Italian wine: Montepulciano of the Conero in Le Marche

Jul 20, 2019 134

Le Marche is located in the central eastern part of Italy and is the 2nd hilliest region after Umbria.  Its capital is Ancona, which runs down to Monte Conero, the highest cliff on the east coast.  It forms what is known as the elbow of Italy or il gomito d’Italia.  Le Marche is dominated by mountains and hills and is a rather undeveloped region compared to others.  These are the ones that I love discovering.  Beautiful rolling hills, medieval villages and a long, rather flat coastline along the Adriatic.   

Many of the vineyards are located inland on the hills that climb up towards the Apennines.  As you can imagine located along the Adriatic the climate here is Mediterranean with sea breezes making ideal conditions for grape growing.   

The Grape ~ Montepulciano 

The Conero wine area of Le Marche is entirely based on red wines.  Here is where montepulciano shines.  In Conero you’ll find the Rosso Conero DOC and Conero Riserva DOCG.  Typical characteristics of montepulciano include a deep ruby color in the glass.  On the palate they are full-bodied and rather fruity with cherry notes and tend to be higher in alcohol with ripe tannins.   

The Wines ~ Rosso Conero 

These wines I’m sharing today come from both the Rosso Conero DOC and Conero Riserva DOCG.  These wines require a minimum of 85% montepulciano plus an optional addition of other reds from the region.  Many probably think of the Abruzzo wine region when they think of montepulciano, but those produced in Conero in Le Marche are well worth seeking out.   

Garofoli  

Started in 1871 by Antonio Garofoli today is operated up to the 5th generation of family members.  A winery large in size producing about 2 million bottles annually and 60% of it is exported worldwide.  Although it is large in size these wines that I’m sharing today show that really large wineries can still produce great wines.  Produced in their Castelfidardo winery these wines really demonstrated to me the potential of montepulciano in the Conero area of Le March. 

The 2015 Garofoli Rosso Conero “Piancarda” DOC Montepulciano from their “Linea Famiglia” line of wines is solely produced from the montepulciano grape.  It’s aged 1 year in traditional oak casks.  Ruby red in color.  This wine had good fruit with ripe plums and cherries, bright acidity and silky, elegant tannins. 

The 2012 Garofoli Rosso Conero Riserva “Grosso Agontano” DOCG Montepulciano is from their “linea selezione” line and is definitely a step up from the previous wine.  Dark ruby in color also produced from 100% montepulciano.  This wine was intense and jammy on the nose.  Aged about 18 months in French barriques about 10-15% new.  A very round, fruit forward, structured and complex wine with ripe plums and cherry with notes of vanilla from the wood aging.  Even more elegant than the last.  My pick of the two!  I love when a wine changes in the glass the longer you sip it. 

Fattoria Le Terrazza 

This winery was established in 1882 by the Terni family.  Located at the foothills of Monte Conero on a hilltop about 1 mile from the Adriatic coast.  Antonio and Georgina Terni hit a turning point when they decided to experiment in 1995 with some clones of montepulciano.  By 1999-2001 they replanted all their vineyards with the new clones.  Their principal grape production is with montepulciano, but they also produce syrah, merlot and chardonnay.   

The 2015 Le Terrazze Rosso Conero Montepulciano is made from 100% montepulciano and spends about 15 months in large oak casks.  Deep ruby in color with some purple tinges on the rim.  A rather fruity nose of red berries.  Medium bodied with a mix of ripe red and black fruits on the palate.  Rather soft and smooth with supple tannins.

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