Every so often, we like to take a look at a particular type of grape that we believe has had a huge effect on the Italian wine industry.
Regulars to our blog will have seen us wax lyrical about a bunch of different grapes over the years. And today, we’re looking to talk about yet another grape that’s part of the huge variety that the industry has to offer.
The target of our esteem today is the Verdicchio grape, which is used to make the wine of the same name as well as being a part of a number of other wines.
Here, we’ll examine the grape in more depth as well as taking a look at the region it calls home and some of the wines that it’s commonly used in.
The Verdicchio grape is a white wine variety that’s most commonly grown in central Italy. You’ll find that it’s one of the main grapes from the Marche region and it’s used in a lot of the wines that come from that area.
Its name is also a direct reference to the grape’s colouring. The “verde” in Verdicchio translates to “green”, which is a commentary on the greenish hue that the wines that use the grape often take on. It’s not uncommon to see slight emerald wisps in wines that make use of Verdicchio, particularly when examining those that use it as the wine’s primary grape.
The grape is also the main grape used in a couple of wines that carry the DOC label. The first of these, Verdicchio di Matelica, comes from the province of Macerata. The second, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, comes from the province of Ancona. Both wines are still Italian whites, though you could argue that neither has seen as much success as it deserves in international territories.
On top of this, the grape is also used as a secondary grape in a number of other wines. Many producers use it to make straw wines. Plus, it’s a common grape found in the sparkling wines that come from the Marche region.
All told, the grape is one of the most versatile in Italy. It’s used in the creation of everything from the simplest of table wines to more complex wines that have ageworthy qualities. This has led to many wine critics pointing to it as one of the best grapes to come out of the country. It’s also the reason why the grape has spread beyond its home region and is often found in vineyards outside of the Marche region. Of course, wines made using those examples of the grape cannot carry the DOC labelling.
Verdicchio is also one of the oldest white wine grapes on record that’s still in use in Italy. Documents reveal that people used it as far back as the 14thcentury to make wine. And it’s likely that the grape saw undocumented use prior to this period.
Some also argue that the grape’s origin doesn’t actually lie in the Marche territory at all. Instead, they claim that the grape comes from Veneto, where the locals call it the Trebbiano di Soave. Some historians argue that the grape came along with migrating Venetians back in the 14thcentury. In their efforts to escape the plague, the migrants transported their belongings, including their plants, to a new location. The Marche region just happened to have a climate that was suitable for growing the grape.
How true this may be is anyone’s guess. It’s possible that the grape finds its origins in Veneto. However, in the modern era it is a Marche grape through and through.
Finally, the grape is among the most widely-planted in all of Italy. At one point, it took up 65,000 hectares of land in the 1980s. This led to it ranking as the 15thmost populous grape variety in the entire world at the time. While it may not rank as highly now, it’s still an exceptionally popular grape.
More DOC Regions
As mentioned, there are two wines that use the grape as their primary grape that also carry the DOC designation.
However, these aren’t the only DOC wines that include the use of Verdicchio. The grape is a secondary grape in a wide variety of wines from the Marche region. These include the Cerveteri DOC and Controguerra DOC.
Interestingly, a lot of wines that feature the grape as a secondary addition make use of Trebbiano as their primary grape. This perhaps lends a little extra credence to the idea that the grape is at least a relative of this most famous of Italian grapes. They certainly go together very well, which suggests that they share a number of similar qualities.
The Wine Styles
As mentioned, Verdicchio is used to create a number of different types of wine, ranging from still whites through to sparkling wines.
On a more general level, the grape can create wines that range in colour from the greenish wines mentioned earlier to wines that contain almost no colour at all. High acidity is a common feature of wines made using this grape, as are prominent citrus notes. For example, the best types of wine made using the grape tend to have strong lemon notes. Many also have more subtle almond notes that add a layer of complexity. The grape’s high acidity is also what makes it suitable for sparkling wine production.
We’ve also seen a definite uptick in wine quality from the grape since the turn of the 20thcentury. From the 1950s onwards, producers started to limit their yields in an effort to produce more flavourful wines. Those efforts bore fruit and Verdicchio wine’s reputation soared. Today, it’s known as a grape that produces wines with subtle flavours that make it suitable for pairing with lots of different foods.
The Final Word
Verdicchio is something of an unsung hero in the pantheon of Italian wine grapes. It’s remarkably versatile and offers extremely high quality. Consider taking a look at some of the DOC wines that make use of the grape yourself to see what we mean.