Marche is a region on the eastern side of central Italy. It occupies a roughly triangular area whose longer sides are formed by the Apennine Mountains in the west and the Adriatic Sea in the east. Emilia-Romagna and Abruzzo are its neighboring regions to the north and south respectively, and it is separated from Umbria only by the Apennines.
Marches’s winemaking heritage spans thousands of years and has been influenced, among others, by the Etruscans, Romans and Lombards. The presence of these various cultures goes a long way to explaining the breadth of vinicultural tradition and wine styles in the region. Marches’s vineyards cover around 60,000 acres (25,000ha), and produce almost two million hL of wine annually. The majority of this is sold as Vino di Tavola or under the Indicazione Geografica Tipica title IGT Marche. Only 20% is sold under the region’s 15 DOC and four DOCG titles.
Marches is best known as a white-wine region, although it is home to some reds of very high quality too. In terms of volume, the leading white varieties here are the ubiquitous Trebbiano (in various forms) and Verdicchio, the grape to which Marches has been a spiritual home for more than 600 years. The finest expressions of Verdicchio are found in the DOCGs Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and Verdicchio di Matelica. These green-hued, refreshingly crisp, green-tinged white wines are characterized by lively acidity and subtle herbaceous undertones, and are an excellent food match for Brodetto di Pesce, a rich seafood stew made locally.
Among the red wines of Marches, the finest are generally made from Montepulciano and/or Sangiovese, the dark-skinned varieties which dominate central Italian red and here make the intensely fragrant Rosso Conero Riserva. Supporting these fine reds are DOCs Rosso Conero (only the riserva can carry the DOCG status), Rosso Piceno and Lacrima di Morro d’Alba. These firm, tannic wines are unusual in the sea of Marche’s white and lighter-hearted reds, and fly the flag for diversity in the region’s wine production.
There are also a number of DOCs that come in bothe red and white wines, for example Offida (where Pecorino is making its mark along with Passerina), and those from the Colli Maceratesi hills, especially Maceratino, and Esino with its top Verdicchio and Sangiovese-Montepulciano blends.