Some critics have called Verdicchio the best Italian white wine, but we are betting many of you have never tasted it or even heard of it! Let’s just say, if you love Chardonnay, then Verdicchio is a wine you must try. Hailing from the Marche region of Italy, which we are also betting is a region you have never been to and maybe never even heard of, Verdicchio is not to be confused with the white wines you may associate with Italy like a light Pinot Grigio. On the contrary, Verdicchio is a rich, complex, exciting wine that some have called a red wine disguised as a white wine. Sometimes oaked like a Chardonnay, Verdicchio is a great wine for fall and winter, a great Holiday wine, and a white wine that can age for decades. After tasting and reviewing it, we can understand why there are those who consider it the King of White Wines - so listen in to find out more! Wines reviewed in this episode: 2021 Velenosi Querciantica Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico, 2021, GarofoliSupera Verdicchio di Matelica, and 2018 Bucci Verdicchio Classico dei Castelli di Jesi
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Episode 99: Italian Wine Adventure #9: Verdicchio 00:00
Hello! And welcome to The Wine Pair Podcast. I’m Joe, your sommelier of reasonably priced wine, and this is my wife and my wine pairing partner in crime, Carmela. And we are The Wine Pair!
Ok, a quick orientation for those of you who may be new to the podcast - in each episode we learn about, taste and give our honest review of three wines that are reasonably priced - meaning under $20 each - and should be easy for you to find, and we talk about what foods to pair with that wine! And our podcast is made for people who want to learn more about wine, find new wines to enjoy, and just want someone to talk about wine in a fun way that regular people can understand and use in their daily lives. So, if that sounds like you, you are in the right place! And we are proud to say that we are recommended by the editors of Decanter Magazine who call us fun, irreverent, chatty, and entertaining.
Well, Carmela, it’s been a couple of months, but this week we are going back on an Italian wine adventure, which is almost the next best thing to actually taking a trip to Italy to have a real-life adventure. Almost.
This time, we are taking a trip to the Marche region of Italy, a place neither of us have been to, but is just another place in Italy that we want to visit someday. Put it on the list. That keeps getting longer.
Marche is on the central East coast of Italy, and is one of the least known and least visited areas of Italy, at least by Americans. Its capital city and its largest city is called Ancona, and at 100,000 people, it is not a huge city. Which is probably one of the reasons why we are not that familiar with it. Maybe the most famous city in Marche is Urbino, which is a Renaissance era city but actually has history back to the Roman Empire.
So, if you want to go somewhere in Italy where you are not going to run into a lot of American tourists, and you want to see a relatively unspoiled version of Italian culture, and you like to visit beaches, and you like to shop for shoes, Marche may be your spot! And if you want to meet tourists from other parts of Europe, like people from Germany or the Netherlands or the UK, and you want to visit Italy on a bit of a budget, you may really like Marche! In fact, some articles online call it Tuscany without all of the tourists and tourist traps.
Now, I know we are here to talk about wine, and we are going to talk about a pretty well known white wine that comes from the Marche region called Verdicchio, and we will do that in a few minutes, but I do want to just talk about the shoes. As Spike Lee would say as his famous Mars Blackmon character: “Money, it’s gotta be the shoes!” (From Spike Lee’s Nike commercials with Michael Jordan from the early 1990’s)
According to a website called “Wonderful Marche,” which feels like it should be a pretty reliable source of information about Marche by the way, they claim that Marche is the birthplace of Italian shoes, and of course many people believe that the best shoes in the world come from Italy. And, people like us would say that pretty much the best of everything related to food, wine, and fashion comes from Italy, but that’s another story. Evidently, you can still find craftsmen who will make shoes by hand, but there are a few well-known shoe companies in Marche IF you know something about high end shoes. Which I do not.
But if you do know about shoes, shoes like Cesare Paciotti come from Marche - I saw shoes on their website that are over $1,100 - or Tod’s shows come from Marche - I saw womens loafers that are more than $1,300 - or Hogan’s shoes which come from March, where you can get sneakers for over $500. I will just admit, as a bit of a shoe peasant, and someone who looks for things that are at least relatively reasonably priced, those are shoes I’ve never heard of, and will never buy. Let’s just say they would not be on the podcast.
Now, we better get back to the topic at hand, which is to learn about and taste and review the wine from Marche called Verdicchio, and we have three Verdicchio wines to try today to see what we think and if one of these wines is something we would recommend you buy, and we’ll do all of that in a minute . . .
But first . . . we have to do our shameless plug.
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And, as we do every week, we’ll tell you someone we think you should tell about The Wine Pair Podcast. This week, we want you to tell anyone who wants to visit Italy but wants to go someplace a bit off the beaten path and doesn’t want to spend a fortune, then we think you should tell them about this episode, and let them know that, if you can’t visit Italy, this podcast and episode and in fact series of episodes on Italian wine adventures is the next best thing!
ARTICLES and LINKS
Topic: WTF is Verdicchio? 10:19
So, Carmela, I think we should find out just what the f Verdicchio is - even though it is a wine we have had a few times before. The question we really want to answer today is - will it become a new go-to wine or not.
Verdicchio is a white wine grape and white wine, but there is a hint in the name to what the color of the wine can sometimes look like - if you know Italian or other Romance languages. Verde is what in Italian - green in Italian, and so Verdicchio gets its name from the fact that it can sometimes look a little greenish.
According to a website that I have a link to in our show notes - if you go to this episode on our website, Verdicchio has been around for a long time, even though for many people it may seem new. It has been produced in Marche since the 7th century, and it is designated today as a DOC wine. Which means that it is an officially recognized wine and wine region. Interestingly, this is a wine named for the grape varietal and not the region which can be a bit unusual in Italy.
On the other hand, in a story similar to many Italian wines, starting in the 1960s, the production quality of Verdicchio started to get better when winemakers started to focus more on how good their wines were rather than how much they could make. We hear a lot about Italian wines that became popular and then mass produced and then started to taste like caca and then fell out of favor until the quality started going up again, that is kind of what happened here.
Like a lot of white wines that we like, a good Verdicchio should have some flavors and aromas of citrus and apple and pear and tropical fruit and a bitter aftertaste. It is a high acid wine that pairs well with food, and is sometimes oaked, so this may be a wine for those of you who like an oaky Chardonnay (which we don’t but we know a lot of people do) and so we’ll see if any of the wines we are drinking today fit that bill.
Also, the Riserva and Superiore versions of the wine, the latter of which is often oaked, are said to be wines that can cellar for decades. Decades, bro! And some people say in general this is a white wine that should age for a bit. One article I read and have a link to in the show notes called Verdicchio a “lazy” wine that takes time to mature.
Verdicchio is also supposed to be a bigger bodied white wine, which is one of the reasons we decided to do an episode on it now, because a bigger bodied white can be really good for fall and winter and for the Holidays. So, again another wine that a Chardonnay lover may like.
So this is likely not going to be your typical, light but uncomplicated Italian Pinot Grigio. We are expecting this to be a complex wine. In fact Forbes calls it one of Italy’s greatest wines, and some have even called it the best Italian white wine, the King of White Wines, and a red wine disguised as a white wine.
There are actually two main Verdicchio wines, both from Marche, but different because of the soil and altitude. There is Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi which is named after the town in eastern Marche called Jesi where it is from, and this area is close to the Adriatic sea. The other is called Verdicchio di Matelica, and this region is farther inland and to the south and west of Jesi and is a much smaller area, about a tenth of the size of Jesi.
Jesi is at a lower altitude and closer to the sea and so the sea can temper the climate a bit more. The soil in Jesi is also composed of a lot of clay, which also helps to tamp down temperatures. Matelica soil is said to be more calcareous, which means it has a lot of limestone, and these soils are said to retain heat better. The impact of more heat around wine grapes means they are often lower in acidity and the fruit tastes may seem “riper.”
One really interesting thing I read in one of the articles is that some people say Verdicchio is not more well known or well regarded because it is not expensive enough. The reasoning being that higher price means higher quality, which we know is not always true. So, listen, if this is true, then it is the PERFECT wine for our podcast. Reasonably priced and high quality! We call that High QPR!
Ok, that’s a lot of information, but I will tell you, I am super excited to give this wine a try. So, let’s talk about the wines we chose for his episode, and then we can get to drinking!
ARTICLES and LINKS
Verdicchio Wines We Chose for This Episode 17:40
As usual, all of the wines we have chosen for this episode are under $20, and all of them should be relatively easy to find because I bought them all at wine.com. I will say that Verdicchio may not be the easiest wine to find - you may not be able to find it at your neighborhood grocery store - but if you go to a decent sized wine shop or one that has a good Italian wine selection, you should have no trouble finding it.
And two of these wines have professional ratings, one as high as a 95 from Decanter, although one has a rating from James Suckling, so, whatever. We also have one wine from the Matelica area and two from the Jesi region, and both of the wines from the Jesi region are Classicos, so we should have a good mix of the different regions and styles of wines. I hope!
The first wine we are going to be tasting today is the 2021 Velenosi Querciantica Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico, and this one as the one that got a 90 rating from James Suckling, but also some high 80 ratings from Vinous, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine Spectator, so that’s good!
There were actually quite a few write-ups about this wine, but I did have a little trouble finding out about how it is produced. I was able to find information on a website called call-me-wine, and the winery says they vinify it completely in stainless steel - so no oak on this one.
They also note that Querciantica refers to a specific vineyard that is about 300 feet above sea level, and they harvest the grapes by hand when they are slightly overripe, which means that it will have quite a bit of sugar in it, and this wine is 13% alcohol which is relatively high for a white wine.
So, this wine should be a pretty pure representation of a Verdicchio, which I am excited to try.
The next wine we are tasting is the 2021 Garofoli Supera Verdicchio di Matelica, and I could not find any professional reviews on this one, and again, it was hard to find a ton of information on it until I started digging around. Evidently, the Garofoli winery makes most of their wine in the Jesi region, and this is their first wine from the Metalica region.
The winery says that they hand-pick the grapes,and soft press them. Which sounds nice. They ferment at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks for 5 months. So, again no oak on this wine! I am interested to see if we can actually taste a difference between this wine from the Matelica region and the other two from the Jesi area.
The last wine we are going to be drinking today is the 2018 Bucci Verdicchio Classico dei Castelli di Jesi, and this is the one that has had some very high ratings, including a 95 from Decanter, which is sort of outrageous for a wine under $20.
This wine has been sold by a website called Wine Access which is an online wine seller that I have really liked over the years. They tend to have specialty wines and they don’t often sell at super low prices, but they do have some good deals.
This wine is definitely oaked - it is aged in large, old oak barrels, and so this could be a wine that the oaky Chardonnay fan in your life is going to like. And, even though that is not really the style of wine we like, we are going to keep an open mind! This is also supposed to be a wine that ages, so it is good that this is a 2018 because it just might be ready to drink.
The grapes are said to be 100% organically farmed, and they do not use herbicides or pesticides. Evidently, Ampelio Bucci, who is both the owner and winemaker, not only makes highly rated wines, but is also known as “the Professor” because he taught fashion in Milan at the University level, and he worked for more than 20 years in the fashion industry in Milan. So this guy is pretty amazing!
The Bucci family has also been making wines in this area since the 1700’s. So that’s something!
I am super interested in this wine to see just how oaky it is.
So, I think that is enough talking. We have three Verdicchio wines, several with good ratings, one that is oaked, and from the different regions in Marche, and so I am really excited to try these wines. If you happen to have a Verdicchio with you, pop one open and drink along with us as we taste and review these wines, and we’ll be right back.
ARTICLES and LINKS
Verdicchio Wine Pairing Tasting and Reviews 24:42
Wine: Velenosi Querciantica Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico (Click here to find this wine on wine.com. Affiliate link)
Region: Italy, Marche
Professional Rating: JS 90, V 89, WE 89, WS 88
What we tasted and smelled in this Velenosi Querciantica Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico:
- On the nose: Apple cobbler, baking spice, bitterness, nutty, baked or stewed apple, smells like Sauvignon Blanc, looks thick
- In the mouth: Pineapple, tropical fruit, spice at the end, cinnamon, clove, allspice, tang, some lime, medium body, good fall or winter wine
Food to pair with this Velenosi Querciantica Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico: fish, white flaky fish, mahi mahi, tuna sashimi, turkey pot pie, creamy sauces, rich buttery sauces, pumpkin ravioli, gnocchi, good Thanksgiving wine. A crowd pleaser.
As a reminder on our rating scale, we rate on a scale of 1-10, where 7 and above means that we would buy it, and 4 and below means that we are likely to pour it down the sink, and a 5 or 6 means we are likely to drink it and finish it, but we are probably not going to buy it.
Velenosi Querciantica Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico Wine Rating:
- Joe: 8/10
- Carmela: 7/10
Wine: Garofoli Supera Verdicchio di Matelica (Click here to find this wine on wine.com. Affiliate link)
Region: Italy, Marche
What we tasted and smelled in this Garofoli Supera Verdicchio di Matelica:
- On the nose: Forest, aged wood, Perugina lemon or orange candy, lemon, apple, mint, menthol
- In the mouth: Mint or menthol in the back of the throat, apple on the front, citrus, raw almond, stone fruit, fruit cocktail juice. rosemary
Food to pair with this Garofoli Supera Verdicchio di Matelica: harder to pair with food, charcuterie board, puff pastry with cheese, phyllo dough with spinach and cheese, focaccia, fried fish
Garofoli Supera Verdicchio di Matelica Wine Rating:
- Joe: 6/10
- Carmela: 6/10
Wine: Bucci Verdicchio Classico dei Castelli di Jesi (Click here to find this wine on wine.com. Affiliate link)
Region: Italy, Marche
Professional Rating: D 95, WE 91
What we tasted and smelled in this Bucci Verdicchio Classico dei Castelli di Jesi:
- On the nose: Oaky, smells like an oaked Chardonnay, buttery, lemon, peach, nectarine, pineapple upside down cake
- In the mouth: Complex, pleasant oakiness, elegant, oak is balanced, blood orange, bitterness, needs more time to age, intense, sophisticated
Food to pair with this Bucci Verdicchio Classico dei Castelli di Jesi: Good for Thanksgiving, seafood, spaghetti with clam sauce, grilled shrimp, lobster, chicken piccata, good with sushi, seafood curry, octopus salad, would not do with really spicy foods
Bucci Verdicchio Classico dei Castelli di Jesi Wine Rating:
- Joe: 8/10
- Carmela: 6/10
Which one of these are you finishing tonight?
- Carmela: Velenosi Querciantica Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico
- Joe: Bucci Verdicchio Classico dei Castelli di Jesi
Taste profiles expected from Verdicchio 43:40
- Forbes: aromas of melon, pear, citrus and white flowers, and have very good, sometimes lively acidity. Salty notes with minerality and almond bitterness
- Velenosi Querciantica Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico
- Winery: The nose shows floral notes of honey, fruits, such as apple and peach and hints of fresh-cut grass. On the palate it is fresh, and confirms the fruity and floral notes perceived on the nose. Well-structured with good texture and a medium finish
- Natalie McLean: Fresh, fragrant with almond nut, peach, lime zest with loads of apple, citrus zest, spicy and briny mineral flavours eye-winking zesty on the palate.
- V: Blends almond paste and a dusting of confectioners' sugar with pretty notes of peach and candied lime. It envelopes the palate in waves of ripe orchard fruits, yet quickly gains in tension, as a mix of salty minerals and citrus-tinged acids cuts through like a hot knife. This finishes spicy and tense, with a cheek-puckering sensation, yet it leaves the mouth watering for more.
- Garofoli Supera Verdicchio di Matelica
- Triangle Wine Company: Rich and ample, this wine teems with notes of lemon oil, pear, tangerine zest, and sweet almond. The brisk, resinous palate texture segues to herbal notes on the finish, complemented by further suggestions of fresh ginger, fresh fennel, and lip-dusting minerals
- Wine Feed: ‘Supera’ is a richly textured wine, teeming with notes of lemon peel, yellow apple, quince and dried tarragon and saying goodbye with a clean, crisp finish
- Bucci Verdicchio Classico dei Castelli di Jesi
- Decanter: Juicy freshness, salty liquorice and a long, mineral finish
- WE: Delicately scented, this offers aromas of spring blossom and white stone fruit. Round and medium-bodied, the palate doles out ripe Bartlett pear, white peach and a hint of baking spice, alongside tangy acidity
Outro and how to find The Wine Pair Podcast 46:21
Ok, so, Carmela, it is just about time for us to go, but before we do, we want to thank you very much for listening to us - and if you haven’t done so yet, now would be the perfect time to subscribe to our podcast and also a fantastic time to leave us a nice rating and review on our website or Apple podcasts or other podcast service - and it is an awesome and free way to support us and help us grow listeners.
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Alright, with that, we are going to sign off, so thanks again, and we will see you next time. And, as we say, life is short, so stop drinking shitty wine.