Tasting with Porthos editor Sandro Sangiorgi @TerroirMarche

porthos wine magazine sangiorgi

One of the most dynamic seminars and tastings of the Terroir Marche festival last weekend in Ascoli Piceno was led by Sandro Sangiorgi (above), widely considered the “best technical taster” in Italy today and one of Italy’s literary stars.

As the editor of the intellectually geared wine review Porthos and the author of countless books on Italian wine and its leading personages, Sangiorgi is as widely acclaimed as a writer as he is as taster and Italian wine authority.

Whenever he leads a tasting, he gets the participants to think outside of the box and to move outside their comfort zone.

In Sunday’s tasting of 8 expressions of Montepulciano from the Marches, he had the attendees taste in silence for 30 minutes while they listened to melancholic piano and strings.

A lively debate about the wines and their quality followed.

And he finished the event with a reading of art historian Henri Focillon’s famous poem, “In Praise of Hands” (click here for an English-language translation of the work [excerpted]).

Marche wines as an expression of mountain viticulture

The opening seminar of the TerroirMarche fair/conference is devoted to Marche wines as an expression of Apennine viticulture.

Fabio Marchionni

Enojournalist Paolo De Cristofaro is the moderator. Matelica growers Collestefano and Valturio are the two presenters (and wines in the tasting flight).

Adriano Galli of Valturio sits to Paolo’s left, Fabio Marchionni of Collestefano to his right.

difference between matelica and jesi

With the influence of the Adriatic, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi is rightfully considered a maritime appellation.

Matelica, on the other hand, is located in a north-south running valley surrounded on either side by the central Apennines.

Diurnal temperature variation gives the appellation a continental climate.

Six townships in Matelica appellation.

In 2011 Matelica became DOCG.

Min. 12 months for reserve aging.

Great diversity in subsoils.

Miocene marl and limestone and clay.

Higher acidity and lower alcohol than in Jesi.

terroir marche festival

In blind tastings, even experienced tasters mistake the wines for Chablis and Riesling.

The appellation is widely known for its excellent price-quality ratio.

Collestefano, organic estate since its beginnings in 1995.

On average, 25-year-old vines.

80-100,000 bottles annually.


Wines in flight: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2007.

Paolo’s metaphors for these wines are “a fencer” and “a Yul Brynner as Pharaoh.”

Crudo, shellfish, coniglio in prochetta… great pairings, says Paolo.

(My favorites were the 2014 and 2007 but the 2014, considering the challenges of the vintage, is “heroic.” Others also had high praise for the 2014. Such great mineral expression in the 2007.)

macerata feltria

The Valturio winery is located in Macerata Feltria (in the Google map above; Pesaro and Urbino province).

Currently converting to organic farming.

Amphitheater of vineyards. Sangiovese is the primary grape. With some vines planted using alberello training.

Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the lower part of the vineyards.

Viognier, Manzoni, and Moscato also planted. Also, Pinot Noir for a classic method.

Mountain viticulture.

Mostly marl and some clay soils.

“The thing that really strikes you when you visit the estate,” says Paolo, “is the light.”

The light of Montefeltro.

And this abundance of light helps the fruit in the final stages of ripening because ripening begins late there (because of the high altitude?).

Vintages in flight: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009.

montefeltro sangiovese

Historically, there had been viticulture there. But in the 1950s, vines had been grubbed up.

Valturio estate was built in the 1700s. Adriano married into the family that owned it and he liked the idea of the challenge of recreating a winemaking estate there.

Integrated landscape — woods, vineyards etc. — is the great appeal of the estate. In the 1980s, Sangiovese was planted.

Current release is 2010. These wines were intended as expressions of Sangiovese for aging.

“A woodsy minerality,” says Paolo as descriptor. A unique expression of Sangiovese.

Paolo’s metaphor is “cyclist.” With energy and strength. The wine can even be a little too acidic when it doesn’t have the sweetness of its fruit.

Really interesting to her Adriano Galli speak about his experience as a winemaker in a place where there was no viticulture and no local winemaking tradition when he started making wine there.

It seems that nearly everyone agrees this is wonderfully singular, unique expression of Sangiovese (I agree… I loved the 2006 in particular but overall, these wines really impressed me with their originality).

Stay tuned: TerroirMarche festival coming up…

Please stay tuned: Our blogmaster will be attending the first-ever TerroirMarche festival in Ascoli Piceno this weekend.

The fair and tastings feature 11 Jesi and Matelica producers (below), including Pievalta.

Where wifi permits, he’ll be posting images and notes from the seminars and tastings tomorrow and Sunday.

Click here for more info on the fair and registration details.

terroir marche

Animante takes home gold at prestigious International Sommeliers Wine Awards

gold medal

We are pleased to announce that Barone Pizzini NV Franciacorta Animante brought home a gold medal at the prestigious International Sommeliers Wine Awards this week.

Results from the event, held each year in Britain and judged by leading wine professionals, were released this week: Click here for the complete list of Gold Medal winners.

Here’s what the panel had to say about Animante:

Barone Pizzini, Animante, Franciacorta Brut, NV, Lombardy, Italy

Elegance and delicacy inspired the judges with this Franciacorta wine. ‘Great persistence and strong typicity,’ said team leader Annette Scarfe MW, ‘Perfect with seafood.’ ‘Restrained, good balance of minerality and freshness, with juicy green apple flavours and floral undertones,’ said Rebecca Coates of Hakkasan London, with Neil Bruce of Studio Alto adding: ‘Subtle biscuit and zesty fruitiness, dry and crisp, with lemon/lime fruit.’

Just a few seminar spots remaining @TerroirMarche Festival May 16-17!

We are thrilled to announce that the TerroirMarche Festival seminar next weekened (May 16-17), “The Grand Crus of Castelli di Jesi” with leading wine writer Armando Castagno (below), is already sold out!

There are just a few spots remaining for the 4 other seminars.

Please reserve as soon as possible to ensure a spot at one of these not-to-be-missed opportunities to discover the wines of the Marches through vertical and debut tastings at the TerroirMarche Festival.

Click here for seminar and registration information.

armando castagno

Image via Armando Castango’s Facebook.

Olive Ascolane! One of the things we are looking forward to @TerroirMarche

recipe olive ascolane olives

Above: Siamo Fritti is a wine bar and food shop located in the heart of Ascoli Piceno.

Where there is wine, there should always be food. After all, humankind cannot live by wine alone.

As we gear up for the first ever Terroir Marche festival (May 16-17 in Ascoli Piceno), one of the things we are most looking forward to is the classic foods of Ascoli Piceno and the Marches (Le Marche).

And at the top of our list of things to try is olive ascolane, meat-stuffed fried olives.

The Terroir Marche site includes a list of recommended venues for eating and wine tasting while in Ascoli Piceno.

One of the organizers’ recommendations is Siamo Fritti (We Are Fried), a wine bar and food shop that specializes, among other things, in olive ascolane.

Don’t you just love the name?

The olives of Ascoli Piceno are renowned for their tenderness. And it’s believed that this is the reason why they are so well suited for the classic olive ascolane recipe (although some beyond the Marches might dispute this since the dish has become pan-Italian and enjoys a following throughout Italy).

Basically, the olives are brined and then pitted. Then they are stuffed with finely ground meat that has been cooked with herbs and deglazed with white wine. Then they are breaded and fried.

Over the course of the two days of the festival, we will be eating as many olive ascolane as humanly possible. So please stay tuned for our report!

Image via the Siamo Fritti website.