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The Marche (or Marches) is a region in central Italy’s eastern coast, or in the middle of the back of the “boot” on the Adriatic Sea. The rivers that run through it are the Metauro, Potenza, Tronto and Nera. There are a diverse number of microclimates thanks to the rolling hills off the Adriatic Coast and the Apennines Mountains, the rivers and the lowland areas. This affords wine-makers many choices between cool and warm climate grape growing conditions.
Civilization and wine culture has been in the region since ancient times, starting with the Greeks, through the Etruscans, Romans, Byzantines and Lombards. In the 8th century, the Franks, including Charlemagne, began annexing the Marches to the papacy. This resulted in a heated land dispute between the Vatican and the ruling emperors, who attempted to retain portions of it as “fiefs,” which were controlled by various nobility. In the 10th century, the name “Marches,” which means “boundaries” came about when the now capital Ancona along with Fermo and Camerino were set as the border with the Holy Roman Empire. Many more centuries of land dispute followed from total papal supremacy, then it came under French rule, until the Italian unification in the 20th century.
The majority of the wine produced in the Marche falls under the IGT labeling status, as the wines don’t adhere to the strict DOC guidelines but span vineyard areas, grape blends and aging techniques. This affords producers more freedom to experiment with blends and techniques. There are 15 DOC titles and 4 DOCG.
The Marche has long been reputed as a white wine region, particularly for the varietal Verdicchio. The grape is found in two of its DOCGs, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and Verdicchio dei Metalica, with other styles in various DOCs either as a varietal release and in blends, such as in Colli Maceratesi (featuring the rare white grape Maceratino). Bianchella is another prevalent white grape, found at its best in Bianchello di Metauro. Other white varietals of the Marche are Trebbiano, Pinot Bianco and Pecorino, which span many DOC titles.
The reds of the Marche are often produced as rosso blends, such as Rosso Cinero and Rosso Piceno and the red blend Terreni di Sanseverino. The principal red grapes are Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Ciliegiolo and Pinot Nero. Lacrima di Morro is an indigenous red that is used in dry blends as well as the sweet Lacrima di Morro d’Alba DOC. Vernaccia di Serrapetrona DOC sparkling wine is produced both sweet and dry from a rare red form of this grape that is only grown within the Serrapetrona zone.
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