Le Marche And Verdiccio

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After the break in Florence I headed south to my new workaway volunteer gig in the March region. A couple of ex-pat South African guys who decided to chuck the rat-race back home and move to the country. They bought a run down sixteenth century villa in one of the town of Gualdo which is one of many Medieval hilltop towns in this part of Italy. They are renovating the building into a B&B. They have uncovered previously hidden beautiful frescos and the view from pool will be a killer. In the meantime, the house where I volunteered at was perched on a hill with a  stunning view of rolling green hills and craggy, snow capped mountains in the near distance.

On Saturday afternoon we took a drive to the town of Jesi, familiar to anyone who drinks Verdicchio which is the local star. On the way we stopped at an archeological dig with remains of a Roman coliseum and walls. We drove by a winery and decided to stop in. The winery,  Tenuta Di Tavignano was a beautiful property with well manicured grounds that would not be out of place in Napa, we stopped in the cantina for a tasting. We started with the 2012 Rose which is made from 100% of the local Lacrima grape. It was the color of cherry juice with a nose of red cherries, a  nice sipping wine. Next wine was the 2012 Pecorino which is the grape varietal. I like to think of this varietal as the starter wines to the more well know Verdicchio. The color was yellow with a nose of lemon and lime with some earthiness and mushroom on the fruit and crisp acidity on the finish. The final wine was the 2012 Villa Torre Verdicchio Classico. It was golden in color with a nose of wild flowers and mowed grass with notes of mango and nice mouth feel with great balance and nice acidity on the finish. The boys bought a case.

After my week stay with the guys I travelled to Perugia. A beautiful Etruscan town in the hills of Umbria, I stayed at a hostel that was a half hour bus red from town. Very rural, in fact in the middle of a farm. While I was there they told me of the local winemaker which was highly recommended. The winery was a couple of kilometers from the hostel so one afternoon I took a bike and headed out. The winery was Goretti and it’s a family run operation but they still manage to crank out a half million bottles of wine a year. When I made it to the winery it was a beehive of activity and there’s nothing like the aroma of manure to whet the appetite for a wine tasting. I was led to the tasting cave and sampled a few wines.

I began with the 2012 Grechetto. It was light yellow with a nose of grapefruit and mango with tropical fruit on the finish as well as firm acids. Not too bad for 3 euro a bottle. The next wine was the 2011 Il Moggio. It had an interesting label that changed color with the temperature of the wine. A white label meant the wine was warm, a red label meant it was cold and a pink label was just right. The color was yellow with a nose of earthy mushroom and oak with earthy fruit and nice acids on the long finish. It spent four months in barrel. The 2011 Fontanella Rosso is s blend of Sangiovese and Merlot. It was dark purple with a nose of grape bubble gum, very juicy  with cherry leather fruit notes. The 2007 Arringatore was the star of the tasting. About 60% Sangiovese and was dark red to black with an nose of violets and pencil shavings. Chewy, silky and concentrated and had a balanced, dusty and long finish. The 2010 Montefalco Rossso “Le Mura Saracene” was dark purple in color with a nose of sweet plums and was rustic and chewy with big tannins on the finish. The final wine was the 2005 Sagratino Montefalco “Le Mura Saracene”. It was black in color with a nose of sweet black cherry, chewy with some dried leaf notes on the fruit, I thought the finish was a little unbalanced.



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Decided to spend a couple of days in Florence, me and a million other Americans. I arrived on a Sunday and most of the wine bars were closed but I did manage to stop by a couple of them for local wine a porchetta sandwich. Now this is my kind of town, wine and swine.

Near the Duomo I stumbled on a local hole in the wall wine bar, Fiashetteria Osteria Nuvoli. Restaurant in the cellar and tiny wine bar upstairs where I stood with some of the locals munching on a porchetta sandwich. I had the 2012 Camillo Ciliegiolo. Darker than I thought it would be, very dark to dark purple with a nose of dark graphite and was tight and dusty, firm with good balance. For the next glass I had the 2010 Massari Motecucco which is a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. It was dark black with a nose of blueberries with concentrated fruit with notes of pencil shavings and black leather and toasted nuts on the finish.

After more meandering I stopped by another hole in the wall wine bar that I’ve seen listed in guide books, Note Di Vino. Lots of salami hanging from the ceiling but not an impressive wine by the glass list though the one wine I had wasn’t all that bad. The 2011 Cecchio La Morra Morellino Scanasino. The wine started nicely, it was dark red with a purple robe and had a nose of roasted coffee with tight black fruit with a bit of tartness at the end.

On next day, Monday more of the wine bars were opened. The hostel I stayed at ran a free tour of Florence on Monday morning so I spent that morning running after the tour guide and catching up on the iconic sites. After a couple of hours of sightseeing, it was time for wine. Which is not as easy as it sounds because that involves navigating Medieval streets. On the way to a wine bar I passed by this wine shop that was advertising a glass of the house Chianti for 2 euro. Why not. The wine was Lelame 2010 Chianti Classico. It was served from a magnum fiasco bottle. A blast from the past. It was black in color with a nose of dark berries and violet, concentrated and earthy and finished with fairly high citrus notes, but for the price, drinkable.

After a glass I was on my way to the wine bar I was looking for which was Casa Del Vino, a wine bar that had a few mentions in the guides that I researched. It  was a small place filled with tourists and local businessmen. I had a pannini filled with something the guy next to me ordered, I’m not sure what it was and I don’t want to know. The wine I drank was the 2010 Roggiano Morellino Scassano. It was dark red with a violet robe, with a nose of violet and roasted coffee and was deep and concentrated and was tight and firm with a dusty finish with firm but manageable tannin on the finish.

Stopped at one of the best pannini places in town not far from the Duomo. I Fratellini is a hole in the wall where the locals stop by for a sandwich on a heated roll with a glass of wine. You stand outside and eat and they have racks for you to put you glass on which you munch on your pannini. Good sandwich.

Chianti producer, Castello Verrazzano has a cantina a few blocks from the Duomo and I stopped in for a degustione. After consultation with my waiter, I ordered a salami plate and four wines. The first was the 2010 Chianti Classico. It was medium red with a nose of roasted nuts and bacon and was tight and firm with some tartness at the end. Nothing exciting but a good starter wine.

Next up was the 2009 Riserva Chianti Classico. It was medium to dark red with a nose of red leather and roasted meat, it was silky with notes of dried mushroom on the finish. Very tasty.

The 2003 Riserva Chianti Classico was red with an orange robe and had a mature nose of ripe plums, cigar box and smoky dried blueberries and was concentrated and velvety with roasted nuts on the long finish, it had great grip. Another nice wine.

My last wine was the 2009 “Sassella” Riserva which is their Super Tuscan. 100% Sangiovese, it was medium red with a nose of sweet leather and roasted hazelnuts with bright fruit, silky with firm tannin and very crisp acids on the finish, not as good as the previous two. On a side note, my waiter was very professional with the tasting but while I was still working on my last wine, another staff member dropped the check without me requesting it. In Italy that’s very rude.