This wine tour is dedicated to one of the most prestigious Italian vine species, which unwinds between Marche and Abruzzo, the kingdom of the Montepulciano. The vineyards flow southward like a second, green sea, parallel to the blue one on the other side. The exuberant nature of the vine is the mirror of these genuine lands, dominated by the primary colors of nature. Sharp flavors such as those we’ll find in the kitchen, sustained by a persuasive body that rhymes with the warmth of the earth and the coolness of the sea.
We’ll explore a land that offers much more than sea and fairy-tale landscapes with blooming hills: behind them there’s another world, where, if we’re patient, we’ll find hidden gems—maybe an international cheese fair, or an ancient Roman town lost in the woods, or a truffle-hunting trip in the country. Whether we visit wineries or villages and their food and wine festivals (Marche alone counts hundreds of them), we will soon fall in love with these quiet lands, ruled by an aesthetics of balance and a respect for nature.
Departure from Ancona. First stop of our wine trial: Moroder. Heart of the Conero, its vineyards perched on hills caressed by sea winds and forty-year-old vines that need no introductions. Tastings of magnificent reds: they’re compact and flow like silk. The Conero Dorico is monumental. Lunch with local salami such as ciauscolo and capocollo. Although this winery tour is revolving around the Montepulciano, we will not overlook whites like the Verdicchio, which Marche is justly proud of.
We will settle near Recanati, hometown of the poet Giacomo Leopardi, a merry village on a mountain top, a few kilometers away from the coast. Dinner with a view over the sea and paired wines.
The next day we’ll visit Le Terrazze, a winery founded in 1882, in which the sea plays a key role. Not to spoil the surprise, but just imagine a vineyard on a hillside, gracefully sloping down toward the sea, luxuriant with vines and olive trees. Tasting of Montepulciano, pure or blended: here’s how Chaos is born, an intriguing experiment, peppery like a Syrah yet sweet like a Merlot. Farm lunch with cooking class, featuring fresh pasta and Vincisgrassi.
The Sanctuary of Loreto is nearby, monumental in its original mixture of styles.
Next stop of our Marche’s winery tour will be in the Piceno, where the landscape becomes gradually more arduous, but not before a snack with cold cuts and Vernaccia di Serrapetrona. This wine is a niche product, incredibly finely flavored due to the withering of grapes and three stages of fermentation.
Fermo. Picture gallery with Rubens and many works from the Renaissance. The archaeological museum. Palazzo dei Priori and Duomo, for a pleasant evening walk. If you’re interested in illuminated manuscripts, ancient books and maps, you’ll find many treasures in the city library. The oil made on these hills is sweet, delicately scented with marine hints: a taste will be necessary.
Dezi. Triumph of Montepulciano, Sangiovese and Pecorino. Three top-rated bottles. Without hesitation, crystal-clear, always warm, well-rounded, charmingly fruity. The Dezi brothers are named Romolo and Remo—they could create nothing less than masterpieces.
Our wine tour will reach the Oasi degli Angeli estate, cradle of the Kurni: vineyards nested in a valley surrounded by the woods. Anything is possible when it comes to Kurni: one can criticize, love, hate it, but no one can deny that this nectar has a primary spot in the world’s wine landscape. Cupra Marittima, a pleasant coast town for an evening on the beach. Offida, village on a hill, with its palaces, churches and a monastery that deserves a visit. Tasting tour of the biodynamic winery Aurora, with its original wines and organic restaurant to discover the great dishes of the tradition.
Just a bit further, Ascoli Piceno and its genuinely drowsy charm, favored by its being out of the usual tourist trails. As Sartre once wrote, “A walk on the streets of the old town of Ascoli is like casually browsing through the pages of an art-history book and be lucky enough to find the most representative and expressive images of the different periods of Italian art.”
Gran finale of our wine tour in Abruzzo, where we’ll be able to go trekking, biking or horseback riding in the Majella National Park and on the Gran Sasso.
Emidio Pepe is one of the founding fathers of the region’s enology. Ever since 1964 he’s been tenaciously designing wines without compromises, which mirror the sincerity of their terroir.
Toward the south, we’ll visit Atri and focus on sheep cheeses and smoked, juniper-flavored ricottas. Chieti with its archaeological museum and its necropolis, all the way to the Agriverde winery. Futurist, built on the laws of bioarchitecture, it has a spa for wine therapy and start learning how to prepare the dishes of the great Abruzzo’s tradition.
Last days of our wine tour on the mountains, accompanied by grilled meat and mushrooms. Praesidium winery: a life devoted to the Montepulciano. Its Cerasuolo is terrific when paired with prized cold cuts, such as the Mortadella of Campotosto and the Ventricina. Let’s try the unbelievable Ratafia, a liquor made with black cherries macerated in Montepulciano. Closeby we’ll find Alba Fucens, Roman town founded in 300 CE, and Scanno, formerly home to patrician families that left a decadent, yet still dazzling heritage. The lake, glistening on the valley floor, is ideal for sailing trips, followed by a snack with Pan dell’Orso (literally “bread of the bear”), pastries made to celebrate the lord of the surrounding forests.