Along the superhighway of Italian wine, Le Marche is a side road. Set at the eastern end of central Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea, Le Marche is a quiet place where few travelers venture beyond Urbino, its Renaissance-rich town, and its beaches. But while its region is relatively unheralded, even the casual wine drinker is aware of its major white wine, Verdicchio; and the more dedicated wine lover knows the surprising pleasures of its reds.
Many of those pleasures emanate from Umani Ronchi. Founded in the late 1950s and still owned by the Bianchi-Bernetti family, its wines epitomize what can be created from the region’s own grapes — Verdicchio for whites and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo for reds.
Umani Ronchi’s Verdicchio, found in the United States under the appellation Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi ($17), begins with Casal di Serra Classico Superiore, a straw-yellow, fruity wine with a floral aroma and silky texture. Its Vecchie Vigne Casal di Serra Verdicchio ($35) is made in limited quantity from vines that are more than 40 years old and produce a bright yellow, crisp, elegant wine with the sumptuous aroma of ripe melon and a medium-long finish. A third Umani Ronchi Verdicchio is a riserva named Plenio ($35). It takes its name from the Latin word “plenum,” to denote its complexity and fullness, and is made from the finest grapes of each harvest. And indeed, it is rich and round with crisp acidity and good aging ability.
Umani Ronchi’s reds are made wholly or primarily from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a dark-skinned grape grown widely in central and southern Italy and with no relationship to the town of Montepulciano in Tuscany. Notable among these wines is Umani Ronchi’s Cúmaro ($42), a 100 percent Montepulciano wine of deep shading, a strong aroma of black fruits with a touch of black pepper and soft tannins made from a careful selection of grapes grown in the historic vineyard area of Conero. Pelago ($65), a blend of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Cabernet Sauvignon with 10 percent Merlot, is especially complex, deep and intense. Consider the current vintage, 2007, as the glory of Umani Ronchi in a glass.
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