If ever a wine could be described as a beacon of pure joy, it might just be the rare Lacrima di Morro d’Alba from Le Marche, near central Italy’s Adriatic coast. This dry red’s ambrosial perfume of lavender, roses, and tooth-staining wild berries is completely intoxicating, while its lithe, juicy freshness makes imbibing feel like a divine privilege. Made from the Lacrima grape—presumably named for the teardrop-like shape of its berries—in the gentle hills around the town of Morro d’Alba, near Ancona, this Marche specialty nearly went extinct before being revived by a handful of vignerons in the 1980s. Lucky for us, they salvaged this gem of a variety, which reaches an aromatic expression that, next to any other red wine, feels like stepping into technicolor for the first time: you’ll gaze in awe at brilliant flowers and succulent fruits bursting with sweet nectar; you may even feel something mystical we usually don’t experience in wine. The wizard behind this is Stefano Antonucci, also the author of our crisp bargain Verdicchio. Grown where the Adriatic meets the Apennines, his Lacrima is equally befitting for delicacies of the sea or land. But served chilled, on a sunny day, this luminous red will refresh and enliven regardless of what surrounds it.
There are two theories about the origin of the name of the grape variety called Lacrima, which translates to “teardrop.” The first is that the grape’s shape resembles a teardrop. The second is that its skin breaks easily and the juice seeps like a tear.
The vineyards of Colleleva (Colle “hill”, and si leva, “rises”) lie on the heights of the Marche: about halfway between the Apennine mountains and the coastline of the Adriatic Sea. The combination of eastern sun exposure and the cooling winds from the Adriatic provide an optimal microclimate for balancing ripeness with fresh acidity in the grapes. Verdicchio, also known as Trebbiano di Soave, has been cultivated in the Marche for many centuries. It is capable of making vibrantly fresh and crisp white wines that are a wonderful accompaniment to seafood. The Riserva bottlings can age gracefully. From Colleleva we have a wine in the former camp. During a tasting trip in the Marche, their stainless steel tank vinified Verdicchio was one of the stars among many, many wines tasted. The perfume is entrancing—at once fresh and rounded, and typical of the grape. There is absolutely no pretension.
I want you to realize once and for all: Even the winemaker does not know what aging is going to do to a new vintage; Robert Parker does not know; I do not know. We all make educated (hopefully) guesses about what the future will bring, but guesses they are. And one of the pleasures of a wine cellar is the opportunity it provides for you to witness the evolution of your various selections. Living wines have ups and downs just as people do, periods of glory and dog days, too. If wine did not remind me of real life, I would not care about it so much.
Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol
Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa