Verdicchio is the plenipotentiary of the wines of this pleasant Adriatic region, whose long-time devotion to whites no longer obscures the increasing merits of its reds. The Castelli di Jesi DOC zone is the home of the Verdicchio. Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico has been described as Italy's premier wine to serve with fish.
In the region of Marches, Verdicchio di Matelica can have more body and strength than the much better known Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi. Verdicchio from both DOC zones makes good sparkling wine as well.
The red wines of the Marches are based chiefly on Sangiovese and Montepulciano. The most important in terms of volume is Rosso Piceno, dominated by Sangiovese. Rosso Conero, dominated by Montepulciano, has gained even more praise, thanks to the devotion to quality shown by its leading producers. It originates in a zone on the slopes of the Conero massif south of Ancona. Both Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno were habitually made to drink within two to four years, but certain producers have made wines that age remarkably well from good vintages.
Two unique red wines are gradually gaining more than local reputations: Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, recently promoted to DOCG, and Lacrima di Morro d’Alba. Vernaccia di Serrapetrona may be either dry or sweet but it is always sparkling. Lacrima makes reds of flavors ranging from fruity dry to mellow sweet.
Sangiovese is prominent in the northern DOC zone of Colli Pesaresi. Bianchello del Metauro is usually light and zesty but can show style from certain places.
Esino DOC, which coincides with parts of the two Verdicchio zones, provides red and white wines, usually fresh and fruity. The white Falerio dei Colli Ascolani can show class.
Although the emphasis remains strongly on native vines, recent results with such outside varieties as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon have shown eminent promise. The regionwide Marches IGT accounts for a major share of production.