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The other Verdicchio
The other Verdicchio
After the wicker-wrapped bottle of rough, hearty Chianti, the classic green "fish bottle" has to be one of the most vivid symbols of the old-style Italian wines from back in the days before Italian wines got much respect.
The modern rise of higher-end Chianti, not to mention Brunello, Vino Nobile and sought-after "Super Tuscans" has all but eliminated all memory of the old wicker-sheathed fiasco. But it's still easy enough to find Verdicchio dei Castelli di Iesi in a collectible green bottle shaped like a fish, with scales, fins and all.
Still, just as better Chianti eventually rehabilitated Tuscany's reputation as a source of world-class wine, the much less familiar Verdicchio di Matelica (which comes in a standard wine bottle that doesn't at all resemble a fish) may eventually do the same for Le Marche, a much less well-known region on the Adriatic coast in Central Italy.
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Iesi comes from Le Marche's coastal regions; Verdicchio di Matelica comes from hill country up on the slopes of the Apennines, where Le Marche meets Umbria on Italy's "spine."
In one of those odd coincidences similar to the one about learning a new word and then hearing it two more times, I've encountered a couple of excellent bottles Verdicchio di Matelica in the past few days. Last week I was thoroughly impressed with a young, fresh Accattoli 2006 Verdicchio di Matelica from importer John Given; a couple of days later, I found a Bisci 2003 Verdicchio de Matelica in a slightly dusty bottle in a local wine shop. I'm counting on the rule of coincidences to turn up Matelica No. 3 any time now.
Although the Bisci is three years behind the current vintage, it has kept very well and was evolved and deliciously rich. It's easy to see why the traditional match for Matelica is the artery-clogging vincisgrassi, a hearty Marche lasagna stuffed with prosciutto, sweetbreads, chicken livers, wild mushrooms and a Vin Santo-scented bechamel. My notes are below
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Bisci 2003 Verdicchio de Matelica ($12.99)
Clear straw with a distinct golden hue. Slightly evolved, rich and complex, almonds and hazelnuts and hints of beeswax over crisp white fruit in the aroma and flavor. Mouth-watering acidity provides structure, with almonds and fresh citrus in a long finish; the overheated vintage of 2003 is manifest in a hefty 14% alcohol, but it doesn't show on the palate. Excellent wine. U.S. importer: Vintner Select, Mason, Ohio; from Marc de Grazia. (Sept. 17, 2007)
FOOD MATCH: Made for rich pasta dishes or full-flavored seafood, it was a natural with fettuccine with white clam sauce.
VALUE: An excellent value at this price point.
WHEN TO DRINK: In very good shape and perhaps gaining a little richness at four years past the vintage; I wouldn't hesitate to keep it for a few years more. Note also that this is older stock - the 2004 and 2005 bottlings are already on the international market and the 2006 is on its way.
WEB LINK: Marc de Grazia's Website is published in Italian and English. Here's a direct link to the English-language page about Bisci, with links to specific wines including several vintages of Verdicchio di Matelica:
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Check prices and find vendors for Bisci Verdicchio di Matelica on Wine-Searcher.com:
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