By Jack Polidori
Vernaccia di Serapetrona DOCG: At the beginning of 20th century, less than 50 acres of Vernaccia Nera grape was cultivated. Today, there are about 90 acres, virtually all of them in Marche Region in the tiny Serrapetrona zone found in the westernmost part of Macerata Province in the foothills of the majestic Apennine Mountains. The Vernaccia Nera is used to produce a rare, sparkling red wine is generally made as a sweet or semi-sweet dessert wine, but can also be made in a dry style. The spumante is achieved through multiple fermentations using both fresh and dried (passito) grapes. The first fermentation uses half of the grapes hand-picked in October; the remainder are dried on straw mats and added to the wine in January for its second fermentation. The third stage occurs after the wine has rested for a few months, and is then put into autoclaves (the Italian name for the sealed tanks used). The end result is an intensely aromatic wine displaying a raspberry-red color, a bouquet of sweet red fruits such as strawberries and cranberries with a hint of spice, firm tannins, and bright acidity. The secco version makes a handsome partner for prosciutto, salami, dried sausages, and cheeses, while the sweeter style is best with desserts. The Vernaccia Nera Spumante from Alberto Quacquarini is the finest; the dolce version is presently for sale at select PLCB stores or through special online order.
Offida Pecorino DOCG: Known lovingly as the “white wine in the red dress,” the Pecorino grape was essentially brought back to life by the late Guido Cocci Grifoni of Ripatransone in the late 1980s. His surviving wife and two daughters continue the tradition of producing one of the very finest pecorino wines in Italy. But many other producers subsequently have planted in the ensuing two years making the Province of Ascoli Piceno the leading Italian producer of pecorino grapes. The pecorino wine can run the gamut from lighter to more-full bodied, and offers itself beautifully as an accompaniment to seafood, poultry, and quite beautifully with many pork dishes. Plus, the pecorino wine allows for cellar storage for up to three or four years.
Mercantino from Cantina dei Colli Ripani and the Villa Piatti Pecorino and Nature (organic, minimum filtration) from Collevite, are outstanding and widely different presentations of the Pecorino wine.
Offida Passerina DOCG: Passerina is a rare local white grape that is found mostly in the Marche region. The grapes ripen with a high level of natural sugars as well as high acidity which leads to light, but balanced wine with a clean, crisp finish. The Passerina wine greets you with a light, lovely bouquet of tropical flowers and offers subtle grapefruit and green apple accents. Passerina wines from the Marche a bit crisper due to their minerality and thus present clean, crisp finish making them a particularly beautiful accompaniment to the delicate seafood dishes found along the Adriatic coast of the region. The Lajella produced by Cantina dei Colli Ripani is an excellent example and is currently available through select PLCB store or special online order.
Falerio and Falerio Pecorino DOCG: These are two different blends that combine local Trebbiano, Passerina, and Pecorino grapes. It is very common in the case of the Falerio Pecorino to have as much as 100% Pecorino. This blend is lighter bodied when compared to the usual Offida Pecorino comprised always of 100% Pecorino grapes. IAH
Jack Polidori is president of Piceno LLC, an Italian wine import company based in Wilmington. Piceno LLC wines can be found in Wilmington at Ward’s Fine Wines and also through the stores of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. For more information, visit www.picenowines.com.