Verdicchio is a central Italian white wine grape variety that is prevalent in the Marche region. Here it is produced in two DOC's: Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and Verdicchio di Matelica. The former is a mere 20 kilometres from the ocean, while the latter boasts vineyards at altitude and is close the border with Umbria, producing richer wines from lower permitted yields.
Matelica's 300 hectares seem tiny in lieu of more than 3,150 hectares in Castelli di Jesi, and yet the juxtaposition in overall quality between the two regions is suggested by the ubiquity of large-scale producers in the latter. Indeed, close to 60 per cent of Castelli di Jesi's production is controlled by co-operatives and negociants such as Fazi-Battaglia, the firm responsible for kitsch amphora-shaped bottles and misguided scroll-inspired labeling.
While Fazi-Battaglia's wines tainted Verdicchio's reputation to some extent, the variety is capable of highly pleasurable wines that dichotomously balance high acidity with a relatively high pH. This gives freshness but ample mouthfeel at the same time. Verdicchio offers bright, insouciant wines with a citric tang, when fermented cool in stainless steel; and in a modern idiom, creamier expressions that are redolent with stone fruit flavours, when worked in oak.
Verdicchio also goes by the name of Trebbiano di Soave in the Veneto, where it is often blended with the steelier Garganega. For many though, the variety and its wines are a harbinger of the saline lick of the Adriatic and the fresh seafood dishes that it pairs with, many of them served raw as crudo in the small restaurants that line the beaches outside of Ancona.