When the majority of people think about Italy’s wine producing regions, Tuscany and Piedmont will naturally leap to mind. If they possess a deeper knowledge or an element of “wine geek” to their personality, they may also include Umbria, Veneto or Sicily. But Le Marche? Not likely. Yet this tiny province, perched along the Adriatic coast, should not be ignored.
Today, I’m discussing Umani Ronchi; the producer that I feel is the best in the province. Umani Ronchi’s history began 60 years ago when Gino Umani Ronchi purchased property in the Verdicchio Classico zone. In 1968, the vineyards were taken over by the Bernetti family who began expanding the estate. Michele Bernetti helms the property today.
Michele’s vision for Umani Ronchi was and remains, limitless. In 1994, he enlisted the advice of pioneering winemaker Giacomo Tachis and created the first “Super Le Marche” wine in Pelago. Pelago is a perennial Tre Bicchieri award winner and it’s what put Umani Ronchi on my radar. A bottle of the 1994 was given to me by a friend that worked for an importer. To do this day I remember it. When I mentioned this to Michele after meeting him at Gambero Rosso, he swelled with pride. His Rosso Conero is no less impressive.
But what is Rosso Conero? It’s a tiny DOC of approximately 350 acres that hugs the Adriatic coastline. Picturesque, with excellent ventilation from maritime breezes, the elevated vineyards here can be very special. A smaller Conero area holds DOCG status. Rosso Conero must be at least 85% Montepulciano while the balance can be from other approved varieties. That said, most respected producers exalt Montepulciano and use it exclusively for their Rosso Conero. Such is the case with Umani Ronchi.
Today’s subject is the single vineyard Rosso Conero from Umani Ronchi. Hailing from the “San Lorenzo” vineyard, the 2019 Umani Ronchi San Lorenzo is a special reflection of Montepulciano. In the glass, the wine is a deep purple with almost black coloration. Without much coaxing, aromas of blackberry, black plum, blue flowers and spices rise on the nose. The profile here is very attractive. On the palate, the black fruit flavors sit front and center in a juicy, crunchy style. Fresh and lively, with hints of baking spices and a touch of leather woven in. San Lorenzo is produced with very restrictive yields and it shows. The wine is aged 50% in large botte and 50% in barrique which have seen 4 and 5 passages. This is a primary fruit driven wine with more complexity than you’d expect at the price point. 90 points. Consider going long at the $18 price point. Find this wine & Support Tuscan Vines.
Le Marche provides value. These types of wines, from these “off the track” regions are where the best values from Italy lie. Abruzzo, Le Marche, Umbria, Sicily, Sardinia…. I will do my best to bring them to you more in the future.