“Marche is Italy’s secret treasure.”
Marche(pronounced Mar-Kay) is unique wine region on the eastern side of Italy. A region most known for making luxurious Italian shoes, is also a region producing fascinating wines.
Marche – The Region & Terroir
Located in the central part of Italy, its neighbors are the more illustrious Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, and Abruzzo. Marche is characterized by mountainous and hilly terrain . The wines are exceptional because they have high elevation, slow maturation, and a wide diurnal range, all factors that contribute to complex and elegant wines.
Marche is very hilly and thus the soils are mostly stony. In France they say to make great wines, the vines have to suffer. The vines of Marche struggle to get water because the soils are made of stones, hence water goes straight down. The roots have to go deep to get water and thus the vines develop long roots. These deep roots provide minerality to the wonderfully complex wines of Marche.
Italy produces approximately 50 million hectolitres of wine each year. Veneto makes 7 million, Tuscany makes 4 million, but Marche produces only 1 million (actual production of Marche is only 0.9 million). Marche is a region of small production and low yields yet they are making some of the most famous and high quality wines of Italy.
Angela Velenosi is the woman and power behind Velenosi Wines. In 1984 Angela started the winery from scratch, with just 9 hectares of land. Her story is one of passion, energy, dedication and determination. She had no experience and no equipment for winemaking, just a burning desire to make wine. 30 years later her portfolio of wines represent diverse terroirs with the most important grape varietals of the region. Angela Velenosi has been credited to bringing global recognition to the wines of Marche.
Today Velenosi is the second biggest winery in Marche and considered to be one of the best wineries in Italy. You don’t have to take my word for it, many around the world praise Velenosi wines. Wine Spectator has named Velenosi as one of the top 100 wineries of Italy and their winemaker, Attilio Pagli has been voted as one of the best 30 winemakers in the world by Decanter Magazine. The wines of Velenosi are terroir driven wines that have won accolades and awards from around the globe. Velenosi wines can be appreciate by a wide audience of wine lovers and offer excellent value for the quality of wines they produce.
I recently had the opportunity to taste some of the wines from the Velenosi portfolio during a media lunch at Osteria Morini in New York City. The afternoon was a quick journey to Marche through an incredible afternoon of wine and food. One of the reasons that wine is such a passion of mine, is that it transports you to a wonderful new place in a matter of minutes. Osteria Morini has the feel of a local Italian restaurant, one that you would find in Marche. The Velenosi wines bought such a sense of typicity and terroir which were paired perfectly with the authentic Italian dishes of Osteria Morini. I felt I had traveled to Marche and back in just a few wonderful and memorable couple of hours.
Passarina is an indigenous grape varietal to Marche. It is a fresh grape with high acidity, making it perfect for sparkling wine. This bubbly is fresh and crisp with nice acidity. The bubbles are very fine and elegant in the mouth. This wine is best appreciated at the beginning of a meal as an aperitif or paired with light appetizers. Passerina Brut is a lovely wine in a sexy bottle that is great to share with friends. A wonderful way to begin a memorable evening.
Villa Angela Offida DOCG Pecorino
Pecorino is an easy wine. It has a long mouthfeel that is juicy and fruity with hints of pear and peach. The appellation for this wine is DOCG Pecorino. This is the highest classification of wine in Italy(table wine, then IGT, then DOC, followed by the highest level DOCG). It is a clean wine that is expressive of the terroir of Marche.
Lacrima in Italian means “tear”. The skin of the grape is so delicate that it pops when ripe and a drop of juice falls, evoking a tear on the grape. Lacrima is a very particular grape only grown in Marche. The varietal is highly aromatic and often times in blind tastings the aromatics can confuse the drinker to believe it is white wine. The wine is expressive of violets and rose. Lacrima is growing in popularity, especially in Asia as it pairs well with spicy Asian food. Velenosi is the first to bottle this as a single varietal. Lacrima is a great conversation wine with a fun story and a completely unique flavor profile. The wine has a wonderfully intense flowery perfume, with notes of violets, rose, and gardenia. It’s tannins are vevelty on the palate with bursts of floral, fruit and spice on the finish.
Ludi Offida DOCG Rosso
This wine was my favorite from the Velenosi portfolio. It is ripe and silky with lots of black fruit. This award winning wine is named Ludi which comes from the Latin word, Ludus. It means play, to emphasize the strong bond between wine, joy, pleasure and fun. This wine also has a beautiful label which symbolizes the joy of dancers. The dancers are headless, to emphasis that we all think too much and wine is meant to be enjoyed regardless of the brands or labels. If you love big California wines, you will truly enjoy the Ludi, which is a blend of 85% Montepulciano, 7.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7.5% Merlot.
Roggio del Filare Rosso Piceno DOC Superiore
Roggio is an award winning wine, made with 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese. Compared to Ludi this is slightly more refined and elegant, yet has a full body and strong aromatics. This wine is a great expression of the terroir of Marche and has been awarded “Italian Red Wine Trophy” by Tre Bicchieri for 13 years in a row. It has an elegant nose with hints of blackberries, and a velvety full body.
Visciole is a cherry wine made with 70% Lacrima and 30% wild cherry syrup(Visciole). It is a luscious sweet wine. A perfect wine to end a meal. Visciole Selezione is great on its own or can be paired with chocolate, dry pastry cakes, foie gras or cheeses. Local farmers all produce this type of wines which they serve with cake. This is a really special wine made in limited production and is an artisanal product. It is a fun festive wine, especially when served with a splash of the Passerina Brut.
The wines of Velenosi truly represent the personality of Marche. Andrea Velenosi has persevered and pushed the boundaries to elevate the region. The wines represent the region, the terroir and the climate of Marche. Velenosi wines are beautiful wines that need to be tried, tasted and explored.