April 29, 2017


Verdicchio is a white grape that is grown pretty much throughout the Italy, although the variety is found most often across the eastern coast of Italy, close to the Adriatic Sea. The variety has found its spiritual home in Marche, a small region on the eastern coast of Italy where Matelica and Castelli di Jesi – two of the most celebrated Verdicchio wine regions – are located. Out of these two, Castelli di Jesi is the bigger one and better known, capable of producing impressive wines in larger quantities, whereas the hillier Matelica is much smaller, resulting in equally smaller production, but also thought to be capable of producing wines of even more finesse and higher quality.

In addition to Marche, Verdicchio is grown to some extent in Umbria (the region between Marche and Tuscany) and Lazio (the region south from Tuscany, where Rome is located). Furthermore, at some point ampelographers realized that Trebbiano di Lugana (aka. Trebbiano di Soave aka. Trebbiano Valtenesi aka. Turbiana) isn't a Veronese high-quality clone of the normally rather neutral Trebbiano, but instead a variety that is genetically identical to Verdicchio. Apparently Verdicchio actually originated around the Garda lake and at some point during the 15th century winegrowers migrated south from Veneto to cultivate vines in Marche, bringing Verdicchio cuttings along with them. Currently there are over 5,300 ha (over 13,000 acres) of Verdicchio grown in Italy, of which 1,800 ha (4,450 acres) in and around Veneto.

The grapes from Veneto produce wines that are slightly different from those produced in Marche, yet with that unmistakably weighty yet refreshing character of Verdicchio. In Marche varietal Verdicchio wines are the norm, whereas in Veneto the variety is normally encountered as a varietal wine mainly in the Lugana wine region; in Soave the variety is used as an accessory grape to bring in more structure, body and perfume to the more neutral Garganega variety – although the Suavia winery produces a wonderful 100% Trebbiano di Soave called Massifitti in Soave Classico.

Although Verdicchio is not a variety that well-known and hasn't garnered much attention, it is still one of the most highly regarded Italian white varieties amongst critics and those who have at least some knowledge of Italian white wines. This is because not only are these wines delicious with their often lemony acidity and intriguing flavors suggestive of almonds and even bitter spices, but the best ones can be really impressive, serious and even capable of aging for decades.

Here is a selection of different Verdicchio wines that I have tasted through these years:


Belisario Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva Cambrugiano 2008
DOCG Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva
  • Belisario
  • Country: Italy
  • Region: Marche, Matelica
  • Grape(s): Verdicchio (100%)
  • Price: 15,00€ / 0,75
  • Tasted on: 29th of December, 2012

With 300 ha (750 acres) of vineyards, Belisario is the biggest Verdicchio producer in Matelica. Cambrugiano, in turn, is the world's first Riserva-quality Verdicchio, produced since 1988. The grapes are sourced from vineyards located at the altitude of 400 meters and only the best grapes are selected. The wine is aged for 12 months in stainless steel (80%) and in 225-liter oak barriques (20%) and another 12 months in bottles.

Deep yellow color with pale green highlights, slightly oily appearance.

The wine has an elegant, balanced and quite expressive nose with aromas of honeydew melon, pear, some yellow damson, a little almond, a hint of hay and a touch of herbal notes.

It is dry, moderately full-bodied and broad on the palate with slightly oily mouthfeel counterpointed by bright, racy acidity. There are complex flavors of dried herbs, acid-driven citrus fruits, some floral nuances, a little yellow damson and a hint of almonds with a vague undertone of vanilla.

Finally the wine finishes with a ripe, fruity and medium-long finish with harmonious flavors of exotic spices, yellow stone fruits, some minerality and a hint of almond-driven nuttiness.

In a sense this is not a "big, voluptuous and impressive" Riserva white, but instead a balanced and well-made Verdicchio, where the difference between Riserva and "normale" is evident in the addition of depth, complexity and elegance, not in bigger concentration, more ripe fruit or heavier oak influence.

Summary: Cambrugiano is a very stylish and sophisticated Verdicchio di Matelica, thoroughly enjoyable on its own, but also a lovely and versatile food wine. Definitely one of the better Verdicchios in the market and shows obvious aging potential for at least 5 years more. Tremendous value at 15€.


Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore 2009
DOC Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore
  • Azienda Agricola Villa Bucci
  • Country: Italy
  • Region: Marche, Castelli di Jesi
  • Grape(s): Verdicchio (100%)
  • Price: 15,25€ / 0,75
  • Tasted on: 27th of October, 2012

The entry-level Verdicchio of the winery. Made from organically grown grapes sourced from different parcels, all vinified separately. The Classico in the name tells that these parcels are located in the classic heartland of the Castelli di Jesi wine region, whereas the Superiore refers to the higher-than-normal alcohol content, translating to grapes of more ripeness.

Lovely golden yellow color.

A bit reticent nose with typical Verdicchio aromas of ripe citrus fruits, some pineapple-driven yellow fruit, a little almondy nuttiness, a hint of elderflower and a touch of ripe yellow damson.

Although the wine is modestly medium-bodied on the palate, it is still surprisingly broad and intense with almost oily mouthfeel. There are powerful and quite spicy flavors of almonds, fennel, aromatic herbs, some tropical and yellow fruits like mirabelle plum, unripe tangerine and starfruit, and hints of cookie dough. Good structure with racy acidity.

Very dry and quite complex finish with intense herbal notes, almond-driven nuttiness, a little hay, hints of peachy yellow fruit and a touch of steely minerality.

Overall this is a balanced, but surprisingly intense and powerful Verdicchio with lots of youthful energy. Definitely a food wine, as the wine might be too overwhelming on its own; it also needs food hearty enough to withstand the structure and the intensity of the flavor.

Summary: Drinking nicely now, but will easily develop for several years in the cellar. Recommended and a wonderful purchase at 15,25€.


Colonnara Ubaldo Rosi Riserva Spumante Metodo Classico 2007
DOC Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Superiore Spumante Riserva
  • Colonnara
  • Country: Italy
  • Region: Marche, Castelli di Jesi
  • Grape(s): Verdicchio (100%)
  • Price: 19,00€ / 0,75
  • Tasted on: 30th of April, 2014

A méthode traditionelle sparkling wine made with Verdicchio grapes made by the local quality-oriented co-operative founded in 1959. Bottle-aged for a minimum 5 years before disgorging. Hand-riddling. This bottle was disgorged in 2013.

Luminous pale green color.

Aromas of ripe apple, honeydew melon, lemon curd, some aged honeyed nuttiness, hints of floral nuances and a touch of that Verdicchio spiciness. Also, with some air, an autolytic note of French bread emerges.

On the palate the wine is very dry and really fresh with very fine, creamy mousse and medium body. There are complex flavors of fresh apple, lemon peel, some almond notes, a hint of spiciness and a touch of bitterness. Good acidity that gives the wine structure and intensity.

The finish is long, mouth-cleansing and somewhat bitter with flavors of almonds, lemon-driven citrus fruits and an autolytic hint of yeasty leesiness.

Overall this is a really attractive, albeit a very youthful and primary Spumante Riserva – I assume this wine would develop really nicely over medium-to-long term in a cellar.

Summary: Really tremendous stuff and will pair really good with light, oily dishes. Despite the age, there is definitely no hurry opening this one. Great value at 19€ – sourced straight from the winery in Marche.


San Lorenzo Vigneto delle Oche Riserva 2004
DOCG Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Riserva
  • Fattoria San Lorenzo
  • Country: Italy
  • Region: Marche, Castelli di Jesi
  • Grape(s): Verdicchio (100%)
  • Price: ~23€ / 0,75
  • Tasted on: 12th of October, 2015

Fattoria San Lorenzo is regarded some of the best producers in the Jesi region, if not the best. Although coming from a family that has grown vines and made wine for generations, San Lorenzo is a relatively newcomer, having been founded only in 1995. They make three Verdicchio wines, all that have been named by the geese (le oche) that roam in the vineyards: the entry-level wine Le Oche, the mid-tier superiore wine Campo delle Oche and the single-vineyard riserva wine, Vigneto delle Oche. This Riserva is made from organically grown grapes and it is aged first for a whopping 2 years in concrete tanks and then a further 12 months in stainless steel before it is bottled unfiltered.

Deep, moderately developed honeyed yellow color.

After having been aged for more than 10 years, the wine's bouquet betrays the age with layered aromas of nutty complexity, matured toasty notes, honeyed roasted almonds, rich candy aromas of wine gums, some cantaloupe, a hint of smoky minerality and a touch of dried apricots.

On the palate the wine feels full-bodied, obviously quite developed and very textural, yet remarkably bright and structured due to its lively acidity. The flavors are dominated by mature nutty flavors, but there are also complex notes of wildhoney, stony minerality, nectarine and some spiciness. The mouthfeel is quite weighty, waxy and somewhat concentrated by the age.

The finish is incredibly powerful, complex and developed with mature, layered nuances of roasted exotic spices, developed nuttiness, some stony minerality, a little dried peach and a hint of honey. The acidity becomes even more pronounced towards the end of the aftertaste, making the wine end on a bright, lively and mouthwatering note.

This might just be the most impressive Verdicchio I've ever tasted, stylistically getting very close to an aged high-quality Burgundy white, yet still with unmistakably Italian flair. Stunning, really.

Summary: This wine is really a testament to how the best Verdicchios (riservas, usually) not only age really well, but actually require surprisingly much age just to show their potential. This wine also shows how oak aging isn't really necessary to make impressive, weighty and age-worthy whites. Young vintages of this wine can be found for as low as 15€, but with any luck one might be able to source these older vintages for approx 25€. At less than 25€ this wine shows simply ridiculous value.


Sartarelli Balciana 2009
DOC Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore
  • Sartarelli
  • Country: Italy
  • Region: Marche, Castelli di Jesi
  • Grape(s): Verdicchio (100%)
  • Price: ~30,00€ / 0,75
  • Tasted on: 12th of October, 2015

The flagship wine of the Sartarelli range, made from the grapes sourced from the highly esteemed vineyard located in Contrada Balciana. The grapes here ripen extremely slowly and the harvest can go on as late as mid-November in some years. In the coolest years the grapes can't reach optimum ripeness at all and the vintage is completely skipped. The wine sees only stainless steel and glass bottles during the aging, total annual production can reach approx. 15,000 bottles at the highest.

Moderately developed, pale golden yellow color.

Surprisingly dry and savory nose with some smoky aged character, revealing layered nuances of bruised cider apple, exotic spices, ripe stone fruits, some toasty matured notes and hints of aged nuttiness.

Despite the vintage 2009, which is generally regarded as pretty hot throughout Europe, the wine feels medium-to-moderately full-bodied on the palate with balanced, racy acidity that cuts nicely through the rich fruit. Overall the wine feels remarkably fresh and crisp with intense, but surprisingly little-developed flavors of citrus fruits, ripe red apple, cantaloupe, some spicy almondy character and sweeter hints of exotic fruits and apricots.

The wine finishes on a tightly-knit and structured, but more developed note with flavors of yellow stone fruits, some red apple, a little honeydew melon, a hint of exotic spices and a touch of roasted almonds.

For a Verdicchio at 6 years of age, Balciana 2009 feels remarkably young and fresh, apparently aging only at a glacial pace. A remarkable powerhouse for a Verdicchio.

Summary: You can really taste the concentration, power and potential here and, as this vintage testifies, there is no point opening a wine this impressive yet. Most likely the wine will start to exhibit more mature character only after 10 or so years and hits its stride really at 15–20 years of age, so there is no point opening these wines yet. Truly a remarkable example of what Verdicchio can produce in Marche.


Sartarelli Tralivio 2010
DOC Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore
  • Sartarelli
  • Country: Italy
  • Region: Marche, Castelli di Jesi
  • Grape(s): Verdicchio (100%)
  • Price: 13,00€ / 0,75
  • Tasted on: 12th of October, 2015

The mid-tier Verdicchio of Sartarelli, made solely from selected grapes of their oldest vineyards. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. Annual production approx. 90,000 bottles.

Somewhat developed peachy yellow color.

Quite rich and complex nose with aromas of ripe yellow stone fruits, yellow gummy bear candies, some developed waxy notes with fruit that is taking on a sweet marmalade edge, hints of almondy nuttiness and a touch of mature creamy / buttery character.

On the palate the wine feels moderately full-bodied and even a bit oily, yet also high in acidity giving the wine even somewhat crisp bite and good, robust structure. There are flavors of citrusy fruit, some exotic spice, modest stony minerality, a little developed honey character and light hints of crushed almonds. Overall the wine feels that is has concentrated a bit with the age, becoming somewhat weighty and rich, yet still carrying that lemony acidity typical of the variety.

The wine finishes with a long, rich and powerful aftertaste of ripe citrus fruits, sweet red apple, some stony minerality, a little exotic spice and hints of almond.

Overall this is a surprisingly serious, rich and structured Verdicchio that is already starting to show some signs of age with some sense of concentration and honeyed fruit, yet the wine is remarkably fresh and taut like a wine that was bottled only yesterday.

Summary: Very impressive effort that is at 5 years of age only suggesting of the potential the wine can show with age. Obviously a white meant for the long haul. No reason to open any time soon, even though the wine is drinking quite nicely already – it would be just waste of potential. Stunning value at only 13€.


Suavia Massifitti 2010
IGT Bianco Veronese
  • Suavia
  • Country: Italy
  • Region: Veneto, Soave Classico
  • Grape(s): Trebbiano di Soave (Verdicchio) (100%)
  • Price: 11,90€ / 0,75
  • Tasted on: 24th of April, 2014

Often people seem to think that Massifitti is a Soave Classico, but as it is a 100% Trebbiano di Soave aka. Turbiana aka. Verdicchio, it can't be labeled as such – instead this is an IGT Bianco Veronese. Its first vintage was 2008, so this is only the 3rd vintage of the wine ever made. Aged for 15 months sur lie in stainless steel with a part of wine undergoing MLF. After the tank aging the wine is lightly filtered and then bottled in these distinctive potato masher bottles in which the wine is aged for a further 15 months. Annual production is only 3000 bottles.

Luminous youthful green color.

Very expressive, rich and attractive nose with lots of ripe fruits such as sweet citrus fruits, honeydew melon, peach and apple purée along with pronounced notes of wet stone minerality, some understated spiciness and a touch of floral aromatics.

On the palate the wine is quite full-bodied and rich with moderate concentration, but almost bone-dry and very structured as well, thanks to its bracing, focused acidity and rough stony minerality that supports the weighty core of ripe apple, pronounced spiciness and pithy lemon notes. Great freshness with very modest alcohol (12,5%) – the wine feels surprisingly light for such a big wine.

The finish is full of apple and stony minerality, but with more focus on tart, green apple notes that turn towards quinine mineral bitterness towards the end.

Although not technically a Soave, this is hands down one of the most impressive wines produced in the Soave Classico region. Truly a showcase of the potential what Trebbiano di Soave can attain in right terroir with sensible winemaking.

Summary: Massifitti shows a tremendous combination of richness and focused freshness. This is most likely a wine that'll age nicely for years, but it is drinking so nicely right now that keeping bottles in a cellar and not touching them would be a chore! Ridiculously amazing value at only 11,90€.


Zenato Lugana Riserva Sergio Zenato 2008
DOC Lugana Riserva
  • Zenato
  • Country: Italy
  • Region: Lombardy / Veneto, Lugana
  • Grape(s): Trebbiano di Lugana (Verdicchio) (100%)
  • Price: 23,90€ / 0,75
  • Tasted on: 17th of October, 2011

The flagship white wine of Zenato, a famed producer located by the Garda lake. Made from the best Trebbiano di Lugana grapes sourced from the Lugana wine region, located at the border of Lombardy and Veneto at the southern shore of the lake Garda; the wine is fermented in 5,000-liter oak casks and 300-liter tonneaux (70%) and stainless steel (30%). Aged for 6 months in oak tonneaux and 12 months in bottles before release.

Deep golden yellow color.

Very open, floral and fruity nose with notes of honey, butterscotch and ripe tropical fruits – especially pear and overripe pineapple.

The taste is somewhat lighter and more restrained after the generous nose. On the palate the wine is round, supple and full-bodied, toasted and slightly spicy with some alcoholic heat. Oak is well integrated with brief notes of vanilla and butterscotch complementing the ripe apple notes of the mid-palate. Wine seems to lack acidity, resulting in very full body and sensation of sweetness with the ripe fruits, but also resulting in some lack of structure, energy and focus.

The wine finishes pretty short with notes of spicy oak and ripe tropical fruits.

Overall the wine is pleasant with an elegant taste and and complex aromatics, but it is also a bit heavy and unstructured – for example with its modest acidity, I don't know how well the wine can survive heavier dishes.

Summary: Though quite weighty and serious for a Lugana wine, the wine is somewhat lacking focus and brightness, feeling a bit too modern and overdone. To me, the wine is best served quite well chilled, paired with spicy Asian kitchen, or enjoyed on its own. I think it feels a tad too pricey at 23,90€.

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