From: Marche, Italy
Taste: Beautifully expressive, concentrated, and complex, this delicious white wine offers up alluring and exotic notes of apricot, white peach, yellow plum, ginger, and assorted spices that lead to its classic almond finish. Despite its rich and extroverted personality, it retains wonderfully refreshing verve and acidity.
Pairing: An ideal white to enjoy with spicy stuff, vegetarian fare, and firmer, oilier fish and seafood, it’s also a fabulous aperitif. The wines characteristics and location of origin make it an ideal match with regional seafood dishes such as Brodetto di Pesce, a rich seafood stew like bouillabaisse, cheeses such as pecorino, or more “exotic” dishes (i.e. foods from/inspired by a non-European origin, like the Velvet Fish with Mushrooms recipe we’re sharing below- P.S. it can be made vegetarian as well) that include earthy and umami notes, plus the most difficult match of all : bitterness in food, such as brussels sprouts or Belgian endives. The almond bitter finish of Verdicchio wines echoes these flavors beautifully. When in doubt, drink Verdicchio!
Velvet Fish With Mushrooms
By Sam Sifton
About. Maurizio Marchetti makes one of the finest Verdicchio Classico’s we have ever laid our taste buds on. His tiny production, old vine, Tenuta del Cavaliere bottling is layered, lush, and sophisticated, taking advantage of an extra month on the vine to develop greater structure and depth of fruit. It is deftly made, with fresh pear, melon, and an overall honeyed flavor profile that still retains its beautiful acidity.
Maurizio Marchetti lives just outside Ancona, near the Adriatic coast of Italy. This region sees 200 days of sun each year, and you can taste it in his Tenuta del Cavaliere, his top Verdicchio bottling. Also, his wife is a cardiologist, and let’s just say she makes a pretty healthy living for the family. Since he doesn’t need to rely on his wines to earn an income, Maurizio is picky and discriminating in his vineyards. In fact he is so selective that he sometimes produces as little as a half bottle of wine per plant! It’s this level of care and commitment that makes this wine so special.
For those unfamiliar with Verdicchio, it is certainly one of Italy’s most important white grapes. It can produce everything from fresh, light, and mineral wines to ripe and spicy ones like this one.
About the region. Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi is a white-wine DOC located in the Marches region of central Italy. In 2010 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva was separately given the higher DOCG status.
One of the most famous and historic Marche appellations, these dry white wines are made from the ancient Verdicchio grape variety. Legend has it that when the troops of the king of the Visigoths, Alarich (370-410), marched on Rome, they drank barrels of Verdicchio to maintain their strength.
Verdicchio means "little green one", a name which holds true for the wines it makes in central Marche. These are typically straw colored with pronounced green tinges and have a correspondingly "green" aroma profile, leaning towards herbaceous notes and fresh apples. This is complemented by crisp acidity and a pleasant, slightly bitter aftertaste redolent of toasted almonds.
As well as the dry whites, other forms of Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi are made. These include dried-grape passito wines, which may be either sweet or dry, and foaming spumante. The latter can be made using either the Charmat method or methode traditionnelle. The DOC also has a theoretically superior classico (see Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico) sub-zone. The Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Superiore designation denotes wines with an extra 0.5 percent of final alcohol by volume.
The wine-producing zone encompasses the hilly territory around the town of Jesi in the province of Ancona. This area features many medieval fortified villages – the castelli of the DOC title. The terroir here is ideal for the production of mineral-tinged dry white wines, thanks mostly to its calcareous, clay and limestone-rich soils and a relatively dry maritime climate.
The temperate climate here is due to Jesi's proximity to the Adriatic, and to various local rivers such as the Cesano and Esino. The east-west passage of the rivers and their corresponding valleys provide the area with persistent gentle winds, onshore during the morning and offshore in the late afternoon. This constant ventilation helps prevent the onset of fungal diseases such as grey rot and mildew.
Verdicchio from Jesi and its neighbors is markedly softer and more rounded than that produced in Matelica just to the south. Verdicchio di Matelica usually needs several years of aging to relax its sharper character. In contrast Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi is approachable within the early months of its life.
Later-harvest Verdicchio (this wine)
“…One way of doing that is working on the aromatic side and harvest Verdicchio at a later stage, when the grape is riper. This brings along stronger aromas of exotic fruit, summery flowers and sometimes even a touch of honey. These wines are not sweet, hence the later-harvest as opposed to proper late-harvest. But it is clear that a later harvest has a consequence for the structure of these wines : the acidity is definitely not as high and there is more fruit, which makes for a different, rounder wine. There where it gains in aromatic diversity and perhaps even complexity, it also loses somewhat in freshness and structure. It is fair to say it also loses a bit of its varietal typicity, but this style of wine will probably appeal to a larger group of wine drinkers.”
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