Ever been in the Marche Italian zone? Wonderful region, which is now pushing to become better known to the rest of the world. It’s all along Tuscany’s eastern border. It’s been there forever. Really.
Well, I’ve been there many times recently because of my job. My perfect holiday in Sirolo one day will become true, in the meantime, I settle for a glass of good Rosso Piceno DOP from my friend and customer Christian, owner of Ortenzi Organic Winery. I bet that wine will soon show off international markets (as well as San Severo DOP, actually).
So, I drive to Fermo, towards Tipicità (Italian word for typicality) a pretty little fair, where to display and approach every sort of seducing goodness made in that area. I had never tried, for example, the Vernaccia Nera (Black Vernaccia) wine variety.
Christian’s neighbour eyes light up, while he brings up a bottle of his “Sommo” (“the greatest” in English) a Passito Marche Rosso IGT (dried grapes made wine). He makes me try it and I couldn’t agree more with that passionate devotion. Passito red wines are at their best, now that Italian wineries must diversify to maintain their position. This was from Terre di Serrapetrona, wine makers in one of the countries where the exclusive DOCG stands.
The good thing with Vernaccia Nera is that it’s very versatile: from dried grapes to spumante it’s impossible not to drink what it springs. As a matter of fact, an entire pavilion of Tipicità Fair was committed to sparkling wines from Marche and that’s where I got something which had me completely crazy: Fontezoppa and their Cuvee Rosé. Manual harvest, off-the-skins vinification, second fermentation in bottle, Classic Method with lees contact for at least eighteen months. A sincere perlage, onionskin coloured, perfect equilibrium, explosive freshness in mouth, although in Extra Brut version… I can’t help myself.
The second great experience I had was with Alberto Quacquarini and their Vernaccia di Serrapetrona DOCG, a red sparkling wine made by a three-times-fermentation process, in which dried grapes’ must is mixed with the latest pressing must and refermented. I’ve tasted it both sweet and dry: perfect expression, in my opinion, of the typical vinous grapes essence: well-orchestrated, medium-bodied, slightly bitter in the finish.
Most people know other typical Marche wines like Pecorino and Passerina but this was the time you could meet something very special, which is nowadays grown in less than one hundred hectares of land. And I also need to tell about another local delicacy that you can probably taste only in small and regional events: the Ciauscolo, a creamy salami made from slice thinly pork loin, spreadable, well known by marchigiani (people from Marche) but not that much outside Italy. Try and get lost into it.
Indeed, I guess now it’s up to you to go through the rest of Marche experience, as long as you like to be deliciously surprised by just another Italy’s shade you can expect to discover.