Hidden Treasures from Le Marche #ItalianFWT
Finding Le Marche with #ItalianFWT
Our #ItalianFWT group is off to Le Marche this month (virtually). I’ve included links at the bottom of this post to see what everyone else is up to!
Le Marche Region
As we travel around Italy, we visit some areas that are well known, and some that are almost unheard of. Part of the reason the area is less known is that the spine of the Apennine mountains, which define the western boundary of the region, formed a difficult barrier for trade. In fact, just look at a map of Italy: Naples, Rome, Genoa. There are so many big cities on the western side of the boot. Look over on the east. Until you get to Venice, there’s nothing. Except beautiful beaches…
Outside of Italy, Le Marche is not well known, but the tourist bureau has a very nice website for dreaming from afar. There is a lot of very nice coastline with many lesser known or even undiscovered beach destinations. As an old windsurfer, I was happy to see windsurfing mentioned among the many beach activities available.
Beaches mean lots of seafood, and that’s what I decided to explore, along with Le Marche wines to match, of course.
Wines of Le Marche
I was vaguely aware of the region as the source of Montepulciano based red wines such as Rosso Piceno and Rosso Conero, otherwise, I was clueless. So what is there to know?
The top wines of the region are white wines, made from the Verdicchio grape. In fact, more than half of the DOC classified wine produced in Le Marche is made from Verdicchio.
Verdicchio is thought to be an indigenous grape to Le Marche, an excellent reason to make it the “home wine” of the region. There are two principal DOC zones for Verdicchio: Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and Verdicchio di Matelica. Matelica is farther inland and higher altitude, while Castelli di Jesi is closer to the coast. In Minnesota, I was only able to find Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi.
Garofoli “Macrina” Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore DOC 2012 ($16 at South Lyndale Liquors)
Eye: Clear, bright warm yellow color
Nose: Light nose, flowers, almonds, pears
Mouth: Medium body, tart acidity. The mouthfeel has a touch of roundness. A bit of almond bitterness on the finish.
Le Marche reds are mainly based on the Montepulciano grape. Montepulciano is a grape, a wine and a city. All in different regions of Italy. Confusing? Yes.
If you run into Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, you’re drinking a Sangiovese based wine from the town of Montepulciano in Tuscany. If you’re drinking Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine, you’re drinking a wine based on the Montepulciano grape, but produced in the Abruzzo region. Rosso Piceno and Rosso Conero are Montepulciano based wines from Le Marche, even though Montepulciano isn’t in the name anywhere. Go figure.
Montepulciano in Le Marche: Rosso Piceno and Rosso Conero
Rosso Piceno is the lesser of the two wines. Rosso Piceno wines are required to be 35 -70% Montepulciano, 30- 60% Sangiovese and up to 15% other indigenous reds. Rosso Conero must be made from at least 85% Montepulciano with the possible addition of up to 15% Sangiovese.
Moroder Rosso Conero DOC 2012 ($16 at Zipp’s in Minneapolis)
The Moroder Rosso Conero is made of 100% Montepulciano, and is aged for 24 months in very large wooden botte.
Eye: Not quite clear, opaque center transparent toward the edge. Purple/red tending toward blue.
Nose: Blue fruit, lean nose. No obvious herbs or earth
Mouth: Dark fruit, lively acidity, medium minus tannins, lean mouthfeel.
Pesce All’ Acqua Pazza
Coastal areas in Italy offer a variety of seafood stew dishes. Every town seems to have their own special version. Pesce all’acqua pazza (fish in crazy water) has such a fun name, you can believe it’s claimed by many areas. Is it from Venice, or Capri, or Le Marche?
Common themes seem to be tomatoes, liquid, garlic and some kind of hot pepper. The fish is usually poached in the liquid and the whole thing is served on grilled bread.
After a bit of searching, I think there could be a whole cookbook dedicated to Pesce all’acqua pazza. There’s even a recipe from Olive Garden (shudder), but it seems to keep only the name and misses many of the key ingredients. We’ll just let that one go. Here’s the one I used:
- The Garum Factory – Lots of tomatoes, introduces crushed fennel seed in addition to the normal ingredients, accompanied by beautiful food photography. My minor modifications were corvina for the fish and jalapenos instead of red peppers for the spice. I just thought the dish would benefit from some bright green.
Here are some other recipe choices. Interestingly, none are the same:
- Food & Wine Magazine (a Marcella Hazan recipe), minimalist but true
- Chef Paulette from her visit at a cooking school in Campania
- Memorie di Angelina includes a suggested list of optional ingredients
- Lubbock Avalanche Journal in New Jersey includes fresh fennel
- Food Network – adds a bunch of ingredients plus scallops
Which wine with Pesce All’ Acqua Pazza?
I’ve previously been advised to embrace red wine with seafood in the Italian way. Since this dish has abundant tomatoes, I thought a red wine might be perfect. I kept the spicy factor muted to not clash too much with the tannins in the red wine. Know what? There’s a good reason Verdicchio is thought of as an excellent seafood wine. It just plain tasted better with the dish.
We’ll explore all of what makes up Le Marche this Saturday May 2nd in our group. Join us live on twitter Saturday and throughout the weekend at #ItalianFWT. We can’t wait to hear from you and share our joys of Le Marche.