Verdicchio is a white variety grown in the Marche region and is is one of the world's age-worthiest white wines

Verdicchio

Grapes

VERDICCHIO

Verdicchio is a white variety grown in the Marche region and is is one of the world's age-worthiest white wines

greenish

VERDICCHIO grape in a nutshell
  • Verdicchio is a white variety grown in the Marche region.
  • It is the equivalent of grapes founded in other parts of Italy like Turbiana (Lombardy), Trebbiano di Soave (Veneto), and Trebbiano Verde (Lazio). However, the wines labeled as Verdicchio only originate from Marche.
  • Vigorous and thick-skinned, Verdicchio is an extremely versatile grape, giving anything from light-bodied still white to full-bodied Riserva, vibrant sparkling wines, and luscious Passito.
  • The name Verdicchio means "greenish" in Italian and refers the color of the grapes
VERDICCHIO wine in a sip
  • Verdicchio usually displays aromas of lemon peel, herbs, almond and stone fruits in their youth, with medium to high acidity and herbal/almondy flavors that add to its freshness.
  • The flavor profile radically changes with longer aging: Verdicchio, in fact, is known for being one of the world's age-worthiest white wines. Top-notch versions drink for well over fifteen years.
  • Recommended food pairings depend upon the specific style you go for.

What is Verdicchio?

A white variety with many different names, Verdicchio is widely grown across many regions in Italy – including Lombardy, Veneto and Lazio. The name Verdicchio, however, is exclusively used in the Marche region, where the variety produces some of Italy’s best white wines.
Vigorous and thick-skinned, this grape owes its name to the greenish appearance of the bunches – in fact Verdicchio means “little green”. Extreme versatility is one of its main calling cards: it produces almost any style of dry and sweet white wine.

Verdicchio hasn’t always been the exciting variety it is today. Its vigor meant it mainly enjoyed success as a workhorse grape in the 1960s and 1970s, giving loads of inexpensive and uninteresting bulk wine.

Its popularity was also decreed by a hugely successful marketing strategy: Fazi Battaglia, a leading producer in the Castelli di Jesi area, started retailing Verdicchio in eye-catching amphora-shaped bottles. Recalling the packaging usually associated with Provence Rosè, this packaging allowed Verdicchio to become incredibly successful in international markets.

Although rarer than in the past, amphora-shaped bottles can still be spotted in a few convenience stores and wine shops, especially in the United States.

The qualitative upheaval of Verdicchio started in the late 1980s thanks to the efforts of a small group of pioneering wineries who moved on from the amphora-based strategy and started cutting yields to achieve higher concentration. They also re-introduced oak aging, exploiting longer contact with the fine lees to obtain more complex wines. 

What are the origins of Verdicchio?

The legend says that Alaric, the Gothic king, invigorated and emboldened his warriors by letting them drink Verdicchio while marching towards Rome in 410.
There is no historical evidence to support that yet Verdicchio is likely to be one of many Central Italian native varieties that were born in the Middle Ages. It may have been brought to Marche by the Venetians, and that would explain the genetic ties to Turbiana and Trebbiano di Soave.
In agricultural manuals from the 1500s, Verdicchio is described as a superior quality white wine – exceptionally clear and fragrant.
The first experiments with the Champenoise method in the Castelli di Jesi area date back, instead, to the 19th century.

Where is Verdicchio grown in the Marche region?

Central Marche is the key production area for Verdicchio: the valleys of the Esino and Misa rivers, which comprise the Castelli di Jesi and Matelica appellations, provide a perfect growing environment for this grape.
Castelli di Jesi lies closer to the Adriatic sea, while Matelica covers the only valley running from north to south in Central Italy (as opposed to east to west).

 

What does Verdicchio taste like?

Among the great white wines of Italy, Verdicchio is undoubtedly the most polymorphic. Dry styles range from easy-going and light to full-bodied and age-worthy. Sparkling wines are also historically relevant and worth seeking out.

Young, unoaked versions usually display aromas of lemon peel, nectarine, hawthorn, chlorophyll, and iodine. Light and easygoing, they emphasize lifted – if not extremely high – acidity, with slightly almondy and herbal flavors adding to their freshness.

Ambitious examples spending more time on the fine lees or undergoing oak aging, display, instead, richer aromas of honey, quince, sweet spice, hay, flint, and sometimes an earthy touch. Often labeled as Superiore or Riserva, they are bolder and creamier but retain excellent balance thanks to enlivening acids and savory undertones.

Then you have to take the difference between Matelica and Jesi into account, which is really a matter of maritime Verdicchio vs. continental Verdicchio. Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi being is normally fruitier and smoother, while Verdicchio di Matelica is at once more floral, higher-acid and more alcoholic due to the longer hanging period.

Sparkling wines mix leesy notes with the typical herbal freshness of the variety, and the best ones are at once creamy and zesty, rivaling the best Franciacorta or Trento DOC. Last but not least, Verdicchio produces luscious Passito when affected by noble rot – sweet but not cloying and retaining excellent balance thanks to lively acidity.

Does Verdicchio age well?

Verdicchio gives some of the age-worthiest white wines in Italy. While entry-level versions reach their optimal drinking window between two and five years from the harvest, top-notch versions – usually labeled as Riserva – drink well for over fifteen years.

What kind of wine is similar to Verdicchio?

Verdicchio shares the ability to age gracefully with Timorasso, Cortese (Gavi), Carricante (Etna Bianco), and Fiano: all these wines taste completely different when young but develop similar honeyed and flinty complexity with cellaring.

Riesling is another grape that is often compared to Verdicchio because of the aromas of gasoline it tends to develop with aging – although they are much more subdued than those of a top Mosel wine.

Oaked versions may also show a touch of extra earthiness and butteriness evoking barrel-aged Chardonnay.

What food does Verdicchio pair well with?

The sheer variety of styles means Verdicchio pairs well with a incredibly wide variety of dish. Here are just some of the recommended pairings.
  • Oysters and fish tartare with Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Spumante
  • Seafood risotto with unoaked Verdicchio di Matelica or Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi.
  • Mushroom risotto, tagliolini with white truffle or roasted chicken with mushrooms with Verdicchio di Castelli di Jesi Riserva or Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva.
  • Blue cheese like Gorgonzola or Stilton with Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Passito

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