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!

Wines from Le Marche with Pesce all'acqua pazza.

Wines from Le Marche with Pesce all’acqua pazza.

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…

Le Marche is shown in bright blue, which goes well with all that coastline on the Adriatic Sea. Map courtesy of www.inlemarche.com

Le Marche is shown in bright blue, which goes well with all that coastline on the Adriatic Sea. Map courtesy of http://www.inlemarche.com

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 wines are the tops from Le Marche

Verdicchio wines are the tops from Le Marche

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.

Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi - Excellent choice with seafood

Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi – Excellent choice with seafood

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.

Montepulciano Confusion
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.

Rosso Conero will be dominated by Montepulciano

Rosso Conero will be dominated by Montepulciano

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?

Pesce all'acqua pazza comes in unlimited variations

Pesce all’acqua pazza comes in unlimited variations, mine uses corvina for the fish and jalapenos for the spice.

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:


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.

The Verdicchio

The Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi was just right. The smooth, medium body and clean finish paired nicely with the lightly spicy red sauce.

#ItalianFWT Conversation
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.

Vino Travels Vernaccia di Serrapetrona: A 3 fermentation wine

Cooking ChatOrecchiette and Grilled Sausage with a Verdicchio

Rockin Red BlogMarche revisted for #ItalianFWT

Christy’s PalateLe Marche: Verdicchio with Spaghetti & Clams

Enofylz Wine Blog A Taste of Marche: Chicken in Potacchio with Sararelli Verdicchio

Food Wine ClickHidden Treasures from Le Marche

Join us next month Saturday June 6th as we explore the Campania region in Italy.  If you would like to join our group, email Vino Travels directly at vinotravels at hotmail dot com.
18 Responses to “Hidden Treasures from Le Marche #ItalianFWT”
  1. Fred Petters says:

    Nice Jeff! Beautiful in fact.



  2. Looks great Jeff! Nice dish. I recently wrote about the Garofoli Verdicchio too ; )

  3. Beautiful pairing. I love your descriptions of the wine and region. Great photos.

  4. Great post as always Jeff. Funny thing. I was poking around for ideas for Campania next month and came across Pesce All’ Acqua Pazza. I looked at the couple of the recipes you referenced above and also liked the Garum recipe and the F&W recipe. I saved a draft…then I came here and saw you’d already done it! LOL…oh well guess I’ll make something else! Yours looks great btw!

  5. Excellent research, wine and food. The grape, wine, city issue in Italy is like who’s on first. Ha! Great job Jeff. I love learning about Italy from you!

  6. orna2013 says:

    Very interesting blog. I’m sorry not to have been able to contribute to this month’s blog event. But, I am ashamed to say, I have not yet visited this region, though it is at the top of my list. 🙂

  7. Marche is one of the awesomest and least explored wine regions in Italy, in my opinion. We had amazing wines there last summer, and Verdicchio even ages ridiculously well. We had some with 12 years on them…

    Also, I hope you’ll get a chance to try Lacrima di Morro d’Alba at one point. One of the craziest red grapes I know…

    • thanks, Oliver. I did try a Lacrima di Morro d’Alba during our “month of Le Marche”. The particular one I found was a little too internationally styled (ripe) for my taste. Fun to try, though!

      • Ah, too bad. The ones I am partial to are crazy cassis in the nose and early palate, and then end in lemon curd…makes me want to go and open one of our last remaining bottles we brought from our trip. Luckily, I am not home, so that bottle gets to age a bit longer. 🙂

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Food Wine Click – Hidden Treasures from Le Marche […]

  2. […] Food Wine Click – Hidden Treasures from Le Marche from FoodWineClick […]

  3. […] Food Wine Click – Hidden Treasures from Le Marche […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: