Neil Duarte's Vino e Cucina d'Italia

Ciù Ciù - Planting Roots and Dreams

Just outside of the picturesque medieval town of Offida located in the southeastern part of the region of Le Marche lies Società Agricola Ciù Ciù ( The winery, begun in 1970 by Natalino Bartolomei and his wife Anna, and continued today by sons Massimiliano and Walter, occupies 150 hectares of vineyards on which are grown a variety of organic grapes that all reflect the traditions and land of Le Marche. From these grapes the Bartolomei family produces a variety of white and red wines that, based at least on our tasting, embody the finest characteristics of southern Le Marche wines.

On a misty spring late morning, led by our favorite guide, Emidio De Ruscio, owner of the excellent B&B Vento di Rose, we arrived at Ciù Ciù Winery. Our host for the tour and tasting was Signor Walter Bartolomei assisted by Signorina Katia Stracci who also served as a translator when my Italian was not sufficient. After a tour of the spotless winery, we were treated to what I believe is the optimum way in which to taste wines, a meal.

Driving the short distance to the town of Offida, we went to Cantina del Picchio, a combination Ristorante / Enoteca now owned by the Bartolomei family. There we feasted on the offerings of Chef Emilio Pasqualini while sampling the Ciù Ciù wines.

We began the white wines with a 2011 Altamarea Vini Spumante Brut 100% Passerina which was made from hand selected grapes cryomacerated and then must fermented with selected yeasts at controlled temperatures. The wine was aged using the Charmat Martinotti method followed with three months aging in the bottle. Pale yellow in color, this 12% alcohol wine had a light flower nose and a fresh finish. If you like spumante wines, this was a nice example.

Wines of Ciù Ciù
Ciù Ciù's Walter Bartolomei opening his wines at the Cantina del Picchio. Photo: Terry Duarte.
Our second wine was another spumante, a 2011 Merlettaie Vini Spumante Brut 100% Percorino. Production and aging were the same as the Altamarea. This 12.5% alcohol wine was a deeper yellow in color with a stronger nose and a soft finish. This also was a very nice spumante wine with a bit more intense taste.

Continuing in white wines the next wine was a 2012 Marche IGT 100% Passerina Evoe. This 12.5% alcohol wine, made from hand selected grapes picked in September was vinified in stainless steel for a short period and is ready to be drunk within six months of harvest. It was pale yellow in color, had a fruity nose and finished medium and smooth. I rated this wine an 88.

Next we tried a 2012 DOCG Offida 100% Pecorino Merlettaie. Another wine using only hand selected grapes taken in early September, the fermentation includes placing the decanted musts in French oak barriques for approximately six months with the lees followed by three months in the bottle. A deeper yellow in color, the 14% alcohol wine has a strong fruity nose and a medium smooth finish. This was an excellent example of Pecorino wine and I rated it an 89.

The final white was a 2012 IGT Marche Bianco Tebaldo. This blend of 7% Chardonnay 20% Sauvignon Blanc and 73% Pinot Grigio represents the ready-to-drink-now offering of Ciù Ciù. It is not aged and is ready to drink after a short time in stainless steel. I rated this 13.5% alcohol an 85.

Our first red wine was a 2012 DOP Rosso Piceno Bacchus. DOP stands for "Denominazione di Origine Protetta" an appellation with which I was not familiar. DOP is a European Union label that simply means that all of the foods used in the production of an item are from the area where it is produced. The Bacchus was a 13.5% alcohol blend of 50% Montepulciano and 50% Sangiovese that was aged six months in stainless steel and a further three months in the bottle. It was deep purple in color with a strong Montepulciano nose and a smooth medium finish. I rated this wine an 88. The second red wine was a 2009 DOC Rosso Piceno Superiore Gotico. The Gotico was a 14% alcohol blend of 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese that was aged twelve months in French oak barriques followed by six months in the bottle. Deep purple in color this wine had a strong Montepulciano nose and a pleasant smooth finish. I rated this wine an 89.

Next we tried a 2009 Marche IGP Saggio, a 100% Sangiovese 14.5% alcohol wine. The Saggio is fermented in stainless steel tanks with its skins for three weeks and then the malolactic fermentation is completed at 28-30°C. In the aging process, 30% is stored in French oak barriques for twelve months with the remainder in stainless steel for 24 months. Six months in the bottle follows. The result is a red purple color with a lighter fruity nose and long and smooth but light finish. This was a very nice Sangiovese and I rated it a 90.

A 2007 IGT Marche Rosso Oppidum, a 100% Montepulciano 15% alcohol wine was next. This late October harvest wine is fermented with skins for 20 days, followed by the malolactic fermentation. Aging consists of 30% in French oak barriques with the other 70% in 10hl wooden barrels, both for twelve months followed by a further six months in the bottle. The result is a wine of deep purple color with a vanilla nose and a long and smooth finish. This was a really good wine and I rated it a 92.

Our final wine was a 2006 DOC Offida Rosso Esperanto, a 14.5% alcohol blend of 70% Montepulciano and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fermentation with the skins in stainless steel is followed by 24 months aging in French oak barriques and another twelve months in the bottle. The result is a wine of deep purple color with fruit and leather nose and a strong full bodied pleasant finish. This was another really excellent wine and I rated it a 92.

The entire time we tasted the Ciù Ciù wines, Chef Pasqualini provided delicious foods as an accompaniment. Unfortunately, I forgot to get a list of these, but I strongly recommend you dine at Cantina del Picchio if you are in the area.

Our thanks go to our host, Walter Bartolomei and his assistant Katia Stracci for a marvelous lunch and tasting. The wines of Ciù Ciù are a testimonial to the dreams of his parents who can rest assured that their winery is in very goods hands today.

Ciù Ciù has nine importers in the USA on both coasts and in Alaska. You can write to the winery for a listing of their importers.

October, 2013

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