Marche produces about 10.7 million cases of wine a year. That’s over 120 million bottles and you’ve probably only had one type, but didn’t realize it was from Marche: Verdicchio. Neither had I until I started exploring the region.
Of that 10.7 million, about 60% has no special “classification.” It is called vino da tavola, or table wine. Much of it is probably made for home consumption or local distribution, where a classification wouldn’t really apply.
The remaining 40% of Marche’s wine would fall into three groups, based on where it is produced and how it is made. (These classification groups are used throughout Italy and are in line with European Union practice and procedure.)
The biggest group is called DOC, Denominazione di Origine Controllata. This certification means that a wine is produced from grapes grown in a defined area, following standards of both composition and method of production. There are 15 DOCs in Marche.
Here is an example of some of the rules for Marche’s largest production red wine, Rosso Piceno:
- Varieties: 35–85% Montepulciano; 15–50% Sangiovese; maximum 15% other authorized varieties
- Minimum alcohol level: 11.5% for Rosso; 12.0% for Superiore
However, it’s important to know that DOC is not a certification of quality, but only of area and procedure.
That’s where DOCG, Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, comes in. Not only must these wines follow geographic and production standards, they must be approved by government tasters as meeting quality standards. These are the wines you see with the numbered label attached to the neck of the bottle. Marche has 5 DOCGs.
The other classified group is IGT, Indicazione Geografica Tipica. This is the most general classification, meaning the wine is produced in a way typical for the region. Marche has 1 IGT.
That makes IGT sound like average wine, but it’s not. One of the reason the classification was to allow designations like Super Tuscan, which is quality wine but doesn’t quite fit the DOC/DOCG system, for reason like blends or non-indigenous grape varieties.
Some other important terms you will hear that are combined with these classifications, which apply to some classifications but not all:
- Classico: produced in the historically significant zone within the classification. (Only 2 Marche wines have this.)
- Superiore: 0.5% higher alcohol; uses grapes grown in vineyards with a lower density of vines per hectare. (Just 1 Marche wine)
- Riserva: has longer aging requirements (2 of these, but both are separate DOCGs.)
Federdoc, a consortium of Italian wine producers, has a very nice map and chart of Marche’s wines.
Based on data from italianwinecentral.com, I put together a table of all the classified wines from Marche, showing production and principal varieties used. The two major ones are Verdicchio (white) and Montepulciano (red):
Grape image: Pixabay CC0 - No attribution required | https://pixabay.com/en/grapes-agriculture-cluster-food-16801/
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