Monday, May 05, 2008

The Other Montepulciano from Le Marche

There are two Montepulcianos in Italy: one is an appellation, the other is a grape. Today, I'm reviewing a wine from Le Marche that's made with that other, grapey Montepulciano. It is a delicious and affordable wine that would be perfect with any traditional Italian trattoria fare from grilled meats to pizza and pasta.

The 2005 Fattoria Laila Rosso was a very good QPR blend of Montepulciano (80%) and a bit of Sangiovese ($12.95, Chronicle Wine Cellar; find it online for between $13 and $17) Montepulciano grapes carry a lot of pigment in their skin and that gives the wine a dark, blackish-purple color that is rich and cooling. Blackberry and black cherry fruit aromas are clearly present when you uncork this wine and give it a sniff. There's more dark berry and cherry in the flavors, too, along with a bit of roasted coffee bean. The overall impression is not of enormous fruitiness, but fruit kept in check with bitter notes and acidity and a bit of spiciness in the aftertaste. It was a food-friendly wine, and we had it with some spicy chicken in red sauce with penne. Bits of chicken breast are tossed with ground fennel, pepper, and coriander and then sauteed in a pan until golden. After a quick deglaze with some leftover white wine, you simmer lots of garlic and tomatoes until the pasta is cooked, and finish it off with some basil. The wine stood up nicely to the sweet acidity of the tomatoes, and the spicy chicken picked up the nice spicy notes in the wine, as well.

Fattoria Laila is located in the hills of Ancona above the Adriatic Sea. The area's chalky soils are great for Montepulciano. The Rosso Piceno DOC covers an ancient viticultural region. Ancient writers tell us that Hannibal, at a pit-stop along the way to Rome, had his horses rubbed down with red wine from Piceno to give them more energy and strength for the last part of the journey. You can find out more about Rosso Piceno, and an earlier vintage of this wine, at The Wine Lover's Page 30-second Wine Advisor.

As with most of the Italian wines I've had so far, these little known regions and lesser known grapes are capable of combining great quality and traditional Italian flavors with a very attractive price. If you like Chianti or Nero d'Avola, give reds from Rosso Piceno a try. They may become your preferred Friday night pizza and pasta wine.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information, I would just love to try these wines.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post! I am also drinking and learning about Italian wines lately.

I recently picked up a Verdicchio from Marche and am dying to try it. It's the 2003 Azienda Agricola Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Riserva Villa Bucci and should arrive via ups in a few days. It must have a huge label to fit such a long name.

Looking forward to more posts about this unusual and under-represented areas.

BTW - wikipedia is a great resource. I was checking out thier page on regional cuisines and they list some regional dishes of Marche (and other regions) @

Just in case links not allowed - go to Wikipedia and search for "Italian Cuisine"

Anonymous said...

Wines and information about Marche Region at