Over 3000 varietals in Italy- that's a DAUNTING task.
Luckily, you're only here for Grapes of the Marche.
- Vernaccia Nera
- Bianchello (Biancame)
- Incrocio Bruni 54
- Other Italian Varietals
- International Varietals
The hearty Montepulciano, Italy’s 2nd most dispersed indigenous grape.
If you’re thinking Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, screech the brakes; that’s Sangiovese.
If you’re thinking Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, you’re on the right track.
There are 95 provinces spread over 21 regions that make up all of Italy. Of those 95, 20 contain DOCs that utilize Montepulciano. It’s just one of around 3000 different varietals grown throughout the country, and it’s officially used for DOCs in 21% of Italy. That doesn’t even include the producers using it for IGT wines! You will find it primarily grown in central Italy (Marche, Tuscany, Abruzzo), where it is indigenous. It’s rarely found in the north; temperatures are not high enough to allow full maturation.
The harvest for Montepulciano is later than other varietals, usually the end of October. It’s a grape that needs time to fully mature; like Cabernet Sauvignon, picking too early can lead to excessive “green” flavors. The plump, weighty grape tends to have relatively low acid and can produce rich, deep wines with big, soft tannins and high alcohol.
Marche DOCs/Gs Utilizing Montepulciano
Rosso Conero DOC
Rosso Piceno DOC
Offida Rosso DOCG
Esino Rosso DOC
Esino Rosso N0vello DOC
Colli Maceratese Rosso DOC
I Terreni di Sanseverino Moro DOC
Centanni Monte Floris, Marche Rosso IGT
Lacrima, one of the most interesting grapes found in the Marche, is one of the many unique and native varietals. Outside of the village Morro d’Alba, in the center of the region, this ancient grape is rarely found. The production area of the Lacrima di Morro d’Alba DOC is miniscule, and it is only produced by a handful of estates.
The history of Lacrima goes back to ancient Rome, when it was first recorded to be in production. Its first mention in a work of literature was in the middle ages. As legend has it, Frederick Barbarossa (aka Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor) came to appreciate the perfumed wine during his siege of Ancona in 1167. He had taken residence at the Castello di Morro d’Alba, and so naturally came to know Lacrima very well.
The word Lacrima translates to “teardrop”, referring to the thin skin of the grape that often “cries” drops of juice as it ripens on the vine. The wine it produces is bright ruby red with hues of violet, and gives intense aromas of roses and stone fruits.
Marche DOCs utilizing Lacrima
Lacrima di Moro d’Alba DOC
Lacrima di Moro d’Alba Superiore DOC
Lacrima di Moro d’Alba Passito DOC
Pecorino is the unique white grape that thrives in the hills around Ascoli Piceno, the southernmost province of the Marche. The Piceno hills are ideal home for the varietal thanks to ample exposure to sunlight and nightly breezes that come down from mountains.
“A long-lived wine, powerful because it is rich in energy, pleasantly flavorful because it is rich in mineral salts, ash and acid”. – Winegrower Emanuele Dianetti
The grape is unique in that it has thick skins, high Brix or sugar level, high acidity and grows best at higher elevations, quite unusual for a white grape. It matures easily even in years that are “sun-hungry”.
The low-yielding vines make for a full-bodied white that shows layered complexity with irpe, concentrated flavors. It’s a grape with ageability- many Pecorino wines can age 10+ years, as opposed to the typical life-span of 2-4 years in many whites. The Marchigiani call it “the red that dresses as a white”.
-Italian 101: the word for sheep is Pecora; Pecorino is also the name for a type of sheep cheese–
As the story goes, it was first discovered hundreds of years ago, growing high in the foothills of the western Sibillini Mountains. Shepherds were taking their sheep to graze, and they came across the wild vines, the hearty grapes hanging just low enough to reach. The sheep began happily munching on the grapes, and seeing this, the shepherds exclaimed, “Ehi! Pecorino”!
In the past, most producers were looking for quantity, not quality. Pecorino almost went extinct because of low-yields. It was a grower named Guido Cocci-Grifoni who saw the potential of the grape, and he began planting in the 70’s. Many others at the time thought he was crazy (as most mavericks are seen before their time). Today, it is one of the most important grapes of the region, the rising star of the Marche.
Marche DOCs/Gs Utilizing Pecorino
Offida Pecorino DOCG
Falerio Pecorino DOC
Verdicchio, the grape that was first to gain the international spotlight for the Marche, becoming famous through the 1970’s with its amphora or fish-shaped bottles. Like Chianti, it was originally thought of as a cheap and unsophisticated wine. Also like Chianti, Verdicchio has rebounded, with producers crafting beautiful, complex whites from the grape, some even showing long, evolving lives.
Verdicchio has been cultivated in the Marche for over 600 years; documents dating back to the 14th century note its presence in the region. The name is derived from the Italian word verde, or green, a reference to the yellowish-green skins that give subtle green hues to the wine when young.
The wine itself is usually crisp and dry with high acidity. Often it will have notes of citrus, banana and almonds, and is most often full of minerality. The grape also makes for a nice sparkling wine, and was in fact one of the first spumantes produced in the 18th century.
Today, winemakers in the Marche have embraced Verdicchio as the flagship grape of the region, refocusing their efforts to produce quality, attention-worthy wines. This has been made possible through improved grape-growing & winemaking techniques, as well as better equipment in the farm and winery. The wines now often have layered complexity that has earned it notoriety on the international marketplace.
Marche DOC/Gs utilizing Verdicchio
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC
Verdicchio di Matelica DOC
Colli Pesaresi DOC
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva DOCG
Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva DOCG
Vernaccia Nera is a black grape variety found in the north & central provinces of the Marche, as well as Sardegna and Tuscany. Genetically, it is identical to the Spanish varietal Garnacha, with slight differences due to development in isolation within different areas over centuries.
The largest concentration of vines is found in the Marche, where it is used for either a unique red sparkling wine, as a single varietal still wine or in various blends.
Marche DOC/Gs utilizing Vernaccia Nera
Vernaccia di Serrapetrona DOCG
Colli Maceratese DOC
I Terreni di Sanseverino DOC
San Ginesio DOC
Maceratino, an ancient varietal that has records back to antiquity. Grown predominantly in the Marche, plantings of the vine are decreasing and the grape is becoming more rare. Only a handful of producers make this unique, refreshing wine.
The vines are usually found in the province from which the name is derived, Macerata. There, you will also hear it go by the name Ribona. Genetically, it is thought to be a relative of the Greco and Veridicchio grape varietals.
Marche DOCs utilizing Marceratino
Colli Marceratesi DOC
- Ancient grape varietal, grown also in Abruzzo, Emiglia-Romagna & Lazio
- Named for the genus of birds that often eat the grapes (similar origin story as Pecorino)
-Italian 101: the word for sparrow is Passero; Passerina grapes are a favorite snack of the little birds–
- Small berries, thought to be a mutation of Biancame
- Thick skins, often ripen to a deep golden color
- Naturally high sugars & acids, does well in all but the hottest sites
- Common character of ripe citrus in all Passerina wines
- Dates from 500 bc
- Grown primarily in the northern areas of the Marche for the Bianchello del Metauro DOC, as well as Emilia-Romagna for the Colli Rimini DOC
- Mid-to-late ripening vine, vigorous and prone to large canopies that require much pruning
- Cross-breed: Sauvignon x Verdicchio
- Created in 1936 by Professor Bruno Bruni, who cross-pollinated the cultivars
- Quite uncommon, grown exclusively in the Marche
- Nearly went extinct due to low yields, now seeing more plantings from more producers as it can lead to a beautiful white wine
- Sangiovese ( Italy’s 1st most widely dispersed indigenous grape, Derives name from Latin sanguis Jovis, “blood of Jupiter”)
- Trebbiano Toscano
- Malvasia Bianca Lunga
- Malvasia Toscana
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Cabernet Franc
- Pinot Nero (Noir)
- Petit Verdot
- Sauvignon Blanc