Italian Wine Regions - Quattrocalici
Table of Contents for the Marche Region
The Marche Wine Region
Main Article Contents
- 1 Territory and wine of Marche
- 2 The history of wine in Marche
- 3 The viticulture of the Marche region
- 4 The grape varieties of Marche
- 5 The wine production areas in Marche
- 6 The Appellations of Origin in Marche
- 7 The regional cuisine of Marche
Territory and wine of Marche
Le Marche is a very diversified region, hilly for 70% and 30% mountainous. The flat surfaces are limited to small areas along the coast and the rivers. The climate of the Marche is also very varied, depending on the configuration and the altitude of the soil. The weather is the typical Mediterranean one along the coast and to the south, and more continental with major temperature fluctuations and greater risk of frost to the north.
The history of wine in Marche
The origins of viticulture in Marche dates back to the Etruscan period, between the tenth and the eighth century BC, when Pliny the Elder wrote about the wines of Marche in his important work Naturalis Historia, bringing direct evidence of regional viticulture in Roman times. The viticulture and the production of wine were widespread in Marche around 1200s, with various edicts and written records. In early 1800s, the agriculture of the Marches was mainly characterized by the cultivation of cereals and viticulture had also a major role. In years 1900s the wine area of Piceno was the most important of the region, with the grapes Sangiovese and Montepulciano, while the northern part of the region was focused on the production of white wines from grapes Verdicchio, Trebbiano and Malvasia. In 1953 the winery Fazi Battaglia created the famous jar-shaped bottle still today associated to Verdicchio wine.
The viticulture of the Marche region
Its climatic profile makes Marche an ideal region for viticulture. Its 19,000 hectares of vines with a production of more than one million hectoliters of wine per year are almost totally in hilly areas . The traditional form of vine training as small trees or pergolas tend to disappear for more modern espalier training methods.
The grape varieties of Marche
The varieties grown in the Marche area are for 60% white grapes (mostly Verdicchio). Verdicchio is among the most interesting native white grapes of Italy, capable of giving complex wines with great structure. Among the black berry vines the most important are the Montepulciano and Sangiovese. In Marche there are also indigenous grape varieties such as Lacrima and Vernaccia nera. In the region also Chardonnay, Ciliegiolo, Passerina, Pecorino, Trebbiano toscano and Malvasia bianca lunga are widely grown.
The wine production areas in Marche
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and Matelica
Verdicchio is surely the most famous grape of Marche, the absolute protagonist of the areas of the Castelli di Jesi and Matelica. The Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC is the most classic zone, i.e. the most typical and traditional. Its Riserva style and the Verdicchio di Matelica‘s one bear the title of DOCG appellations. The Verdicchio is an extremely versatile vine. In addition to the production of dry wines it is also used for sweet and sparkling wines. Depending on the vinification style the characteristics of Verdicchio wines are quite varied, from light and fresh ones, up to robust and structured, also suitable for cask aging.
Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno
Red wine means in Marche above all Montepulciano and Sangiovese wines. The Rosso Conero obtained in 2004 the DOCG appellation (Conero DOCG). The Conero Red wines benefit from the influence of sea breezes, which together with the calcareous soil composition allows to get this unique red wine. The Rosso Piceno is produced further south in a fairly large area that reaches the borders of the Pesaro province. The Montepulciano must be at least 85% in both wines.
Vernaccia di Serrapetrona
The Vernaccia nera vine in Serrapetrona (province of Macerata) represents a total surface of 45 hectares in vineyards. Although recently rediscovered, this wine was the first in Marche to get the DOCG (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin) appellation. The Vernaccia di Serrapetrona is a sparkling red wine, produced in both dry and sweet styles, using a system special procedure. After the harvest, part of the grapes are fermented in red, while another part is let to wither in order to concentrate the amount of sugar. Dried grapes are then crushed and the juice is added to the first wine, starting a second fermentation. The sparkling Vernaccia di Serrapetrona Charmat wine has a characteristiccharacteristic pink foam and unmistakable aromas.
Other Production Areas in Marche
A special mention must be the Lacrima di Morro d’Alba wines, an aromatic red wine with an aromatic with an unmistakable smell. It is produces as still or fizzy wine, both in sweet or and dry versions. The Bianchello del Metauro comes from the province of Pesaro and it’s produced with Bianchello (or Biancame ) vines. The Falerio dei Colli Ascolani is mainly based on grapes Trebbiano, Passerina and Pecorino. In areas of Offida and Esino white, red and sparkling wines are produced. Among whites ones, particularly interesting are those produced with Pecorino and Passerina varieties. The white wines of Colline Maceratesi (hills) are produced from Maceratino vine.
The Appellations of Origin in Marche
The wine region of Marche may be divided into 7 fairly homogeneous zones. From north to south, the first zone we encounter is the Metauro (Biancame vine, Bianchello Metauro DOC appellation) and Colli Pesaresi DOC with Bianchello and Sangiovese vines. The area of Castelli di Jesi is famous for Verdicchio (Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC and Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva DOCG), as well as the area of Matelica and Alta Val Camerina. The coastal area around the Conero promontory is mostly devoted to red wines made from Montepulciano vine (Conero DOCG). The appennine area of Serrapetrona area is known for the sparkling wines based on the vine Vernaccia nera (Vernaccia di Serrapetrona DOCG). Further down, the area of Macerata (Colli Maceratesi DOC) with wine wine made with Maceratino grapes (clone of Verdicchio). The Colli del Tronto and Colli Ascolani are known for Rosso Piceno DOC wines (varietal Montepulciano) and Falerio DOC (grapes from Trebbiano Toscano, Passerina and Pecorino). Totally the region includes 5 DOCG, 15 DOC and one IGT (Marche IGT) and 4 DOP and 2 PGI as of typical food products appellations.
The regional cuisine of Marche
Marche is a region dominated by mountains and facing the sea. Therefore its typical cuisine is very varied and alternates recipes with strong flavors, typical of the mountain areas, with meals based on shellfish, blue fish and seafood, typical of the famous Riviera del Conero. Not to be forgotten the famous stuffed olives (Olive Ascolane).
The starters of the Marche cuisine
The classic lunch on the Marche coast starts usually with the famous fish soup (brodetto), of which there are several versions: all’Anconetana, based on thirteen different fishes, and the one from Porto Recanati, with the fish cooked in a special sauce made with saffron. The soup is often served with the tasty fish pancakes, wraps made with flour and eggs and fried in olive oil. In the interior area the typical tasty starters based on whites or blacks truffles, often accompanied by fragrant and delicious mushrooms.
Typical recipes from Marche
Among the popular dishes are the ‘surf and turf‘ ones, those in which the flavors and aromas typical of the mountain combine with those from the sea. An example are the Spaghetti Mari e Monti (mountains and the sea spaghetti), made with squid and mushrooms and monkfish with roast pork. Other typical pasta dishes are the Lasagne all’ascolana, with white truffles, the Cappelletti (ravioli) cooked in capon broth, the noodles with squid and molecche (lobster soft shell tails ), the chickpea and pork soup and the classic tagliatelle with white truffles.
The main course of Marche cuisine
Typical dishes of the coastal areas are the codfish alla Marchigiana, with tomato sauce, the sardines from Ancona, breaded and baked, the codfish in white, with green sauce made of parsley and stewed codfish with potatoes, or in potacchio, braised with tomatoes, anchovies, garlic, rosemary, parsley, and pepper. Among the mountain recipes costarella polenta with sausages, the chickpea and pork soup, the eggs fried in butter and sprinkled with truffle and the salad of mushrooms and truffles.
The desserts of Marche
The Marche cuisine offers many extremely interesting regional recipes for desserts. We remember the castagnole, sweet ball dough fried in oil and lard and sprinkled with powdered sugar, the beccute, loaves of bread cake made of flour and decorated with pine nuts and raisins, the caciuni, ravioli of bread pasta filled with sheep cheese, eggs, sugar, and lemon peel, the must ciambelle, made with flour, aniseed, oil, sugar and freshly squeezed grape juice, and the cicerchiata, typical carnival cookies, almost similar to the most famous Neapolitan struffoli.