Posted by: tomciocco | November 2, 2010


At least in theory, I’ve always thought that the Central Italian appellations whose regulations allow them to work with Montepulciano and Sangiovese have THE FINEST raw materials on the entire peninsula to eventually squirt into a bottle, and I stand by it.  Rosso Piceno from the Marche is one of those appellations.

Probably more for good than ill, Rosso Piceno stamps a gigantic footprint – about one half of  the entire area of the Marche region. Lots of land to farm means (at least potentially) lots of expressive terroirs in and on which to make high quality expressive wine. The disciplinare allows for 35%-70% Montepulciano, 30%-50% Sangiovese, and up to 15% other (non-aromatic) local varieties to complete the blend. Though ultimately I might like to see a bigger allowance for Sangiovese (which despite its inimitability, gets “shy” around burlier and more brooding grapes), Montepulciano has always been more important in Marche, and the allowance for Sangiovese to comprise as much as half of the overall blend gives it at least a bit of space to really express itself. The “free” 15% selected from local varieties give producers a chance to add a unique local accent to the finished wine. These, unlike the regulations of some other appellations, are well written.

What the exact blend in this wine is, I’m not sure, but it’s clear by both the color and the nose, that Montepulciano represents some majority of the mix, but with the first sip, the Sangiovese slices through nevertheless…This is a “modern” style wine, with a fairly deep extraction, and 12-18 months spent in barriques, none of which are new (2nd and 3rd passage). This ia wine that while it does not unequivocally exalt its terroir, it doesn’t obliterate it either, and one that ultimately remains quite true to the respective natures of the Twin Titans…

The wine went to the table with an exclusively ex-fridge/pantry dinner:  a risotto with endive, tomato, and peas, and a frittata with (leftover roasted) potatoes, leeks, thyme, and three cheeses…

Velenosi Rosso Piceno “Brecciarolo” 2007

Deeply saturated violet purple color. Very complex nose of black plums, Play-Doh, wood spice, cocoa, barn yard, black currant and dried floral notes. In the mouth the wine is texturally smooth and taut, with fine but prominent tannins, and slick but still earthy flavors of mushroom, sour watermelon candy, and sour cherry. The finish is a complex flavor echo of the palate as a whole. 


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