There are few countries in the world with a viticultural history as long or as illustrious as that claimed by Italy. Grapes were first being grown and cultivated on Italian soil several thousand years ago by the Greeks and the Pheonicians, who named Italy 'Oenotria' – the land of wines – so impressed were they with the climate and the suitability of the soil for wine production. Of course, it was the rise of the Roman Empire which had the most lasting influence on wine production in Italy, and their influence can still be felt today, as much of the riches of the empire came about through their enthusiasm for producing wines and exporting it to neighbouring countries. Since those times, a vast amount of Italian land has remained primarily for vine cultivation, and thousands of wineries can be found throughout the entire length and breadth of this beautiful country, drenched in Mediterranean sunshine and benefiting from the excellent fertile soils found there. Italy remains very much a 'land of wines', and one could not imagine this country, its landscape and culture, without it. Marche, an Italian wine region on the Adriatic coast, is one of the world's most ancient wine regions. For thousands of years, vines have been cultivated in this beautiful and mountainous landscape, and the region has been influenced by the Pheonicians, the Lombards and the Romans, giving it a wine culture and identity quite unlike any other region of Italy. With a relatively high number of DOC and DOCG titles, Marche is home to many of Italy's finest wines, and is a region most readily associated with superb white wines. Indeed, the most common grape varietals grown in Marche are the Trebbiano and Verdicchio, which have been cultivated in vast amounts for white wine production in Marche for at least six hundred years, and which produce wines packed full of unique flavors associated with the region.
Sangiovese is the primary grape used in Northern Italy in the region of Tuscany to make Chianti and also for Brunello di Montalcino. Sangiovese produces wines that are spicy, with good acid levels, smooth texture and medium body. In the right climates and with controlled yields, Sangiovese can be made into very structured and full bodied wines. It is usually blended with other grapes for best results and in northern Italy is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon in the 'Super Tuscan' blends.
Because of its ability to create smoother wines with acid levels that pair well with many foods, a great deal of experimentation is taking place with it as a blending agent with several red varieties.
The Marche, literally "the Marches", originally referring to the medieval March of Ancona and nearby marches of Camerino and Fermo) is one of the 20 Regions of Italy. The name in Italian is Le Marche, where marche is the Italian plural of marca.
In this little known region the amount of red and white wines produced are almost equal.
The main regional white is the excellent Verdicchio, a dry characteristically flavored exceptional white, made from at least 85% of the grape with the same name. Both the Verdicchio di Jesi and the Verdicchio di Matelica DOC wines complement perfectly local dishes such as the Lumache alle Nove Erbe, snails cocked with nine aromatic herbs, and the Brodetto di Pesce, a bouillabaisse-like rich seafood stew that, though found all over the Adriatic coast, reaches its best expression here.
Other whites include the Bianchello del Metauro, made near the Metauro River estuary on the north coast of Pesaro, as well as the Bianco dei Colli Maceratesi or, "White from the Macerata Hills", produced near Macerata, south of Ancona.
Among the reds, the Rosso Conero and the Rosso Piceno are particularly appreciated. The limestone-rich soil of places like the Mount Conero, combined with the dry maritime climate, contribute to giving the Montepulciano grapes that make up these wines their characteristic flavor.