After six weeks in Italian wine regions I have reached a crossroads, and have developed some interesting theories and anomalies. One of these theories is about what the best wines in Italy are. What these wines should not be is purely statement wines, as this is not France. They should not be designed like something else, they should be themselves and proud of it. They should be made with indigenous grapes, particular to that area as often as possible. The wines don’t necessarily need to be a single variety, but the blend should make sense and express the origin. Some of the best wines I have tasted have had little to no oak treatment, avoiding the temptation to be matured for long periods of time in brand new medium toasted French barriques. I am by no means suggesting that this process is not good; I just feel it is not true to the wines here. The red wines should not be heavily extracted, but ultimately they should be balanced in fruit, alcohol and tannin. The white wines similarly shouldn’t be too rich and complex in malolactic, using oak only when necessary and again achieving balance. The wines should respect the traditions and origins of the variety and area, but utilise technology to merely observe and coax, rather than to intervene and dictate. Most importantly the wine should be approachable but not simple. The best wines are seriously made, but should not be taken too seriously. After all, wine is intended to be enjoyed with people and food, and too much emphasis placed on wines inevitably leads to disappointment and increased prices. Hopefully Italian wine won’t continue to lose its sense of place and personality, as the world needs the wines of Italy to demystify wine, and make it clear that not every wine has to be an ethereal experience. Variety is the spice of life, which drives the winery I visited today.
|Porto Nova beach|
Umani Ronchi is one of the largest wineries in Marche, producing about six million bottles from fruit in Marche and Abruzzo to the south. It is always important to remember that big does not mean bad (thanks Mr. Wolf) as a winery like Umani Ronchi introduces consumers all over the world to the wines of the region, effectively creating markets for them. Umani Ronchi has been doing this with aplomb for many years, focusing on indigenous varieties in a clean and precise style that is easier for people to appreciate and discover. A wide range is produced by the winery, made predominantly from verdicchio in the whites, and montepulciano in the reds. The range requires a lot of flexibility in capacity and techniques, with stainless steel, oak, cement and fibreglass used for a combination of fermentation, maturation, settling and blending. The reds are handled according to the variety, site and destination, with pump-overs favoured over plunging or rotary fermenters. Only the top red wines see new oak, with the entry and mid-range wines using at least second passage oak. As you would expect from an Italian winery of this size there are a number of different French varieties planted, most of them red, and mostly used for the icon wines. As an ambassador for these regions, Umani Ronchi has brought very positive attention to the are and varieties, winning the International Wine Challenge with their first vintage of the Pelago IGT. Despite the size the winery has a very simple philosophy to make the best wines possible and bring them to the world, and subsequently keep a very modest team of dedicated employees, such as Francesca from the Export Department, who took me through the winery and a tasting. Click here to read my tasting notes.
|Blending tanks at Umani Ronchi|
Click here to see more photos from Day Two in Marche, Italy.