Verdicchio – Italy’s Killer V
I think we all remember a time when the Italian white on the tip of everyone’s tongue, from the fanciest of restaurants to the coziest of trattorias, was Pinot Grigio. However, so much has changed since then. Granted, it’s taken Italian whites much longer to be seen seriously than it has with Italian reds. This should come as no surprise, given that Trebbiano (and the ocean of varieties that are similarly named or mistaken as Trebbiano) remains the most widely planted grape in the country.
Fortunately, more and more winemakers are now looking to the indigenous whites of their regions, some of which have been saved from the brink of extinction. These days we talk about the true Trebbiano grape and what it can accomplish in the right hands. We also hear about Carricante, and how it may be Italy’s next great Italian white variety. There is also Fiano, which has already proven its worth over the course of decades.
However, there is one Italian white grape that I believe has yet to get the full attention it deserves. It’s a variety that can be produced in a young and remarkably fresh style to pair with the warmest of summer days and light cuisine. It’s also capable of producing a much more serious wine with the potential to mature for upwards of a decade. It even succeeds when harvested late, lending textural depths and ripeness that balances wonderfully against the variety’s naturally high acidity. Oak? It can handle that too, while still communicating varietal purity. The fact is, it may be the most versatile of all of Italy’s white grapes.
The grape is, of course, Verdicchio. If you haven’t already delved into its multifaceted expressions – or enjoyed a mature bottle – then you’re missing out. The good news is that it’s not too late to start exploring now, nor will it break the bank.
“The 2016 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva Classico Villa Bucci is intense from the get-go, showing almond paste and exotic spice, evolving into notes of honeysuckle and ripe yellow apple. It’s silky, with an amazing density of ripe fruit and a hint of vanilla bean, almost leaning toward the tropical spectrum yet reeled in with just enough acidity and salty minerality to maintain balance. This is a big wine, as is usually the case, yet the Bucci style carries it well. The Villa Bucci is a selection made from the estate’s oldest parcels. It spends 14 months in Slavonian oak casks prior to bottling. Lose a few bottles in the cellar for three to five years, and reap the rewards.” – Eric Guido, Vinous, Sept. 2020
“Dusty young peach and mango combines with white smoke and a spritz of lime to form an inviting and wonderfully fresh display on the 2018 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore. It perfectly balances soft textures with salty minerals and acid-driven tension, leaving notes of saline-infused green apple and a hint of grapefruit which begs you to take another sip. The fruit comes from a mix of Bucci estate vineyards, while the wine is aged in old, large 50-75 hectoliter barrels for four months. It’s an amazing value for Verdicchio at this level.” – Eric Guido, Vinous, Sept. 2020
By Eric Guido | Vinous
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