Wine alone could provide an excellent motive for touring in the Marche and winemaking in the area has been having its own little renaissance over the last decades, with a move away
from quantity towards quality.
From producing rough plonk for the masses, the region now boast some outstanding vini da meditazione, wines so good they should be drunk with
religious respect. These top class wines are not cheap and often cost much the same whether bought here or back home. But as well as the fashionable labels, you can drink excellent wines at excellently low
Joy, anyway, is not only to be found in the restrained sipping of august bottled vintages, but also in the enthusiastic quaffing of young, local wines. These still-living brews are
liable to dramatic alteration at the mere changing of the moon and are barely able to withstand the journey from cellar to table (let alone a long trip north), yet often delight by their incisive personality and
honest price. Often - but sadly not always - you will not go far wrong simply sticking to the vino della casa.
The Marche's pride is Verdicchio
made from the local grape with the same name. This green-tinged wine with a distinctive bitter finish goes well with the region's Adriatic fish. It is among Italy's best-known dry whites, and has come a long way since the commercially successful but mediocre Verdicchio of twenty odd years ago. The two DOC (the official Italian equivalent of the French Appellation Contrôllée) versions are -
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and Verdicchio di Matelica. The Riserva versions of both wines have now been given the elite DOCG category. The other Marche DOC whites include
Bianchello del Metauro and Colli Pesaresi Bianco from the north, Esino Bianco and Colli Maceratesi from the central Marche, and Falerio, and Offida Pecorino and Passerina
from the south.
While the Marche is known world-wide for its white wine, the region also makes some outstanding reds. Around the Conero peninsula,
Rosso Conero, made from the Montepulciano grape, is a rich, perfumed wine that often reaches greatness - the riserva version now boasts the coveted DOCG description on its label. Rosso Piceno,
and the even better Rosso Piceno Superiore from the south, blend Montepulciano and Sangiovese grapes. A red sparkling oddity is Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, normally a sweet dessert wine but also
available in a drier secco version; this is Le Marche's other DOCG red wine. Other Marche DOC reds include Sangiovese dei Colli Pesaresi around Pesaro, Esino Rosso
and the delicious intensely-scented Lacrima di Morro d'Alba, both from the central Marche, Vernaccia di Pergola in Pesaro e Urbino province, and Colli Maceratesi Rosso
from around Macerata.