Verdicchio is rarely considered more than a simple thirst-quencher, but thanks to the young, ambitious team that is La Marca di San Michele, such stereotypes can be all but forgotten. Their recipe for success—organic farming, natural vinification and aging in enormous oak casks with malolactic fermentation, and unfiltered bottling—yields a wine that does indeed provide vivacious refreshment, but also delivers ample layers of flavor and refined texture. Suggestions of pine nuts, hay, and spring flowers lead to an ultra-precise, stony finale recalling the ancient seabed the vines call home, in the shadow of the Apennines and within view of the Adriatic Sea. Tuck a few bottles away for six to eight more years, or serve immediately with a local specialty: porchetta.
La Marca di San Michele in Cupramontana is run by the sibling team of Alessandro Bonci, Beatrice Bonci, and Daniela Quaresima. They are light years ahead of most of their neighbors in growing their six hectares of Verdicchio vines entirely organically, vinifying with minimal sulfur, and bottling unfiltered. Cupramontana is the birthplace of Verdicchio production in Le Marche–the region’s first vineyards were registered in 1471. La Marca refers to a “border district.” All of these territories were united to form the region of “Le Marche,” the only Italian region that takes the plural. The dynamic young leadership of La Marca is producing wines that will inspire your senses and transport you to this breathtaking land.
Le Marche’s reputation as a producer of fine wine is relatively recent, as the region is very much off the beaten path for tourists and tasters alike. And yet, early Etrsucan and Roman civilizations grew grapes here, a tradition that persists and continues to gain momentum in this undulating land where the Apennines descend to the Adriatic.
In between the warm coastline and the cool, rugged mountainous border with Umbria lies a landscape of calcareous rolling hills that provide ideal conditions for viticulture. The zingy, green-tinged, citrus- and pine-scented Verdicchio is king here, producing delightfully crisp whites that perfectly complement the fresh fish and seafood stews of the Adriatic, in addition to the pork-based dishes that are staples inland. Around the towns of Jesi and Matelica, the grape takes on an additional dimension and is even capable of significant aging under the right conditions.
While our involvement in the region is recent, the two producers we represent demonstrate that Le Marche is capable of producing whites of serious interest, which often come at great value.
When buying red Burgundy, I think we should remember:
1. Big wines do not age better than light wine. 2. A so-called great vintage at the outset does not guarantee a great vintage for the duration. 3. A so-called off vintage at the outset does not mean the wines do not have a brilliant future ahead of them. 4. Red Burgundy should not taste like Guigal Côte-Rôtie, even if most wine writers wish it would. 5. Don’t follow leaders; watch yer parking meters.
Inspiring Thirst, page 174
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