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If you let the pundits influence your wine taste, then you could be a doofus. I’ll explain momentarily, but first let’s explore something:

Isn’t it the best when you find a new hole-in-the-wall restaurant that makes amazing food but no one else knows about it? Of course it is.

People tend to like popular wine varietals but let’s explore the less popular ones and particularly those of the Marche region in Italy. Even many wine enthusiasts do not know this region’s wine. It’s a shame too; I drank some this past weekend and it is simply amazing!

Marche (pronounced Mar-kay) is one of the twenty regions of Italy located in the Central area and nestled against the Adriatic Sea. It is West of familiar wine region, Tuscany.

For the most part, the land is mountainous, but with rivers and valleys running through it. The combination of the sea, mountains, valleys and rivers make for a very different wine terroir that includes warm and cool climates, unique soil, and grape vines that really have to struggle for life—always a great thing!

More importantly, the uniqueness makes for some really interesting wine. If you try any of them, I can almost guarantee you that you will be pleasantly surprised.

The Thirteen

There are 13 varietals in Marche that have the coveted D.O.C. designation. D.O.C. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) is the highest classification for Italian wines.

The thirteen are:

  1. Bianco dei Colli Maceratesi

  2. Bianchello del Metauro

  3. Esino Bianco

  4. Felerio dei Colli Ascolani

  5. Lacrima di Morro d’Alba

  6. Rosso Piceno

  7. Sangiovese dei Colli Pesaresi

  8. Terreni di San Severino

  9. Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi

  10. Verdiccio di Metelica

  11. Vernaccia di Serrapetrona

  12. Offida (Rosso, Pecorino, Passerina)

Of course the “di”, “dei” and “del” indicates “of” in Italian and what follows indicates the specific place in Italy where the wine is made. The first word is the wine grape or varietal. For number 12 on the list, “Offida” is not the varietal but rather a commune in the province of Ascoli Piceno within Marche. Rosso, Pecorino, and Passerina are types of wines.

What is common to all of these less-known wines is their uniqueness sans the Sangiovese. Knock-your-socks-off uniqueness like I, personally, have never tasted. Let’s explore the one I drank this past weekend:

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it all week. Who’s the doofus now? Me of course. But really, the wine varietal is interesting and I totally forgot how much. It is called Lacrima.

Lacrima di Morro (DOCG) and the Lacrima Varietal/Grapes [Morro d’Alba is the name of the central town in the wine region.]

Lacrima is a relatively rare and ancient red wine grape found in Marche. It is ruby red with one of the most intense noses of flowery notes that I have ever experienced. The nose is a bouquet of intense lavender, roses and violets. So intense that if you knew nothing about identifying fragrances in wine, you could easily pick out the similar smell to those flowers.

The taste is of stewed strawberries and blueberries. There is even a hint of cinnamon. After drinking it, you cannot help but be floored–it’s just so different than the popular varietals.

The wine is usually average-bodied, tannic and dry.

It is a varietal that has been popular in its region for centuries but only recently has it become popular outside the region. Prior to 1985, plantings of Lacrima grapes amounted to just 2.5 acres. Today, there are 250 acres!

This is largely because before 1985 the grape and region were not officially recognized by the powers that be.

So why are you possibly a doofus? Let me explain.

Politics, people’s familiarity with certain wines, and the aforementioned powers that be, can all be reasons why a particular wine varietal does or does not become popular. Think about this: Does a varietal change its flavor profile with a sentence or with its popularity in general?

Did Merlot suddenly become a different grape because some doofus took a writer’s line from the movie Sideways (“If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving, I am NOT drinking any [expletive] Merlot!”) and decided that if he wanted to maintain his elite status of a self-proclaimed wine expert he’d better stop drinking Merlot.

I [expletive] love Merlot! There, I’ve said it. Guilty as charged! Thanks for letting me buy it on the cheap you pompous, fake, no good twerp—and thanks for making me have to spend double for Pinot…Not. Hello…!!! Have you heard of Bordeaux wine, you big Doofus! It’s often made of Merlot.

But I digress…

Why did I write about Marche wines?

One, because others should discover the region’s wine, which is really good. But the other reason, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, is that I’m feeling a bit frisky. And a friend of mine has been pestering me like my brother’s nerve-wracking kids, to write about less-known wine.

All right, Mike…you called down the thunder and now you’ve got it!

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