Regional Overview: Italy's Marche
Hidden Italian coastal region boasts authentic, food-friendly wines.
Imagine yourself on a white, sandy beach admiring the view of a rocky coast dotted with quaint fishing villages and weathered trading posts. Looking away from the water, your gaze turns skyward to catch a glimpse of the green, rolling hills covered with patches of Cyprus trees, ancestral vines and olive trees. These picturesque hills seem to protrude straight out of the Adriatic. Everywhere you look as you stroll leisurely through these coastal towns, you see a population committed to preserving a local culture centered on the pleasures of food and wine. This is the essence of the Marche region, an unspoiled Italian treasure brimming with culinary delights and a kaleidoscope of wine styles – red and white, traditional and modern. Wine critics and writers have long ordained this micro-region the ‘next Tuscany.’ However, a closer look reveals this magical food and wine culture is happy just being itself.
At any given point along the Marche region’s 110 miles of scenic coastline, you are certain to be entranced by the region’s devotion to food and wine. Just a two-hour train ride from Florence, the coastal town of Ancona is the region’s epicenter; its 11 DOCs and 2 DOCGs fan out around this capital city. Rosso Conero, the region’s most important red wine region, literally wraps itself around Ancona. Its best vineyards are nestled high among the hills above the town and deliver a dense, juicy wine from Montepulciano and Sangiovese. To the south the grapes remain red with the sophisticated wines of Rosso Piceno, offering a sultry, feminine expression of the aforementioned varietals. Further west of Ancona we get our first look at the regions that first put the Marche on the wine map - the trio of Verdicchio DOCs. Given its border with the Adriatic Sea, Marche wines are natural seafood pairing wines, which is especially true of its whites. The vibrant, citrus-driven Verdicchios have proven to be some of the most distinctive whites made in all of Italy and have received international acclaim for their fresh, inviting style. And yes, while the Marche is best known for its native varietal wines, growers are experimenting with French grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Syrah like their Tuscan neighbors to the west. Lunacolo’s quality IGT offerings, among other top Marche producers, suggest that these internationally-styled ‘Super Marches’ are a great match with the Marche terroir.
The Marche is one of the only Italian wine regions to benefit from the combination of high elevations, hillside vineyards, and a cool maritime climate. This unique landscape and devotion to quality makes the Marche a region to watch closely in the future. Whether you seek the fresh citrusy style of Verdicchio or the deeply fruited wines of Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno, or something a bit more modern in style like a richly textured Cabernet, the Marche has something special for every palate.
The Marche at a glance
- Major grapes: Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Verdicchio, Cabernet Sauvignon
- Principal DOCs/DOCGs: Rosso Conero, Rosso Piceno, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi
- New IGTs: Marche
- Area under vine: 20,000 hectares
- Climate: Mediterranean with consistent warmth and cooling sea breezes
- Main soil composition: Mixture of clay and limestone
- Chief viticultural hazard: High yields
- Top producers: Lunacolo, Il Conventino, Fattoria Le Terrazze, Sartarelli, Moroder