Italy is a huge wine producing country, perhaps best known for its wines from Tuscany (Chianti – yum! Brunello – delish!), Campania (Fiano d’Avellino – love! Greco di Tufo – adore!), Prosecco (pop pop fizz fizz!), Piedmont and Piemonte (mmm…. Barolo, Barbaresco!)
And then there is the Le Marche region in northeast Italy. Say what? Crickets, right? It’s a little-known region producing some world-class wines worthy of your attention!
First, let’s learn how to say it. Le Mar-kay. Easy, right? Easy-drinking, too, I learned after a Zoom tasting of Velenosi wines from Le Marche as part of this year’s Wine Media Conference (held online #stupidpandemic). I received four bottles of Velenosi wines, and Laura Donadoni (aka the Italian Wine Girl) hosted a fun and fantastic tasting. You want to know about these wines, because not only are they delicious – but they are amazing values, too!
Small but Mighty Le Marche
The region is tiny, compared to say, Tuscany, which clocks in at 4 million hectares. Le Marche is quite petite at .8 million hectares (800,000 hectares) The region stretches along a long, hilly coastline on the Adriatic Sea and enjoys sea breezes and sunshine that ripen the red and white grapes that grow there.
Velenosi Wines: Very Delicious! Velenosi is a family-owned winery that was established in 1984. Of the four wines sampled, three were absolutely, downright freaking delicious, and one was very freaking unique and fun to taste!
Velenosi Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi 2019 The Verdicchio grapes for this wine are all hand-harvested and the wine sees no oak – it is fermented and aged entirely in stainless steel, so it retains freshness, fruit and racy acidity. It was positively popping with fresh pear, peaches and floral notes and I loved it! Laura described it as “the Chablis from Italy” (which, sure, would probs make the Chablisiennes cringe, but it’s a great descriptor). If you like Chardonnay (like Chablis, or white Burgundy), you will love this wine. Per Laura, it would pair beautifully with oysters or any fish or shellfish dish. Verdicchio thought to be indigenous to the Le Marche region, but it is grown elsewhere in Italy as well, including Umbria and Lazio. SRP: $16.99
Velenosi Lacrima di Morro d’Alba At first, I was like, “wait … is this Lacryma Christi, the famous red wine from the hills near Vesuvious?” No. This Lacrima is an entirely different thing. It’s an indigenous red grape that grows only in Le Marche and it is one of the most unique wines I’ve ever tasted. Laura said it is very polarizing – “people either love it or hate it,” she said. It is super floral – like a bouquet of lavender and dried violets gushing out of the glass, backed up with spices like cardamom, cinnamon and white pepper and weighted with rich jammy fruit. It’s a huge wine, and my notes say “like a red Gewurtztraminer,” and I can’t remember who said that, but it’s accurate. All told, only 50,00 bottles of Lacrima are produced each year. If you like jammy wines with a floral kiss, this wine is for you! SRP: $16.99
Brecciarolo Oh, come to mama! This wine was insanely delicious. So Italian. So bursting with red cherries and raspberries, backed up with mocha and dried herbs, subtle dried violets and a tiny hit of mocha. It is a blend of 70 percent Montepulciano and 30 percent Sangiovese (the main grape in Chianti, Brunello, Rosso di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Morellino di Scansano – those Sangiovese grapes work hard!) This wine is aged in neutral oak French barriques, keeping it bright and fresh and pure. And you know what you pay for this beauty? It would be as perfect with pizza as it would with a juicy steak or burger. And at $18, it waaaay over-delivers on quality for that price.
Roggio Del Filare 2015 And we save the biggest, most elegant beast for last. You should probably have a slab of lasagna with meat sauce at the ready for this wine, or perhaps a juicy bistecca Fiorentino (steak Florentine). This well-muscled red blend of 70 percent Montepulciano and 30 percent Sangioveses (same bend as the Brecciarolo) is juicy and rich, with a strong backbone and big, well-integrated tannins and amazingly fresh acidity that keeps you going back for another sip. It sees 18 months in new French oak, which imparts a richness to the wine. It could age for up to 10 years, I think, but we drank it young and loved it! SRP: $50.00 and worth every single penny and then some.
I am so glad for the opportunity to have tasted Velenosi’s wines from Le Marche, because it’s fun to try something new! Next time you’re at your wine shop or shopping online, get to know these very delicious Velonosi beauties from La Marche. Cheers!