Colleleva Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2020
Grown on the outer limits of the fortified village of Jesi, this traditional Verdicchio—as green and crisp as it sounds—is vinified in cool, stainless-steel tanks and bottled with the gentlest spritz of naturally occurring carbon dioxide to minimize sulfur use. If bitter lime notes from more familiar grapes like Grüner Veltliner and coastal Vermentino appeal to you, this low-alcohol, youthful bianco will readily rinse your palate clean and complement delicate fare like crudo and Meyer lemon risotto. There is a subtle, chalky texture that reminds one of much pricier French Chablis.
The vineyards of Colleleva (Colle “hill”, and si Leva, “rises”) lie on the heights of the Marche: about halfway between the Apennine mountains and the coastline of the Adriatic Sea. The combination of eastern sun exposure and the cooling winds from the Adriatic provide an optimal microclimate for balancing ripeness with fresh acidity in the grapes. Verdicchio, also known as Trebbiano di Soave, has been cultivated in the Marche for many centuries. It is capable of making vibrantly fresh and crisp white wines that are a wonderful accompaniment to seafood. The Riserva bottlings can age gracefully. From Colleleva we have a wine in the former camp. During a tasting trip in the Marche, their stainless steel tank vinified Verdicchio was one of the stars among many, many wines tasted. The perfume is entrancing—at once fresh and rounded, and typical of the grape. There is absolutely no pretension. Pure Verdicchio, vinified and aged with no makeup, with a bit of prickly CO2 left in the bottle to keep it sprightly.
The rare Lacrima di Morro d’Alba–presumably named for the teardrop-like shape of its berries– nearly went extinct before being revived by a handful of vignerons in the 1980s. Lucky for us, they salvaged this gem of a variety, which reaches an aromatic expression that, next to any other red wine, feels like stepping into technicolor for the first time.
Stretching along Italy’s eastern coast with neighbors, Umbria to its west and Abruzzo to its south, Marche is a region with a varying climate from north to south. Its coastal plains roll into hills that become the Apennine Mountains, which run the length of the country. The Marche's best red wines come from the grapes, Montepulciano and Sangiovese; the local Verdicchio makes refreshing, crisp and light whites.
One of central Italy’s classic white grapes, Verdicchio thrives in two distinct zones of the Marche. The best vineyards of Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi adorn hillsides a mere 20 miles from the Adriatic Sea. The vineyards of the smaller, more inland Verdicchio di Matelica, are at higher elevation. Somm Secret—Recent genetic discoveries have proven that the Verdicchio grape is identical to Trebbiano di Soave, Trebbiano di Lugana and Trebbiano Veltenesi.