Stretching for 100 miles along the Adriatic coast, Le Marche (Mar-Kay) is a hidden gem among Italy’s famous wine regions. While it may be one of the more unknown regions in Italy, Marche is not to be overlooked. Located in the hub of some of Italy’s most popular regions; Emilia-Romagna to the North, the Apennine Mountains and Umbria to the West, Abruzzo South, and the Adriatic Sea to the East. Le Marche is a geographical wonder with beautiful winding cliffs, dramatic mountains, white sandy beaches, and crystal clear waters.
There are various climates at work in Le Marche making its hot summers and cool winters ideal for the cultivation of vines and different grape varietals. As you travel inland towards the mountainous regions, the climate is cooler with snowy winters, and towards the Adriatic coast, Le Marche is a mecca for warm sunny summer days.
Marche is made up of 5 provinces; Ancona (Marche’s capital), Ascoli Piceno, Fermo, Macerata, and Pesaro and Urbino. Some Le Marche regions operate out of the Adriatic port, making it an economic hotspot for trade with Croatia, Greece, and other Mediterranean countries.
THE TERROIR OF LE MARCHE
Marche has diverse terroirs and micro-climates, making it an ideal place to grow healthy red and white grapes. The terroir ranges from various calcareous soils to limestone, mineral-heavy clay and sand.
Sweeping diurnal shifts and ocean air from the Adriatic Sea, benefit the Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi greatly. While the hills of Rosso Piceno offer sunlight, shelter, and excess rainfall drainage for the Montepulciano and Sangiovese.
Marche is composed of 25,000 hectares (60,000 acres) of vineyards, producing two million hectoliters of wine annually. 20 percent is sold under the region's 15 DOC and four DOCG titles. Le Marche is best known as a white wine region, however, there are also very high-quality reds.
Its leading white varieties are Verdicchio, Trebbiano, and Bianchello. The finest red wines are made from Montepulciano grape and Sangiovese.
THE WHITE WINES OF LE MARCHE
White grape varieties in Le Marche: Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Bianchello, Verdicchio - These are green-hued, straw-colored, refreshingly crisp wines. They lean towards herbaceous notes and fresh apples. It has crisp acidity and mineral undertones thanks to the clay and limestone-rich soil.
Trebbiano – Trebbiano yields grapes that flaunt high acid. As a varietal, its wine is crisp, light-bodied with subtle hints of lemon, white flowers, and stone minerality.
Bianchello – Bianchello grape produces wines that yellow in color, almost straw-like, with a delicately dry, aromatic nose. Although not the most adventurous or well-known wine, this is a refreshing white style, perhaps to be enjoyed in the summertime along the beautiful Marche coastline.
THE RED WINES OF LE MARCHE
Sangiovese - Italy’s and the Marche’s most planted red grape variety. Sangiovese is prized for its high acid, firm tannins and balanced nature. Savory flavors of dark cherries and black stone fruit are characteristic of this wine
Montepulciano - the most widely planted red variety after Sangiovese. Montepulciano can make a soft deeply colored fruity red wine. It has a high alcohol extract and a decent level of acidity. The vineyards are scattered in the hilly zone between the Adriatic coast and the Appennine mountains.
THE FOOD OF LE MARCHE
Marche may be one of the more unknown regions in Italy, however, its rich agriculture, trading ports, and recipes dating back to Medieval times make it an influential food region for Italy.
Pork is one of the main protein sources in Marche but instead of the typical thin-cut Italian style prosciutto, pork recipes rely on thick chunks as well as many different types of sausages. A hearty favorite local smoked sausage is ciauscolo, made with half pork and half pork fat, and well seasoned with salt, pepper, orange peel and fennel seed.
Of course, pasta is a staple in any regional Italian cuisine. In Marche, they make Vincisgrassi. This a layered dish with lasagne noodles, chicken livers and giblets, veal brains, ham and mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese. Lumachelle, is another popular dish, which is a cheese flavored egg pasta, is made into a favorite soup called minestra di lumachelle.
Several classic seafood combinations are very popular. Potacchio includes white wine, tomato, onion and rosemary with lemon juice. Alla marinara stews the seafood in tomato sauce and gratinati al forno broils the fish in the oven.
Author: Melissa Norton ©