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Grape variety

IL VERDICCHIO



Verdicchio is considered one of the most important white grape varieties in Italy and Le Marche is its land of election. With regard to its origins, its appearance in Le Marche is hypothesised as a result of the settlement in the region of some of the settlers from the Veneto area, who came to repopulate it following a terrible epidemic of the plague. This hypothesis is supported by recent genetic studies that prove that there is a very strong kinship between the Verdicchio, Trebbiano di Soave and Trebbiano di Lugana grapes, renowned grape varieties from Veneto. The history of Verdicchio is rooted in very ancient times but, despite the fact that it was already known by the ancient Romans, the first evidence of a wine made from its grapes dates back to 410 A.D. when, toward the height of the crisis of the Roman Empire, our peninsula was overrun by hordes of barbarians. It seems that Alaric, king of the Visigoths, who headed toward Rome with the objective of sacking it, first passed through the vicinity of the castles of Jesi to stock up on barrels of the ancestor of today’s Verdicchio because nothing else, according to him, gave to his men as much “sanitade et bellico vigor”.



Ampelographically, it is a vigorous grape variety with middle-late ripening, which has clusters of medium-large size, winged and pyramid-shaped, with medium compactness. The grapes are medium in size with a spherical shape and have skins of thin consistency with a yellow-greenish colour. The yields are on average low, but constant. It thrives in hilly areas and usually does not have particular soil requirements, but the soil mixture of clay and limestone considerably improves its organoleptic properties.

PASSERINA

Passerina is a white-graped autochthonous grape variety of central Italy, whose exact origin is disputed between the province of Frosinone and the Le Marche region. This contention is due to the fact that it is a very ancient grape variety, cultivated in the whole of central Italy, albeit with different synonyms. The experts however all are inclined toward the hypothesis of the Le Marche region. As for genealogy, it belongs to the family of the Trebbiano grape varieties, and it has often been confused with them, as well as with Bombino Bianco. Passerina unfortunately has experienced the intense competition of Trebbiano Toscano, which provides considerably higher yields and greater resistance to adversities, and which is noted as one of the most cultivated grape varieties in the world, especially since the Second World War. It has undergone decades of great crisis, starting in the 1960s, when it a great amount of it was uprooted in favour of Trebbiano Toscano, more vigorous and productive, but of lesser quality. The curious name comes from the sparrows (called passeri in Italian) who are fond of its small grapes, given that the pulp seems to be of special quality. In recent years, thanks to the adoption of denomination of origin, it is finding itself once again in the limelight, often combined with the Pecorino grape variety but also on its own. The Passerina grape variety presents itself with pyramid-shaped clusters of medium-large size, at times winged, with medium or loose density, it also has good vigor and constant yields. Its ripening comes at mid-season, usually at the end of September.

MONTEPULCIANO

This grape variety, always in conflict for its name with the homonymous Tuscan town, presents and gives rise to different versions on its introduction. There is one that in the early nineteenth century, thanks to a traveller coming from Tuscany, introduced the Montepulciano grape variety to Abruzzo; and then the version where the historian Michele Troia dates it back to the eighteenth century, due to the presence of its name in writing, confirming that the Montepulciano grape variety was born in the Peligna Valley. A famous legend is also told by the Greek-Roman historian Polybius, stating that the army of the Carthaginian commander Hannibal drank this wine produced in Abruzzo, as well as using it to heal wounded soldiers and to wash their horses, claiming that it had properties that healed their scabies. Hannibal was held prisoner for many years in Rome. Another who writes and makes reference to this wine is Ovid in “Metamorphoses”, celebrating the beauty of the vineyards of the Peligna Valley (from which the grape variety of Montepulciano historically comes). The morpho-physiology is distinguished for the prostrate position of the foliage and the internodes of the short branches, characteristics that imply a complicated management during the period of vegetative growth. This grape variety was subject the attack of the phylloxera in the 1920s and in a few years the extension and the quality of the plant were drastically reduced.

SANGIOVESE

“Sangiovese is to Italy as Cabernet is to France: they are wines that express the wine.growing and wine identity of a country”. (Giacomo Tachis), Sangiovese is the undisputed king of wines in central Italy, where it is present virtually in every area, and in its many clonal varieties it continues to prove its indisputable quality, thanks also to the various expressions of the territories in which it is grown. Ampelographers believe that the place of origin of Sangiovese is the Apennines area between Tuscany and Romagna, areas where still today it remains the most important grape for red wine. The origin and provenance of Sangiovese is very difficult to identify: accurate information on one of the most popular and widely grown grape varieties in Italy is very fragmentary and unreliable. In order to obtain information regarding it, we must wait for the sixteenth century, when Soderini, in 1590, describes it in his treatise “The cultivation of vines” saying that: “Sangiocheto or Sangioveto is a remarkable grape variety for its regular productivity”. But it is believed that the famous grape was already known more than 2000 years ago and it was used by the Etruscans for their wine production. The origin of the name is also uncertain and the assumptions are many: some claim it derives from San Giovanni, others instead from dialectal forms (from “san giovannina”, very early grape, given its early budding), others swear that it derives from the blood of Jupiter (Sanguis Jovis). In Le Marche it is historically used in combination with the Montepulciano variety, since it is able to bring to it acidity, freshness and tannins.