MARCHE is a region along the northern part of the Adriatic coast of Italy. It is bordered to the north by San Marino and Emilia-Romagna, to the east by the Adriatic, to the south by Abruzzo, to the south-west by Lazio, to the west by Umbria, and to the north-west by Tuscany.
ANCIENT HISTORY | ‘Fossils of Vitis vinifera dating to the Iron Age have been found around Ascoli Piceno. Etruscan-style agriculture thrived here before the Roman conquest of the third century BC,’ says Burton Anderson (1990 p171). ‘Previously the Senone Gauls occupied the territory north of the Esino [River] and the Piceni dominated the south. The Romans, who admired the wines of Picenum, especially the Praetutian made in the southern Marches and northern Abruzzi, marvelled over the productivity of the chalky clay soil. The Greeks, impressed by the natural harbour, founded what is now the capital of Ancona,’ he adds. Later, the majority of the Marche came under Papal influence.
THE NAME | Rocco Vallorani told me ‘Le Marche is the only region with a plural name in Italy, because there are so many differences between the people and their ideas. Now travel is easy but in the old days due to the region’s valleyed topography every community was isolated and had to develop ideas and practices on its own. So that’s why there are so many differences. And that’s what we want to express in our wines. Celebrating the differences and how well they complement each other.’
DOC (15) | Bianchello del Metauro DOC. | Colli Maceratesi DOC. | Colli Pesaresi DOC. | Esino DOC. | Falerio DOC. | I Terreni di San Severino DOC. | Lacrima di Moro or Lacrima di Moro d’Alba DOC. | Pergola DOC. | Rosso Cònero DOC. | Rosso Piceno or Piceno DOC. | San Ginesio DOC. | Serrapetrona DOC. | Terre di Offida DOC. | Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC. | Verdicchio di Matelica DOC.
TERROIR | Marche comprises a strip of hills about an 18.6 miles (30km) wide which is compressed between the high ridges of the Umbria-Marche (Umbro-Marchigiano) Appenines in the west, down to the Adriatic coast and its sandy beaches in the east. The latitude and physical topography combine to create warm summers and night-day temperature variations. The hills, comprised of marly- or sandy clay, are well-drained by around a dozen, evenly spread rivers. These run from the mountains east to the Adriatic Sea, diving the region into a series of west-east valleyed strips. Only two of Marche’s regions lie apart from this strip, Verdicchio di Matelica which lies within a pocket of the Apennines and thus with no direct maritime influence, and Rosso Conero on the coast at Ancona.
WINE GRAPES | Red Dr Ian D’Agata (2014, p42) says Marche’s best known red grape is Sangiovese in red blends like Rosso Piceno and Rosso Conero, which also contain Montepulciano. Aromatic reds come from Lacrima and Vernaccia Nera. White Dr Ian D’Agata (2014, p42) says Marche’s best known grape, Verdicchio, is arguably Italy’s best for white wine, adding that Pecorino and Passerina (both of which are also found in neighbouring Abruzzo) and Cococciola are the up and coming varieties.
MARCHE WINE PRODUCTION
2014 Marche produced 915,000 hectolitres (down 12% on the previous year) of which 51.9% (475,000hl) was white and 48.1% (441,000hl) was red. However, the average production over the previous five years was between 880,000 and 890,000hl. Nearly half (45%) of the production (418,000hl) was taken by Vino da Tavola. DOC wine accounted for 35% (328,000hl). IGT wine accounted for 18.4% (169,000hl). | 2013 Marche produced 1,039,000 hectolitres (ISTAT). | 2012 Marche produced 918,000 hectolitres (ISTAT). | 2011 Marche produced 741,000 hectolitres (ISTAT). | 2010 Marche produced 927,000 hectolitres (ISTAT). Of this 427,194hl was DOC/DOCG wine (Federdoc). | 2009 Marche produced 782,000 hectolitres (ISTAT). Of this 385,816hl was DOC/DOCG wine (Federdoc). | 2008 Marche produced 871,000 hectolitres (ISTAT). Of this 437,293hl was DOC/DOCG wine (Federdoc). | 2007 Marche produced 757,000 hectolitres (ISTAT). Of this 427,049hl was DOC/DOCG wine (Federdoc). | 2006 Marche produced 1,090,000 hectolitres (ISTAT). Of this 463,385hl was DOC/DOCG wine (Federdoc). | 2005 Marche produced 1,206,000 hectolitres (ISTAT).
Burton Anderson, The Wine Atlas of Italy, Mitchell Beazley, 1990 p171-179.
Richard Baudains, ‘Local hero’, Decanter, April 1997, p73-76.
Dr Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy, University of California Press, 2014.