Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Marche (Marches, in English), the easternmost region in the central belt of Italy stretching from tuscany through umbria to the Adriatic coast (see map under italy). It shares a variety of characteristics with these neighbours to the west: a topography shaped by land rising from the coastal plains to rolling hills and, westward, to the central spine of the Apennines; and a temperate climate that, though it is marked by hot, dry summers, is not as uniform as its western neighbours. In the northern part of the region west of Ancona, the climate is more continental, while in the south near Ascoli Piceno it is mediterranean. This has an impact on the grape varieties that perform best in the north and south of the Marche. Some viticultural characteristics are shared with Tuscany and Umbria: calcareous soils from the sea which once covered an important part of central Italy; hillside vineyards; and large-scale plantings of sangiovese, montepulciano and verdicchio vines. The Marche has been the last of the three central Italian regions to realize its potential for good-quality wines, however, partly because the region is off Italy’s main commercial axis of Milan–Bologna–Florence–Rome–Naples, and partly because of the lack of any urban centre more important than Ancona. However, the local white verdicchio, produced in large volumes by co-ops and large bottlers, is a continuous export success, although it has obscured the fact that high-quality wines, provided yields are kept in check, can and are being made.