Taste: Aromas of apples, lemons, stone fruits, herbs and nuts are followed by flavors of apricot, lime, peach, pear and toasted almonds, along with a mineral edge and a pleasant, slightly tart aftertaste. If oak is used in the production of the wine, additional vanilla and even coconut flavors may be present and notes of honey can develop over time.
Body: Light to medium, but can also be full.
Dry / Sweet: Dry
Age: Most should be drunk while young and fresh. The best wines can improve for up to ten years after release.
Aka: Also known as Marchigiano, Turbiana, Uve Marana, Verdone and Verzello.
Verdicchio (vair-DIK-ee-oh) is mainly grown in the Marche (mar-kay) region of central Italy, which lies along the Adriatic coast and is east of Tuscany and Umbria with the Apennine Mountains forming its western border. It is probably indigenous to this region and historical records reveal that it has been cultivated here since at least the 14th century.
Its name, a derivative of “verde” the Italian word for green, translates as “the little green one” and refers to the greenish hue of the grapes and the wine it makes. Verdicchio is a high yielding vine and it’s also quite hardy and can produce a lot of clonal variation (i.e. clones can display different features). The chief characteristic of the grape is its natural high acidity, which makes it very versatile from a winemaker’s perspective.
Indeed, as far back as the 18th century it was used to produce one of the first Italian sparkling wines and it is still used for this purpose today. This acidity also defines Verdicchio as a table wine and, unlike many whites, gives it the ability to improve with age, which makes it one of Italy’s most interesting white wines.
In the 1960s and 70s Verdicchio was sold as a cheap and cheerful wine for immediate consumption and was packaged in novelty glass bottles, which included fish shapes and attempts to replicate ancient amphora (two-handled urns). However, as wine markets developed and the demand for higher quality wines increased, Verdicchio fell out of fashion.
In the intervening decades winemaking in the Marche region has improved dramatically with the best producers more focused on developing the innate qualities of the grape and its ability to gain great structure, complexity and concentration with age. Some producers also use oak and mature their wines sur lie to enhance flavor and body.
Having said that, you will find that many wines are still uncomplicated, refreshing and made for easy drinking. To experience the most interesting wines you need to seek out those made by the better producers and paying a little more for a Riserva wine (aged for a minimum of 2 years) is well worth it. The best wines are produced in the DOC’s of Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and the smaller Verdicchio di Matelica. Each DOC displays different aspects of Verdicchio, while also expressing its true varietal character.
When young, these wines are fresh and crisp and as they age their acidity softens, the structure becomes more defined and they gain complexity. Aromas of apples, lemons, stone fruits, herbs and nuts are followed by flavors of apricot, lime, peach, pear and toasted almonds, along with a mineral edge and a pleasant, slightly tart aftertaste. If oak is used in the production of the wine, additional vanilla and even coconut flavors may be present and notes of honey can develop over time.
Verdicchio is sometimes blended, but the majority of the wines from the above-mentioned DOC’s are pure varietals. Most wines are best while they are young and fresh. Those made by the best producers, and Riservas, can continue to improve and gain complexity for up to ten years.
Verdicchio represents excellent value for money as the grape, as well as the Marche region, is still very much overlooked and under appreciated.
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