The Marche region, located on the east coast of central Italy, offers the perfect scenario to grow vines. 97% of the territory is comprised of sweet rolling hills that slope into the Adriatic sea. Beautiful sun exposure and mineral soil provide perfect nutrients to the vines, and plenty of rivers cross the green countryside west to east.
In Le Marche some important indigenous varietals thrive, giving remarkable wines like Verdicchio, Pecorino and Passerina (white varietals) and Montepulciano, Lacrima and Vernaccia, among red grapes.
Q: Are sommeliers and wine buyers finally starting to catch on to the regions wines in US? Which wines in particular from the Garofoli family production are doing well?
Le Marche wines have been regular stars on wine lists for decades in the US; the trend to offer one or more Marche wines by the glass is fairly new. San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City jumped on Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and Conero Montepulciano five to ten years ago and today the most picky wine lovers and professionals love Marche region wines.
From the family production, Podium Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore or Grosso Agontano Conero DOCG are no doubt the main characters – always rewarded Tre Bicchieri Gambero Rosso for the past decade.
Q: Garofoli is one of the biggest producers in the region, about 1 million bottles produced each year. Large production may not be appealing in some wine communities, what is the Garofoli family doing to preserve quality and reputation?
Garofoli always respected and promoted Le Marche land with the typical passion of a family. Don’t forget that in Italy, “big” doesn’t mean “corporate” as it does here in the States. Garofoli is a family of ‘down to earth’ growers/producers. The family has owned the winery since 1871, while most of their Marche competitors started in 1970′s and 1980′s.
Sometimes it is more challenging to offer a great quality and traditional wine producing a million bottles, than producing just a small amount of very expensive bottles of what the market is demanding for what is fashionable.
Many times in the past 141 years, Garofoli has been the innovator and leader in raising quality standards, collaborating with agronomy universities and the Italian wine legislation. Garofoli never hired a consultant winemaker to show off a famous name; a member of the family is always in charge for winemaking choices or vine growing. In addition, Garofoli never invested in planting to international grape varietals – Bordeaux or Burgundy style – in fact, they always believed in indigenous varietiels, offering worldwide the excellence from Le Marche with no compromise.
Q: Sangiovese and Montepulciano from Le Marche. How different will these varietals taste vs other regions?
Montepulciano of Marche region comes from an incredible area. Conero district in particular is a mountain that slopes down into the sea, the vines here thrive in an abundant chalky soil, giving a beautiful and rare minerality. Sangiovese here is lighter and fruitier compared to other regions and perfect to match with grilled fish and tomatoe-based fish soup, or as a co-star in some of the most important Marche DOCs.
Q: Verdicchio is the leading varietal in Le Marche, can you please describe what makes this terrific Italian white so special and why?
Verdicchio is for sure one of the most important white Italian grape varietals worldwide, with Greco, Cortese and Friulano. Verdicchio’s typical high minerality, together with a great texture and bright acidity make this variety great for aging and food pairing – see Serra Fiorese DOCG Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva: complex minerality, floral and herbaceous notes, dry, crisp, very persistent, a fine wine with a great personality.
Giammario Villa – Master Taster, Certified Sommelier, Italian Wine Specialist and Brand Ambassador in the US market for premium wines under the label Giammario Villa Wine Selection*. Official teacher, board member and Marketing Director of NASA (North American Sommelier Association.) Graduated member of AIS (Italian Sommelier Association.) Wine Instructor at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA Extension) one of the world’s most prestigious and respected institutions of higher learning.
*In collaboration with EuropVin – a Cristopher Cannan-Bordeaux based company, and Mike Miller’s Golden State Wine Company, wine distributor since 1982.
Map provided by CellarTours : http://www.cellartours.com