Garnering accolades, such as the Best White Wine in the World, Le Marche’s wine production has not gone unnoticed by vinophiles. Bordered by 5 regions (Tuscany, Umbria, Abruzzo, Emilia-Romagna, and Lazio), Le Marche’s culinary identity is one that draws similarities from its neighbors while offering a one-of-a-kind food and wine scene that is cooking up some of the best quality-to-price ratio wines in the entire country. For food and wine lovers in search of going deeper and getting to taste a variety of the best wines Italy has to offer, it’s a no-brainer to put Le Marche on your bucket-list.
Being one of Italy’s best kept secrets, this region may be completely new to you, so that’s why we’ve put together these essential tips for you to get to know the best wines in the Le Marche region of Italy.
Le Marche Wine: As Unique As Its Landscape
With the majority of Le Marche’s population living on the coast, within 5 kilometers of the Adriatic Sea, it’s landscape offers an array of unique microclimates that have conjured up of plethora of wines and allowed each producer to make wines that are not only specific to the grapes grown, but to the winemakers themselves. Over centuries, Le Marche’s hilly landscape has been attributed to the emphasis on small production, rather than the vast estates found in the regions of Tuscany and Veneto. Even some of the largest wine producers in the area are not a single estate. Instead, they gather grapes from a variety of local farmers or parcels of land that are dispersed across the region. Some of these types of wine makers are considered co-ops, where each farmer acts like a shareholder in the company.
However, not all co-ops are created alike. That’s why it’s important to support only those that give the farmers the best value for their grapes. A type of co-op which encourages a culture of producing quality over quantity. It is this ethos which extends to our tours and why we only take you to local producers that have the same mindset. Values which transcends beyond wine and to the local food scene which includes truffles, seafood, top pasta producers and numerous tradition dishes like the famous olive all’ascolana that pairs perfectly with one of Southern Le Marche’s local white wines called Passerina, made from the indigenous Passerina grape.
Passerina grapes are just one of the many indigenous white grape varieties unique to Le Marche. With numerous vineyards in close proximity to the Adriatic Sea, the temperate climate in the area makes it the ideal location to grow grapes used in the local white Italian wine production which includes Verdicchio, Trebbiano, Malvasia, Pecorino and Bianchello. The local reds of Sangiovese, Lacrima and Montepulciano grapes thrive in the warmer microclimates of the region, making Le Marche the perfect destination for wine makers to produce world-class white and red wines.
Classification of Wine from Le Marche, Italy
Classification of Wine in Le Marche follows the standard DOC and DOCG rules that traverse the entire country of Italy. But in case you need a refresher or are new to the Italian wine scene, here’s the basics of what you need to know about the classification of Italian wines.
Italy’s wine classification structure has been around since 1963 and is called the DOC (denominazione di origine controllata) system.
Within this classification there are four distinct levels:
- Vino da Tavola (VdT) – Table wine, the lowest classification. While wines within this group can still be relatively high quality and are made from Italy-sourced grapes, they do not have the honor of distinction within the DOC system, nor do they meet the DOC’s rigorous standards.
- Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) – Wines sourced from a specific region of Italy with varying quality levels. While many IGT wines are still incredibly high-quality and delicious, they do not fall within the DOC guidelines and are not grown within the DOC geographic regions.
- Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) – The second-to-highest tier of Italian wine, this wine classification is only given to wineries that meet specific exacting standards to qualify, such as harvest yields and wine age and location requirements.
- Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) – The DOCG classification denotes the highest high-quality wines throughout Italy. These wines are the best of the best, and the DOCG classification is exceptionally hard to achieve. There are only 74 varieties of wine throughout all of Italy that have this special distinction.
Types of Top Wines to Try in Le Marche
One of leaders in the production of organic and natural wines, in respect to the percentage of grapes produced in Le Marche, Italy, this region of Central Italy produces 15 DOC classifications of wine and five of the 74 DOCG varieties. By many, the Italian wines that fall under these classifications are considered the best wines in Le Marche and we’ve rounded up our top choices below:
Rosso Piceno Superiore – Easily one of Italy’s most famous dry red wines, the Rosso Piceno Superiore is produced in the Ancona, Ascoli Piceno, Fermo, and Macerata provinces. Rosso Piceno Superiore has the DOC classification and must be aged at least one year in wooden casks before it can be sold.
Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva – One of Le Marche’s five DOCG wines, which is produced at a local winery that will be your home base when you join us on Italy Uncorked, the Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva hails from the interior parts of the provinces of Ancona and Macerata. This delicate, dry white wine is known for its subtle honey notes and pairs wonderfully with goat cheese and is often served with a variety of the local seafood dishes you’ll taste on your trip to Le Marche, Italy.
Lacrima di Morro d’Alba – Produced by just a handful of winemakers in Le Marche, Lacrima di Morro d’Alba is made from red, tear-shaped grapes. One of the Best wines from Le Marche, it has been DOC-classified since 1985 but was considered a beloved regional favorite long before it became part of the denominazione di origine controllata. The Lacrima grape is rare and the DOC wine region is only found in a tiny area outside Morro d’Alba. Although you’ll find Lacrima grapes grown throughout Le Marche, it cannot be designated DOC outside of the designated area.
Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Riserva – This top wine from Le Marche was Designated in 2020 by the Wine Enthusiast as the Best White Wine in the World. Making it one of the most highly sought after DOCG wines in Le Marche, the Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Riserva wine is made from Verdicchio white grapes. In order to receive the DOCG designation, this wine must contain a minimum of 85% Verdicchio grapes by volume and must undergo a minimum vinification of 18 months before it is available for purchase. Not far from the Adriatic Coast, the Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Riserva is the preferred pairing of many local restaurateurs for fish, seafood dishes and white meat like rabbit.
Looking for more info on Verdicchio? Click here!
Offida Pecorino – Often touted as a red dressed in white, Pecorino is one of Le Marche’s most versatile DOCG wines. An intense, dry white wine with a fruity, flowery flavor profile, complete with notes of acacia, lime, apricot, and banana. It’s a structured white that you can even serve with meat or age for a special occasion. Want to learn more about Pecorino wine? Check out our guide to Pecorino wine!
Offida Rosso – Named after One of Italy’s Most Beautiful Villages (that you can visit on select tours), Offida, this full-bodied red wine frequently enjoyed by our tour guests is made with at least 85% Montepulciano D’Abruzzo grapes, earning it the DOCG classification. It is aged for at least two years before being released on the market, spending half that time aging in a wooden cask before being transferred to the bottle. Offida Rosso is best enjoyed with meals featuring robust flavors of red meat, pasta with a hearty ragu or a bold aged slice of pecorino cheese.
Passerina Spumante – This highly-acclaimed DOCG white wine is produced in both still and bubbly varieties, the latter called Passerina Spumante and is often served with the famous Olive Ascolane which you can learn to make on select tours. Composed of at least 85% white Passerina grapes, it is a dry wine that pairs well with various antipasti (appetizer) dishes and fish. Guests joining us on select tours based out of Ascoli Piceno will get to taste Passerina in both its still and bubby versions.
Vino Cotto – Don’t be fooled by its name: vino cotto (“cooked wine”) is technically not wine at all, as it does not undergo the vinification process required to make what you traditionally perceive as wine. Instead, it is made from a variety of cooked down red grapes. Once the grape must is cooked down to 50% of its original volume, it undergoes an aging process similar to balsamic vinegar and is enjoyed as a dessert wine. Vino cotto is one of the many types of “wine” that is not exported abroad, but you’ll enjoy it with Ciambellone (an Italian tea cake) when you join us on select tours.
How to Find the Best Wine in Le Marche, Italy
With an estimated 310,000+ wineries in all of Italy, and most of these wineries producing numerous wines, choosing the best wines to drink from Le Marche on your trip to Italy is no easy feat. That’s why we carefully select each and every wine producer you’ll meet when you join us on a small group tour in Italy! From wineries that offer small batch vintages to the innovative cooperatives that work with small farmers producing award-winning wines, we’ve got you covered!
If you’re ready to see the real Italy without doing endless research and booking countless accommodations, activities, reservations, and instead enjoy your Italian vacation by sitting back, relaxing and letting two locals of the Le Marche region do the work for you…
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