Verdicchio – Italy’s Killer V

“I think we all remember a time when the Italian white on the tip of everyone’s tongue, from the fanciest of restaurants to the coziest of trattorias, was Pinot Grigio. However, so much has changed since then. Granted, it’s taken Italian whites much longer to be seen seriously than it has with Italian reds. This should come as no surprise, given that Trebbiano (and the ocean of varieties that are similarly named or mistaken as Trebbiano) remains the most widely planted grape in the country. Fortunately, more and more winemakers are now looking to the indigenous whites of their regions, some of which have been saved from the brink of extinction. These days we talk about the true Trebbiano grape and what it can accomplish in the right hands. We also hear about Carricante, and how it may be Italy’s next great Italian white variety. There is also Fiano, which has already proven its worth over the course of decades. However, there is one Italian white grape that I believe has yet to get the full attention it deserves. It’s a variety that can be produced in a young and remarkably fresh style to pair with the warmest of summer days and light cuisine. It’s also capable of producing a much more serious wine with the potential to mature for upwards of a decade. It even succeeds when harvested late, lending textural depths and ripeness that balances wonderfully against the variety’s naturally high acidity. Oak? It can handle that too, while still communicating varietal purity. The fact is, it may be the most versatile of all of Italy’s white grapes. The grape is, of course, Verdicchio. If you haven’t already delved into its multifaceted expressions - or enjoyed a mature bottle - then you’re missing out. The good news is that it’s not too late to start exploring now, nor will it break the bank. Verdicchio’s home is Le Marche, where we find two Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) appellations, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and Verdicchio di Matelica, along with DOCG Riserva status for wines aged eighteen months prior to release. While it’s also been proven that Verdicchio is the same variety as Trebbiano di Soave, as well as a host of other varietal names throughout the Veneto, it’s in the Marche that producers have been hard at work to bring Verdicchio to the world’s stage. Better farming practices, identifying the best clones to use in the right locations, single-vineyard expressions and modernization within the wineries are just a few of the reasons we’ve witnessed a surge in quality. SO, WHY AREN’T WE ALL DRINKING AND CELLARING VERDICCHIO? In my opinion, Verdicchio fell victim to its own marketing. Granted, at the time, in the 1960s and 1970s, it made all the sense in the world to market the region's wines to the masses as an easy-drinking quaffer that’s crisp, delicate and pairs perfectly with fish. To make matters worse, the wines were packaged in fish and amphora-shaped bottles. This might work for the supermarket consumer trying to decide which wine to match with the seafood they planned on cooking up that night, but it certainly didn’t communicate that the wine within might be something special and age-worthy. At the time, it also worked well for producers who were able to focus on quantity over quality, while still turning out wines that were crisp, fresh and, surprisingly, in spite of farming practices, full of character. Speaking of character, there does seem to be something decidedly green about Verdicchio (taking part of its name from the word “Verde”), but that’s not meant as a negative connotation. Verdicchio has a notable green hue within its straw yellow color, as well as aromas and flavors that often bring green citrus, apple and melon to mind. You’re sure to find well-defined minerality as well, which is a perfect pairing with the grape’s vibrant acids. However, if there is one flavor profile that nearly any producer will associate with the variety, it’s almond, which can be a bit bitter in a Verdiccho’s youth, while sweetening over time. Granted, these are generalizations. Understanding that the two Verdicchio DOCs within the Marche region are markedly different is also important.” --Eric Guido, Verdicchio – Italy’s Killer V, September 2020 To read Eric’s full report and learn about the difference a DOC can make and the vintages in the market, check out the full article on Vinous now. Below is a selection of notes from the report.

Colle Stefano

Collestefano Verdicchio di Matelica 2019

Delectable Wine
8.9

The 2019 Verdicchio di Matelica is racy and vibrant in the glass with a kiss of sweetness that I’m finding quite alluring. Lemon zest, peppery herbs and florals give way to crushed limestone and hints of peach. It’s soothing and gentle, yet with enough juicy acids and spice to create a wonderfully balanced expression. Salty minerals linger long on this tension-filled and thirst-quenching Verdicchio. (Eric Guido, Vinous, September) — 22 days ago

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Garofoli

Podium Superiore Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 2016

Delectable Wine
9.2

The 2016 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Podium from Garofoli is just starting to show a bit of mellowing on the nose, opening to notes of ripe yellow apple, sweet florals, almond paste and stone dust. It soothes with silky textures, ushering in flavors of white peach, laced with salty minerals and a twang of green citrus. There’s so much density, giving way to a savory spiciness that lingers in the mouth along with hints of hazelnut. The 2016 has many years to go before reaching full maturity, but it can be enjoyed now on its potential alone. (Eric Guido, Vinous, September) — 22 days ago

Tenuta di Tavignano

Misco Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore 2018

Delectable Wine
9.2

The 2018 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore Misco leaps from the glass with intense citrus yet rich, creamy, even spicy, more like lemon curd than fresh fruit, offset by musky crushed stone and dusty florals. It hits the palate with silky, round textures, ushering in ripe yellow fruits laced with salty minerals, all framed by brisk acids. The finish is long and incredibly fresh, leaning more toward the tart spectrum, hinting at orange rinds and wild herbal tones. The Misco is a wine of contrasts, with satiating richness yet overbrimming with energy. (Eric Guido, Vinous, September) — 22 days ago