Le Marche is best known for its whites, and Verdicchio is the flagship variety. Michaela Morris picks some of the top wineries to visit in the region...
Le Marche wineries to visit
How to get there: The town of Jesi is 15km from the Marche airport (Ancona Falconara) and a half hour drive from the city of Ancona.
Castelli di Jesi is the Verdicchio that sees the sea, while Matelica is the Verdicchio of the mountains. Both zones are well worth discovering…
For a lesson in the nuances of terroir, head to Pievalta. Here you can compare Verdicchio from the clay and limestone soil of Maiolati Spontini commune with those of the granitic sandstone of San Paolo di Jesi. Winemaker Alessandro Fenino takes willing guests into the vineyards for a crash-course in biodynamic viticulture. Wine shop open: Monday to Friday 9.00 – 12.00, 15.00 – 18.00. Tours available but book first. +39 0731 705199
The tasting room at Sartarelli doubles as a museum, giving a useful primer of the Jesi area while offering five styles of Verdicchio, from a charmat-method bubbly to a sweet passito. Wine shop open: Monday – Friday 08.00 – 12.30 / 14.00 – 19.00, Saturday 08.00 – 13.00. Tours available, contact in advance. +39 0731 89732
Another proponent of organics and biodynamics is rising star Riccardo Baldi at La Staffa. His vineyard is near the town of Staffolo, where the calcium carbonate-rich soil gives structured wines with pronounced minerality. For something completely different, ask to try his Verdicchio ‘pét-nat’ lightly sparkling wine.
At Marotti Campi, the comparison is of a different nature. The estate crafts three Verdicchios, each picked at progressively later ripening times and aged longer on the lees. Salmariano incorporates a small percentage of new barrique and is a testament to Verdicchio’s affinity with oak. Marotti Campi also makes one of the region’s best examples of the intensely perfumed, exotically aromatic red Lacrima variety. Contact in advance, firstname.lastname@example.org+39 0731 618027
No tour of Castelli di Jesi is complete without a visit to Villa Bucci. This well-established estate is a reference for the ageing potential of Verdicchio. Examples as old as 25 years are still fresh and fascinating. The delightful Ampelio Bucci may offer a cask tasting as well, challenging you to make your own blend and rating your winemaking prowess. Contact here.
In Matelica, the co-existence of small and large wineries that defines Le Marche is illustrated by ColleStefano and Belisario. At one extreme, ColleStefano is a tiny family-owned estate that has been farming organically for over 20 years. Most of the production goes into a single bottling, but a visit here will give you a taste of its racy sparkling Verdicchio made in tiny quantities. Contact here.
At the other end of the spectrum, Belisario is a 100-member cooperative with a dizzying array of labels, including other native whites grapes such as Passerina and Pecorino. Verdicchio, however, is still very much the focus. Cambrugiano is its top wine and was one of the very first Verdicchio to be aged in barrique. Contact here.