Marotti Campi "family" cultivates about 120 hectares of vineyards in the
Marches region. Drive well inland (west, or you'll get wet) from Ancona
and you're in the land of Verdicchio.
- The patriarch of the family worked in Europe for Seagram's and retired
some years ago. His sons run the business of the vineyard and
cellar. The 1999 vintage was the first commercial harvest for the
But Marotti Campi, though they do make Verdicchio, routinely catches our
attention with a red wine of unique character. It's made of a grape
called "Lacrima di Morro d'Alba." Morro d'Alba is a small
village north of Jesi, the famous center of Verdicchio production.
Some people are easily confused (me being a prime example) and might expect
a wine that has the "d'Alba" on the label to come from Northern
Italy's Piemonte region. That's not the case.
- The Lacrima di Morro d'Alba grape was dying out. In the 1980s
there were but 5 hectares. The government granted the wine its own
"DOC" and by 1999 there were some 50 hectares planted.
Today there are about 200 hectares.
variety is viewed a bit like Beaujolais, particularly amongst Italian wine
geeks. They tend to have the idea that this wine is not capable of
cellaring well. Most will advise you to drink the wine within
a year or two of the vintage. We have had a different experience and
learned that Marotti Campi's wood-aged wine is specifically to demonstrate
this can be aged in wood and cellared for some years.
What makes this wine so wild is that it's wonderfully aromatic. The
color is fairly dark ruby. The nose is amazing, being more reminiscent
of a good Gewürztraminer than of any normal red wine you've ever
encountered. The fragrance is of rose petals and
grapefruit. It's a dry, medium-bodied red wine. Oak is not
present in this wine. We like serving it lightly chilled to cellar
temp. It's a great picnic red and pairs with all sorts of
well-seasoned foods. The current 2010 vintage is dark in color and
teeming with fragrances.
"Blue Label" is matured in wood, though they claim they use
seasoned cooperage which is more neutral. We find a "woodsy"
component to the way, however. It's an interesting recipe, a some of
the juice is fermented along the lines of Beaujolais and some undergoes a
more classical red wine fermentation. The two lots are blended and
then matured for some months in oak. We find the "Orgiolo"
bottling to be fuller and deeper. It's delicious and a great bottle to
share with wine geek friends who think they know everything about
everything. This wine is so far off the beaten path, only a few have
trodden that walkway.
Marotti says many of his competitors are now making Lacrima di Morro
d'Alba which they mature for a year or two in wood. Having seen the
success of the Marotti Campi wines, it's no wonder!
I have to take another look at the Verdicchio wines here. I have not
paid much attention to these, but I tasted two bottlings of their 1999
vintage. At six and a half years of age, these were good. The
one which had been bottled after the summer of 2000 was extraordinary,
reminding me of good French white Burgundy that's not been exposed to much
Marotti explained the aging "graph" for Verdicchio is
curious. "It starts out improving and, then after a couple of
years it seems as though it's finished. But it's merely
'down.' We are surprised to open some after a few more years only to
find the wines are really good.
have a new item...a sparkling, sweet wine made of Lacrima di Moro
It's called XYRIS.
What a name!
To explain, though: Xyris is a botanical name for a family of little plants
in the yellow-eyed grass family. That explains the various little
flowers depicted on the bottle.
I had made a sorbet from Marotti Campi's Lacrima di M oro d'Alba and when
Bob tasted the sparkling wine he commented that it reminded him of my
The wine is dark in color and very fruity...more so on the palate than the
fragrance. I found it a bit less aromatic than their red
- Currently in stock: MAROTTI CAMPI 2010 Lacrima di Moro d'Alba SALE
MAROTTI CAMPI 2002 "Orgiolo" (Blue Label) Lacrima di Moro d'Alba
MAROTTI CAMPI "Xyris" (Sweet, Bubbly Lacrima di Moro d'Alba)
LUNCH OUT ON
THE COAST AT SAVINI
A few photos of lunch with Signor Marotti
in Senigallia at a lovely restaurant.
is Verdicchio and there is Verdicchio.
Actually, there are two somewhat different Verdicchio wines
produced in the Marche region of Central Italy.
The more famous of the two is Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi
which comes from an area close to Ancona and influenced by the Adriatic
sea. The most famous, for many years, was that of the
"factory" called Fazi-Battaglia, whose wine came in an
- The less famous appellation is Verdicchio di Matelica, a region of
higher altitude and somewhat cooler climate. It's a short drive if
you're in Umbria and there are no huge estates cranking out millions of
bottles of this, so it's a wine that's a bit unknown except to serious
fans of Italian wines.
Colle Stefano is a small estate. Fabio and Silvia Marchionni
have maybe 4 hectares of vineyards and produce a small amount of
wine. Fabio had spent some time in Germany, learning about organic
farming and precision in winemaking. He returned home in 1998 and
embarked on working the family estate. Today his wine is one of the
most respected in the Marche and we're delighted to have some bottles in
the shop here in Burlingame.
- I had received a letter (years ago) from Silvia who asked about our
interest in their wine. I forwarded it to a local importer who's a
fuss-budget (like us) and he liked the wine well enough to bring some
over. Today it's one of the cornerstones of his importing enterprise
and he buys a significant percentage of the Colle Stefano
production. Now the Marchionni family's wine is featured in
all sorts of 'hot' dining spots in the Bay Area, as well as in our little
- The 2011 is delicious! This is a crisp,
light wine which is not subjected to oak aging, so you won't be picking
splinters out of your tongue. This is a lovely aperitif and it pairs
handsomely with seafood and light starters. Oysters? Grilled
prawns?? You get the idea...
Currently in stock: 2011 COLLE STEFANO Verdicchio
di Matelica $16.99
Fabio and Silvia
- Moncaro is a
major source of wines from the Marche region and it's a grower's
cooperative company with three wineries.
One facility is in Camerano, another in Acquaviva and the place I visited
is in Montecarotto. They produce a range of typical Marchegiana
wines, especially Verdicchio, Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno. There
are approximately 1000 growers whose grapes comprise the Moncaro wines and
they have something close to 1700 hectares of vineyards. It's a big
company--they make more than 7 million bottles of wine annually, plus sell
in bulk to other wineries.
The firm was founded in 1964 and I was amused to hear so many of the
neighboring wineries speak so well of Moncaro. Often you'll hear
disparaging remarks about competitors, but I found numerous vintners from
the Marche to be quite complimentary when discussing this winery.
They make more than 2 dozen wines. We are interested in just two of
them, as these arrive in the Bay Area at attractive prices and the wines
are well-made and offer good value.
- We have a great little entry-level Verdicchio Classico "Terre
Cortesi" in the old-fashioned, amphora-shaped bottle. The wine
is 100% Verdicchio and it's made in a modern style, so you won't find any
oak here. It's also made for European wine drinkers, meaning they
ferment it totally dry. Ten bucks makes this a good deal.
Seafood, light pastas, salads, chicken, etc., will all pair nicely with
Also of note is a delightful, medium-bodied red made of Sangiovese.
And unlike wine producers who make expensive bottles of Sangiovese in
Tuscany's Montalcino appellation, Moncaro fully admits it
"fortifies" the wine with 15% Montepulciano. Try eliciting
this admission from a Brunello producer who's asking you to drop a $50 or
Is this as good as a Brunello di Montalcino?
Of course not. It costs all of $6.99 a bottle and it's vinified to
be drinkable in its youth, not displayed in a trophy case in a museum.
We suggest serving it at cool cellar temperature. Pair it with a
pizza, sausages, tomato-sauced pastas, roasted chicken, etc. It
won't break the bank and it tastes more expensive than it costs.
Currently in stock: MONCARO 2008 VERDICCHIO
MONCARO SANGIOVESE (list $9) Sold Out
The Moncaro tasting room in Montecarotto...
- About 80 kilometers south of Ancona is where you will find the town of Ripatransone
in the Marche region. As you drive along the coast you pass through
towns that are well off the beaten path for American tourists. I can
only imagine this region will soon be "on the map" as visitors
discover its charms.
family owns this property, producing a range of nice wines, capped by a
prestige bottling called Nero di Vite.
Giovanni and Luigi run the estate, having assumed the reigns from their
father, Raffaele. The first vintage to be bottled was the 1988, but
Giovanni says they didn't get serious until 1992.
The region has some ties to Michelangelo, as it's the birthplace of the
artist's biographer and student Ascanio Condivi. There's some trivia
Michelangelo called his favorite tone of red paint "Rosso
Bello." The Vagnoni's use that name for their Rosso Piceno
- From their balcony at the winery you can see all the way to the
coast. This is about 4 kilometers in the distance.
- Rosso Bello...Lucrezia (named after Giovanni's oldest
daughter)..."Io Sono Gaia...Non sono Lucrezia" is another white
wine with a label designed by Vagnoni's second daughter. It's a
deep, powerful dry white made of Pecorino. Morellone is a
blend of 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese.
Nero di Vite is their top-of-the-line red wine. It's a Rosso Piceno
wine and is produced solely in top vintages.
It's a deep, dark, full-bodied red made of 50% Sangiovese and 50%
Montepulciano in the 2001 vintage.
The Sangiovese vines are 40-something years old. They pass through
the vineyard three times during the harvest, picking only the best and
ripest fruit each time.
The skins are macerated for a long time with the juice, typically for at
least one month! This, of course, helps create some power and the
resulting wine is then matured in French oak for about 18 months, maybe
longer. The 2001 shows black fruit aromas and cedary, woodsy
tones from the oak. It's a mouthful and can be paired this evening
with grilled or roasted red meats. I'd expect this to cellar well
for another 5 years, maybe more. Best to drive it too young than too
Currently in stock: 2001 LE CANIETTE Rosso Piceno
"Nero di Vite" $49.99 (last bottle or two)
- The Mariani
family used to own a prominent estate in the Montefalco region, but with
sluggish sales and little demand for the fruit in the early 1990s, they
sold the place.
In the interim, Francesco Mariani had grown up and worked in several
restaurants in Italy, but he still had "wine in his blood" and a
desire to combine both wine and food.
The family purchased a small property in the Turri area, just south east
of beautiful downtown Montefalco. The 12 hectare estate is planted
with 10 hectares of vineyards, 4 for "Rosso" and 6 for
At some point, Francesco wants to have, I gather, a sort of small
restaurant or trattoria near the winery to combine his passion for each.
The estate is called Raina, as that was the nickname of an old
fellow who had owned the property and farmed it. In his honor, they use
the name Raina for the wines.
As it's a new winery, the first vintage of Sagrantino was matured entirely in
brand new oak. As a result, if you like the first vintage, you may be
surprised by the radical change in style of the second...it was matured using
merely 20% new barrels.
The Montefalco Rosso, a Sangiovese blended with a bit of Sagrantino and Merlot,
is very nice and a good alternative to Chianti wines.
The 2007 Sagrantino is an impressive and showy red wine. It's from a warm
vintage, so the alcohol level is a bit elevated. We find the wine to be
worthy of comparison with Caprai's "25 Anni" Sagrantino, though
Raina's is half the price.
It's dark in color and shows lots of black fruit aromas. Woodsy, cedary
and lavishly oaked, this is moderately tannic, so pairing it with red meat or a
selection of cheeses is ideal.
Currently in stock: 2007 RAINA Sagrantino di
I drove into Montefalco to a favorite shop, picked up some bottles of
Sagrantino from neighboring estates to taste with Francesco & Chiara,
along with some local prosciutto and salame.
Francesco prepared a little pasta...a nice combination with his red
We liked his wines along with the Milziade Antano Sagrantino...
TORRE DEI BEATI
winery may be run by a couple of saints, but I don't know them well enough
to say, for certain.
Faustus Albanesi and his wife Adriana Galassi. Her father had
planted some vineyards in the early 1970s and when she and her hubby were
working as sommeliers, dad gifted the couple with 10 hectares of
"That'll keep them out of trouble." said Pop.
Having an idea of what good wine should taste like, the couple seems to be
hell-bent of making stellar wines. They cultivate their vineyards
employing organic farming practices and we understand they're fanatics
about picking the fruit at just the right moment during harvest season.
Today the estate comprises some 21 hectares of vineyards and they have a
new winemaking facility. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is their focus, but
we've found a rather enchanting white wine made of the Pecorino grape.
The vineyards have a clay and limestone soil. Yields are relatively
small and they strive to pick the grapes at the optimum level of
ripeness. Most of the juice is fermented in stainless steel, with a
small portion seeing oak.
We like the pear notes along with some white flower fragrances and
flavors. The wine is, of course, dry. You'll get a sense of
wood in the background, but it's not the focal point of this
Currently in stock: 2010 TORRE DEI BEATI
is one of your best friends in the world of Sagrantino. File that
name away, won't you, please?
The reason we mention this is Antonelli makes really good, classic
Sagrantino and he sells his wine for an honest and sensible price, unlike
some of his "Napa Valley" neighbors.
The estate, known as San Marco de Corticellis, was owned by the church
from the 13th century until fairly recently...well, 1881 when Francesco
Antonelli bought the property. He was a lawyer in nearby Spoleto and
thought, like a lot of lawyers, "Wouldn't it be great to be in the
It took them a while, though, to have the idea of actually
bottling and selling wine. This notion hit them in 1979, so nearly a
hundred years before someone had a brainstorm!
The Antonelli's have, for the most part, been lawyers. The
current owner is Filippo Antonelli and his mom must have said a few choice words
and "dio mio!" when Filippo decided to focus on the wine business and
leave the lawyering for others.
They have 40 hectares on the property, grapevines being planted on the higher
elevations and on the slopes, leaving the flatlands for cultivating grain.
The vineyards are mature, ranging in age from 15 to 30 years. In addition
to Sagrantino and Sangiovese, there's a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and
Montepulciano in reds and Grechetto and Trebbiano Spoletino for whites.
The vineyards, by the way, are organically farmed.
Total production tallies to 300,000 bottles annually.
I know he's proud of his wines, but maybe even a bit
prouder of these two Antonellis...
Filippo and his father...
The cellars have a variety of cooperage...
...and more traditional large tanks.
Antonelli produces something like 9 different wines. We
carry, presently, just the normal bottling of Sagrantino.
The current vintage is their 2006. The juice spends about two to three
weeks in contact with the skins. Sagrantino can have a fair bit of tannin,
so if you're a fan of sweet Rieslings, Moscato or Beaujolais, you'll definitely
be in for a surprise when you open a bottle of this!
The young wine goes first into small oak (puncheons) for half a year before
being racked into those large, fairly neutral wood tanks for another 12
months. After that, they rack the wine into cement vats for a few months
You can certainly enjoy the 2006 now, if you like. With its fair bit of
astringency, though, pairing the wine with lamb, duck, a well-marbled steak or
something fairly substantial is ideal. That helps cut the tannin and the
wine simply tastes better. But these can age handsomely and holding a
bottle or two of Antonelli's wine for another five or ten years ain't a bad
As noted above, some of the rock stars of Montefalco affix large price tags to
their wines. I know Filippo is a bit envious of their apparent
success. But as I explained to him there's a difference in the
wines: "Yours actually sell and we replace the sold bottles with more
stock. Theirs collect dust and we routinely have to polish the
Currently in stock: 2006 ANTONELLI Sagrantino di
VAST SOUTHERN REGION
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