I’ve always been a red man. Big, beefy, tannic reds have always been my thing. That was until about four months ago when I was trying to pick out the white wine option for our wedding. I knew what the red would be from the off – the magnificent Montaribaldi, Barbera D’Asti but I had no idea about the white. I tried a few options from The Wine Buff but one stood out above all – Ocean Bay, Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. As soon as I tasted it I realised what I was missing by limiting myself to reds and have since rectified the situation.
Italian whites have a somewhat mixed reputation. In Italy itself they are loved but move further north and people often complain about the high acidity levels. Not having much of a wine culture, we miss a crucial point – Italian white (and actually Italian wine in general) is made for food. Italians rarely sip on wine as we do. They enjoy it as part of a meal and that is where this particular style of wine shines.
Libenzi – Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi
On the foothills of the Apennines in Corinaldo, Le Marche sits the vineyards of Laila Libenzi. Growing a mixture of red and white grapes, Libenzi produce seven different wines, five of which hold DOC classification. As the name might suggest, this wine contains just one grape variety – Verdicchio. A grape native to this area of Italy, wines of this style have been made for hundreds of years with little notice from the outside World. As with a lot of Italy’s native grape varieties, Verdicchio is only grown in a relatively small area. The regions of Lazio, Umbria and Le Marche run west to east just above the knee of the country and provide the vast majority of the Verdicchio growing area.
This is my first tasting of Verdicchio and I’m not entirely sure of what to expect. I know that it will be acidic, that it will be a good food wine and I also know some nerdy little facts about the grape from recent bedtime reading (it would appear to be related to the Trebbiano grape grown in Lombardy and the more famous Soave grape from Veneto – all of which are reckoned to have descended from the Greco variety, now grown with great success in Campania. Too much, I know!)
All About The Food
On first tasting I’m not keen. Being more used to big, fruity reds, the acidity levels here throw me somewhat. I allow it to heat up a little bit to see if the flavours are hidden by the cold. It’s opening up beautifully. The acidity is still there but there’s lots of apple coming through now with a little lemon. The apple is a little sour – it reminds me of the fizzy apple sweets I used to love as a child. But then the eye-opening moment. I sip it after eating a slice of prosciutto – bliss. It’s crisp, clean and there’s enough acidity here to cut through cured meats and mature cheese but it also pairs well with white meat. I get it – these wines ARE built for food and this one is a beauty.
Type: White Wine
Region: Le Marche
Classification: DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) – Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi
Available From: The Wine Buff, Newbridge
Crisp and clean, a great food wine.