Le Marche (lay mar-kay) is referred to as Italy’s hidden gem and the next Tuscany. Located east of Tuscany and Umbria, on the other side of the Apennines Mountains, Le Marche’s entire eastern border is on the Adriatic Sea, lined with magnificent beaches. In addition to the mountains and coastline, Le Marche is a top wine region. Discover this lesser-known but growing region as I taste my way through a sampling of Le Marche wines from Velenosi Wines.
Disclosure: I received these wine samples as part of the virtual 2020 Wine Media conference. All opinions are my own.
Fast Facts About Le Marche’s Wine Region
There are 60,000 acres of vineyards.
The region has warm and cool viticultural zones, a Mediterranean climate with warmer temperatures by the Adriatic Sea, and a Continental climate closer to the mountains with cold and often snowy winters.
Soils are predominately calcareous, clay, and limestone.
There are 5 DOCGs and 15 DOCs – (see the map and list below).
The region is known for its white wines, most notably Verdicchio; Verdicchio del Castelli di Jesi and Verdicchio di Matelica. Other white varieties include; Bianchello del Metauro made from Bianchello (also known as Biancame), Pinot Blanc, Malvasia Toscano, Pecorino, and Trebbiano.
Red wines are dominated by Montepulciano and Sangiovese blends; Rosso Cònero, and other red varieties including Ciliegiolo, Pinot Nero, Lacrima di Morro, and Vernaccia Nera used to produce the sparkling DOCG Vernaccia di Serrapetrona.
“Wine is an art capable of making you dream.” – Angela Velenosi
Angela Velenosi had a big dream. In 1984, at the age of just 20 years old, she founded Velenois Wines with just over 22 acres of land, producing two wines. She had little capital and no experience, just a dream with lots of passion, determination, and energy. Today, the estate includes 366 acres, produces 2.5 million bottles of wine annually, exports to 48 markets, and produces more than 20 wines. Wine Spectator named Velenosi top 100 wineries in Italy, and Decanter magazine voted Velenosi winemaker Attilio Pagli one of the best 30 winemakers in the world.
My Tasting and Food Pairing Notes
2019 Velenosi Verdicchio Querciantica, Dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico
13% abv | $15.99 wine.com | 100% Verdicchio
The vineyards are located in the native and oldest areas of Castelli di Jesi. Vineyards are planted at 100 meters altitude with medium-textured soils leaning toward sandy. The grapes were hand-picked, followed by a soft crushing, settling of the must, and fermentation under controlled low temperatures, to maximize the wine’s aromatics. The wine was aged in stainless steel.
Pale straw in color. Aromas of citrus, apple, white peaches, orange blossom, and minerals. On the palate, dry with medium body, medium (+) acidity, and medium alcohol. Flavors of citrus, apples, white peaches, herbs, and minerals. Medium finish.
Food Pairings: Known as the Chablis of Italy, this wine pairs well with oysters, vegetables and seafood. I paired the Verdicchio with a Shrimp Risotto. (recipe below)
2018 Velenosi Querciantica LaCrima di Morro d’ Alba DOC
12.5% abv | $16.99 wine.com | 100% Lacrima di Morro d’ Alba
Lacrima di Morro is a native Le Marche grape variety gaining in popularity. Lacrima means “tear” in Italian – the delicate thin skin of the grape breaks when ripe, and a “tear” of juice drops – referred to as the red Gewürztraminer for its high aromatics. The vineyards are located in the San Marcello-Ancona district at 100-150 meters high on mostly clay soils. The juice is fermented in stainless steel small tanks at controlled temperatures. Skin maceration lasts for 20 days with virtually daily closed pump overs to preserve the wine’s fruity and floral aromatics.
Pale ruby in color. Aromas of violets, potpourri, pink pepper, cherries, blueberries, and cinnamon. On the palate, dry with medium body, medium(-) tannins, and acidity, and medium alcohol. Flavors of ripe cherries, spices, and floral notes. A smooth lush aromatic wine with a lingering finish.
Food Pairings: Pairs well with Asian foods, teriyaki sauce, and BBQ sauce. Not a good match for fried foods because of the lower acidity and tannins.
2017 Velenosi Brecciarolo Rosso Piceno DOC Superiore
13.5% abv | $18.99 wine.com | 70% Montepuliciano and 30% Sangiovese
Brecciarolo is the name of the hill where the winery was built. It was one of the first two wines Velenosi produced. The vineyards are located in the Offida and Ascoli Piceno districts at 200-300 meters high on clay and limestone soils. The two grape varieties are aged separately for 10-12 months in gently used oak barriques before they are blended.
Pale ruby in color. Aromas of raspberry, cherry, violet, and anise. On the palate, medium (+) body, tannins, acidity, and alcohol. Flavors of cherries and vanilla. Nicely balanced and easy drinking wine.
Food Pairing: This wine makes a great pairing with pizza, tomato pasta dishes and grilled meats.
2015 Velenosi Roggio del Filaré Rosso Piceno Superiore
14.5% abv | $54.99 wine.com | 70% Montepuliciano and 30% Sangiovese
Roggio del Filaré is Velenosi’s flagship wine, the big brother to Brecciarolo. The grapes come from low yielding 50-year-old vines located at 200 meters high on clay and limestone soils. The grapes are handpicked. Fermentation takes place in small temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Skin maceration lasts for about 28 days, followed by aging for 18 months in new oak barriques.
Medium ruby in color. Aromas of ripe plum, earth, and toast. On the palate, dry with a bold body, high tannins, medium (+) acidity and medium (+) alcohol. On the palate, dry with flavors of dark cherries and plums. Velvety mouthfeel with a long lingering finish.
Food Pairing: Pair this wine with slow meat braises, stews, roasts, and hard stronger, aged cheeses.
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive
- 1/4 cup shallot, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 1 lb large shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 4-5 cups fish or vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup dry white wine, preferably Verdicchio
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1-1/3 cups risotto rice, high quality
- 1/4 cup herbs such as parsley, chives, tarragon or basil, chopped
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dry the shrimp thoroughly with paper towels. Place the shrimp on the baking sheet and drizzle them with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and a few grindings of black pepper. Toss them and spread them out into a single layer. Roast for 10 minutes, or until firm and just cooked through. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, warm the fish or vegetable stock. Keep warm.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender and slightly golden, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the garlic clove.
Increase the heat to medium-high and add the rice and sauté, stirring until it turns opaque and makes a faint popping sound, about 1-2 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until it is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste with a half cup of the warm stock. Once the tomato paste is well mixed, start adding a cupful of the warm stock at a time, stirring until it has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock, a cup at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed. After the third addition of stock add the cooked shrimp, mixing them into the rice. Continue adding stock as needed until the rice is just cooked through and the shrimp are warm.
Remove the risotto from the heat and gently stir in the tablespoon of butter and herbs. Taste for season or salt and pepper.