Montepulciano is the most important black grape variety of the central Adriatic coast. While its origins almost certainly lie in Valle Peligna, between the provinces of L’Aquila and Pescara, the origin of its name is a little more uncertain. Montepulciano in fact is a small Tuscan town famous for its wines obtained from “Prugnolo Gentile” (one of many other names of Sangiovese). For several centuries, the two grape varieties were mixed up despite their distinctly diverse characteristics.
Only in 1853, Silvestri, a researcher in ampelography, correctly separated the two grapes identifying with “primaticcio” Sangiovese (due to the early ripening of the Tuscan grape) and with “cordisco” Montepulciano (a name considered still correct today). From an agronomic point of view, it is a slow ripening grape, loves warm climates and vineyards located on hills. These characteristics substantially impede the cultivation north of Monte Conero, a promontory on the sea near Ancona, while it is widely present in the areas in and around Macerata and Ascoli Piceno, in Molise and in the north of Puglia.
In Abruzzo, its homeland, it is grown practically everywhere. Smaller cultivations can be found also in Lazio, in Umbria and in the south of Tuscany. In ideal soils, it can express its typical sweetness, the richness of its extracts and a close-knit tannin texture.
A pure usage gives life to full-bodied wines, very fruity when young and capable of decennial aging with the versions aged in wood where time reveals more complex, harmonious and elegant traits. Montepulciano is also excellent for producing dense rosès, rich in flavor and with shades of floral scents and wild berries.
Blended with Sangiovese, it gives life to Rosso Piceno, one the most antique denominations of the Marche that only in a restricted part of the territory can it boast the status of Superiore. At Velenosi, the cultivation of Montepulciano represents without a doubt the most important grape variety in virtue of its loyal, unmistakable link to the territory and to the highly rooted traditions.
The golden bunch of Passerina, able to provide an abundant and constant yield, has always exerted a certain fascination on winegrowers thanks to its ability to produce income and quantity without great efforts. So much so, that it was commonly known among experts of the field with names such as debit-payer or debt-remover, must producer or barrel-filler, “caccione” and even arriving at calling it golden grape. In the Abruzzo region, it used to be called Trebbiano from Teramo or Campli. All these names undoubtedly created confusion with grapes which behaved similarly such as Trebbiano or Bombino bianco. If Passerina differs significantly from the first, today ampelographers acknowledge the fact that there is an undoubted connection between Bombino and Passerina. This allows us to place it geographically as a variety spread along a good part of the Adriatic ridge (from Romagna to Puglia) in addition to being well represented also in Lazio, Umbria and Basilicata. In Campagna, it has a regular ripening and is harvested around September.
The vinification highlights an elevated yield of juice, along with a valid presence of sugar and of acidity. Such a generous yield leads to a usage dedicated to the creation of floral, fruity wines to be used immediately, while young or just slightly aged.
Such characteristics make it particularly ideal for spumanti following the Martinotti Method (or Charmat, call it what you want ) where it can release all its aromatic fragrance. Around the area of Ripatransone, it was the grape variety traditionally used for fascinating dessert wines whose production today is virtually at an end. Its presence gives life to the DOCG bearing the same name Offida Passerina. What is more, it can be found in the Falerio DOCs, Terre di Offida, Controguerra, Abruzzo and Tellum and in various IGTs of central Italy.
Pecorino is the main grape variety of the Piceno area. The autochthonous variety for the Apennine mountainside of Marche and Abruzzo spread in large scale only at the beginning of the ‘90s of the last century. It owes its name to the fact of being considered in the pre-industrial period the “grapes of the sheep” because of its presence along the paths of the sheep transhumance. Its nature to resist to cold weather, to mildew and parasites, in addition to growing well also in poor, arid mountain soils consented its cultivation in more inland areas where other varieties gave in.
One of its official clones is Vissanello, due to its plentiful presence within the territory of the district bearing the same name at the foot of the mountains of Macerata. Its vigor would allow it to be paired with the maple tree, though today this practice has completely disappeared. The little grape bunch and the average yield, not always constant, is repaid by the excellent quality: if harvested in time, it can provide an important quantity of sugar without sacrificing the presence of considerable doses of tartaric and malic acidity. For this reason, the wines obtained are full, flavorful and with a good alcoholic presence yet at the same time able to express tanginess and a fresh olfactory profile recalling yellow citrus, wild herbs and anise. Being an early grape variety, the ideal harvest usually takes place the first two weeks of September.
The vinification is almost always carried out in steel or cement, more rarely in wood. Although it is rarely used today as the base for spumanti Classic Method, it has an ascertain attitude for it. Besides being found in the DOCG Offida, it is found also in the specifications of the DOC of Falerio, of the Colli Maceratesi Bianco, and in those of Abruzzo, Controguerra and Tellum.
Its use is allowed in many IGT around central Italy with the most widespread being Marche Bianco, Colli Aprutini and Colline Teatine.
Sangiovese is one of the most famous Italian black grape varieties and by far the most important for the central area of the country where it can be found extensively. Its great ability to read the territory, giving birth to multiple biotypes, has consequently lead to several similars in the course of its history: Prugnolo Gentile, Brunello, Sangiovese Piccolo, Morellino, Sangiovese Montanino, Sangiovese Romagnolo and Sangioveto are some of the main ones. Even Nielluccio, the most planted variety in Corsica, is acknowledged by researchers as a clone of Sangiovese.
Without getting into the debate between Tuscany and Romagna as to the area of its origin, actually never completely confirmed by researchers in that they speak generally of the “Central Appennine” mountain range, we feel to ascertain that the variety has a long history and gives birth to some of the most iconic denominations in the history of Italian wine among which Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano, Carmignano, Chianti Classico and Montefalco Rosso. In the Marche region, it is blended with Montepulciano to create Rosso Piceno and Rosso Piceno Superiore.
A small quantity is foreseen also in the denominations of the Conero area as a homage to tradition. From an agronomic point of view, Sangiovese is a marvelous territory marker, in the sense that it absorbs both soil and climatic characteristics of the area and produces a faithful copy.
It ripens in an average period and gives birth to wines that have a fruity, floral imprint when young to then, in their best versions, draw upon a meaningful fineness, allied with time to shape a proud and elegant character able to face decades of aging. All this thanks to its acidity and supple body. In our Rosso Piceno Superiore, it is the element which refines the generous, full-bodied strength of Montepulciano: they are complementary varieties, not antagonists, which end up completing one another by way of their diverse organoleptic characteristics.
When talking about Trebbiano, Count Giuseppe di Rovasenda, a great ampelographer of the 1800s who once said that he was not going to take on the prickly task of deciding the differences of all the Trebbiani, comes to mind. Consequently, imagine the muddle of varieties acknowledged as trebulanum, among which even those which do not have the right. This is due to the fact that it is widely spread on the Italian soil and has origins which date way back. Even Plinio il Vecchio talks about it in his work Naturalis Historia which was written 77 years after the death of Christ.
lthough it is considered an Italian variety, it has found a second home in many European nations among which France. Under the name of Ugni blanc, it is widely grown in the area of Cognac for the production of the famous spirit with the same name.
The most wide spread variety in Italy is without a doubt the Tuscan Trebbiano, known also as Procanico in Umbria and northern Lazio. Its vast presence is tied to the characteristic of a regular and abundant harvest in any type of soil. This was a much loved trait among the winegrowers who in the 60s and 70s gave most of the harvest to cooperative wineries: for them it represented a constant source of income and was not so subject to the harvest whims. On the hand, such overproduction was the cause of wines which were aromatically neutral and without a consistent structure and taste. Starting in the 90s, the custom of an agronomy which paid more attention to quality than to quantity began to spread with the consequent reaction of the variety showing an unexpected personality. It has the highest percentage in the Falerio denomination ( born in 1975 as Falerio of the Colli Ascolani, a name which was shortened by a modification in 2011 of the productive disciplinary) of the Piceno area, a blend resulting from the combination of Pecorino and Passerina.
In Abruzzo it is traditionally fermented pure. The resulting wines, although considered as wines to be drunk young, on the contrary have given proof to withstand against time providing interesting scents under a complexity profile.
Lacrima nera finds its homeland in Morro d’Alba and in a few surrounding districts among the hills near Senigallia. Fewer than 300 hectares, specialized in three varieties, are planted here: Lacrima di Morro d’Alba, the younger, fresher and more floral version; Lacrima di Morro d’Alba Superiore, with a greater structure and marked fruity perceptions; Lacrima di Morro d’Alba Passito, a sweet wine obtained from the natural drying of the grapes on the plant or in fruttaio.
In order to understand the suggestive name given to the black grape variety originally from Morro d’Alba, one must be among the vines during the harvest period. You can note here and there that the thick skin of the grape tends to split allowing “tear drops” (lacrime) of must to seep. This typical “tear dropping” gave way to its name. Nevertheless, it does not have an easy agronomic nature due to the fact that on one hand the must attracts all types of insects, while on the other the plant does not generally tolerate adverse climatic conditions. An attentive and expert viticulture able to control that the sugar ripening of the must meets that of the grape seeds, or better yet of the tannins, is required in order to best handle the variety. The harvest generally takes place around the middle of September. Adequately ripened grapes will give way to the typical semi-aromatic nature of the variety which offers floral scents of violet and rose, with a unique tone.
The vinification almost always takes place in steel so as to preserve the intense and fragrant olfactory nature, while it is put on the market quite rapidly. Its robust tannin character, present in particular in the Superiore version, allows it to have an unexpected longevity in a scarcely explored evolutionary potential. Wood is usually still not so used, if not for the eventual Passito version.
The variety is widespread also out of its natural homeland of Morro d’Alba with the cultivation being acknowledged in all the Marche region (as well as in Umbria and Puglia) but rarely used pure: just a “drop” in the blend is enough to confer captivating olfactory sensations to red varieties aromatically more neutral.
When one says Verdicchio, immediately your thoughts go to the Marche region. The reason is easily explained: it is the most widespread autochthonous white grape variety of the territory. Its scarse ability to adapt to areas outside of that of the Castelli di Jesi and of Matelica, provide it with a strong territorial characterization. From a morphological and dna point of view, it is identical to Trebbiano di Lugana and to Trebbiano di Soave, grapes which can be found between Lake Garda and the western area of Veneto. Some similars are Verdello, Verduschia, Peverella (only in the autonomous province of Trento) and Trebbiano Verde (only in Lazio).
Its presence in the territory between Ancona and Macerata is long-standing and is certified by several documents, for the most part notary deeds, dating back to the medieval age. The origin of the name is quickly explained: even at their complete ripeness, the grapes never lose those shades of green which characterize the bunch. In the vineyard, it appears to have a sterile trait in the first two buds, consequently suffering short prunings.
In addition, it is quite delicate regarding its resistance to mildew and other illnesses and therefore requires to be grown on well exposed and breezy hills. It ripens in a regular period, that is to say between September and the beginning of October. Its bent gives way to a wide choice of interpretations: it can be harvested in advance to give birth to spumanti with personality as also to vintages where the fresh citrus sensations can be captivated, or it can be harvested once ripe to obtain wider fruity sensations. Verdicchio is also suitable for over-ripening, where hints of candied fruit and aromatic herbs are present creating refined white wines from partially dried grapes. It loves fermenting in steel but also tolerates aging in wooden barrels of various volumes, just as it is suitable for the fermentation of reds and the subsequent aging in earthenware amphoras. This is why it is universally recognized as a complete, versatile variety. Its diffusion in all the territory of the Marche region is a consequence of its nature and it is not rare to find it in the area of Ascoli Piceno where it was one of the elements of the varieties which gave life to the Falerio dei Colli Ascolani denomination (whose name and disciplinary have changed today).
Currently it is the protagonist of the denominations which bear on their label the name of Matelica and of the Castelli di Jesi (including the Riserva verison), Esino Bianco, Colli Maceratesi Bianco, Colli Pesaresi Bianco and in the Marche Bianco IGT.
Whoever loves wine is inevitably deeply in love with Pinot Nero. No other cultivar offers the magic of such spiced, silky, complex and profound wines. The most expensive red wines in the world are produced with its grapes obviously coming from Côte d’Or in Burgundy. Its role is no less important when referring to sparkling wines. Silky Blanc de Noirs or fruity, consistent Champagne Rosé are elaborated in the most famous region in the world for this variety. Two peculiar elements enrich its seductive power. The first is agronomic: it is a very difficult grape variety to cultivate. It does not tolerate heat, has a small bunch, provides small yields and last but not least, is often naughty during the ripening phase. For every winegrower it is a mixed blessing besides representing an unforeseeable challenge harvest after harvest. As the saying goes even in the best areas, “one out of five is a good harvest”. This irregularity takes us to the second aspect, or better yet the fact that there are few places in the world where it can provide an absolute quality.
Besides the previously mentioned Burgundy, its selected territory, it offers excellent results also in some small areas of Germany, in Oregon and in the cooler vineyards of California, Australia and New Zealand. In Italy it has good results in Alto Adige, and in the Tuscan area of Mugello as still red wine, while it is widely used in Oltrepò Pavese, Trentino and Franciacorta in the production of their respective spumanti.
At Velenosi, it has been bedded out on cool hills in order to confer to our sparkling wines a touch of finesse and of delicate fruity scents recalling wild berries.
Chardonnay, without a doubt, is the most loved white grape variety. Its diffusion in all the world, witnessed by its presence virtually in all countries with a developed wine-making system, is sanctioned by its easy agronomic flexibility and the ability to provide regular and abundant yields which result in wines with a marked fruity taste. Its origin is to be found in Mâconnais, in Burgundy. Some of the most important white wines are produced there, characterized by the magnificence of Montrachet and of the famous “divine hill”.
Only a few hundred kilometers away, however, Chardonnay can be found producing extraordinary Champagne, at times blended with various Pinot, while other times pure as in the case of the Côte des Blancs gems. It is uniformly spread on the Italian territory and its versatility enables it to read the different descriptions of the various terroirs.
Alto Adige is able to obtain ready to drink whites and complex Riserva wines aged in small oak barrels. Trentino and Franciacorta turn the variety into some of the most expressive Classic Method of all the national spumanti production. Friuli and Tuscany give life to powerful wines having a good longevity. Crossing all the peninsula arriving to Sicily, the warm climate enhances tropical fruit sensations and offers the palate a velvety and dense taste.
Chardonnay has been present in our company for many years and experience has led us to use it also for the production of our sparkling wines. Its undisputed class, the captivating fruity hints, its complexity enhanced through dégorgement prolonged in time are not comparable with any other variety of white grapes.
Merlot is a black grape cultivar originally from Gironde and as such is included fully-fledged to the varieties of Bordeaux origin. It falls within the grape varieties in most of the local Chateaux, with the exception of the Pomerol district where it is often used pure. Its excellent agronomic nature is supported by the bunches being formed of big grapes which ripen easily and offer constant abundant yields on any type of soil. This flexibility has eased its substantial global diffusion, enhanced also by its characteristic to provide even young wines with sharp scents, full-bodied mouthfeels, and a good alcoholic presence. In cool climates, it has evident floral tones while in warm climates it develops particularly sharp fruity nuances.
The absence of a particular acidity and the soft tannins make it a versatile grape, able to temper the most unrefined notes of autochthon cultivars or at the same time confer color and structure to varieties with blander characteristics. Its docile nature, readily supported on easily repeatable sensations both in the old and new continent, cast a shadow on its standardized pure usage criticized in the famous wine theme film “Sideways – In viaggio con Jack” (2005) where the protagonist, caught up on a trip among the wineries in California, flat out says with an explicit language “to have no intention of drinking Merlot” thereby giving a clear and final negative judgment in the public’s eye. Actually, in confirmed areas, it can offer wines with excellent personality and quality.
At Velenosi we prefer not to use it pure but to take advantage of its ability to release its best characteristics when blended with other varieties, giving high calibre structure and remarkable polifenical quality.
Within the great Moscato family, there are cultivars with very different characteristics. Some with white grapes while others with black or pink ones, but all sharing a common oriental origin and having a remarkable aromatic flair. The white Moscato can be found in particular in Piedmont where both Moscato d’Asti and Asti Spumante, famous sparkling dessert wines, are made. However, its diffusion and cultivation crosses all the peninsula and, depending on local customs, is used also to produce dessert wines from partially dried grapes or in an even rarer use for the production of still or dry white wines. It can be found in Valle d’Aosta (under the name of Muscat Blanc a petit grain or Muscat de Chambave) as well as in Sardinia (particularly esteemed Tempio Pausania originating on the granites of Gallura), in Montalcino (used in Moscadello), among the Hills of Parma, in Puglia (Moscato di Trani) arriving as far as to Noto and Syracuse.
The grape variety is quite delicate, sensing the differences in terroirs and providing inconstant yields. Once the best fertile site has been located, the variety yields grapes that are first of all very scented with typical recalls of musk and aromatic herbs, yet also rich in sugar so much so that in Roman times they were known as apiane grapes for their irresistible ability to attract bees.
The refermentation in pressurized vats following the Martinotti Method enhances the bouquet and preserves the delicate sweet sip.
The low alcoholic proof increases its pleasant taste making it perfect for dessert, or if served chilled, as an unusual aperitif.
Of the so-called black Bordeaux grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon leads the way, sharing nevertheless its notoriety with Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Its name originates most likely from a spontaneous cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, both grapes being originally from the Gironde area.
Just like Chardonnay, it is a much-loved and wide-spread grape. This thanks to its regular yield and the ease with which it ripens, to its robust agronomic nature which allows it to withstand to a large part of the most wide-spread diseases with ease (with the exception of oidium) and, above all, to its ability to provide high calibre reds. Think, for example, of all the great Bordeaux wines which find in the compact tannins and in the acidity of the Cabernet Sauvignon the main framework of their class and longevity.
The world-wide spread of this variety is tied also to the well deserved fame of “improving variety” in that it is often used in blends with autochthonous grapes. Its flexibility to adapt to terroirs, without creating particular problems, has allowed the variety to be found in most European countries and American states (particularly in California),while it is a leading star in the new world: Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, which can boast excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, able to compete on equal terms with most of the vintages in the old continent. Velenosi, also, takes advantage of its qualitative trait by blending it with local varieties so as to obtain “glocal” wines: wines that speak about the Piceno area to all the world using a language which everyone can comprehend, without losing anything in terms of personality and high profile.