For those of you who know me, you know I taste a lot of wines. I had the pleasure recently of tasting wines from the Marche region in Italy where I discovered some amazing wines and great grapes. Marche is a small lesser known area of Italy known as the “Region of 100 cities” and is located on the East Coast of the country. It’s mostly hilly which makes for the temperature difference between night and day drastic. This allows the region to produce complex and elegant wines. Velenosi Winery grows a variety of grapes including White: Chardonnay, Passerina, Sauvignon Blanc, and Trebbiano, as well as Red: Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Montepulciano, Pinot Noir, and more.

The winery started in 1984 from scratch with one family house, nine hectares of vines, and two wines. This is a self-made winery producing some stunning wines with a lot of passion. I had the pleasure of tasting some of the wines recently which included:

Passerina Brut: 100% Passerina produced with a long Charmat method, and 2 months in stainless steel. It’s a wine that’s perfect as an aperitif and is full of flowers, peaches, and citrus flavors. This wine is great on its own but also works well in cocktails!

Verdicchio Querciantica: 100% Verdicchio, with 3-4 months on the lees in low-temperature steel vats. On the palate, this wine expresses notes of green apple, honey, and spice that pair beautifully with grilled fish and risotto.

Roggio Del Filare Rosso Piceno DOC Superiore: 70% Montepulciano, 30% Sangiovese, from 50-year-old vines. This wine is aged in new French oak for 18 months with long maceration on the skins. The oak is incredibly well balanced and this wine is elegant with flavors of blackberry and preserves.

Ludi Offida DOCG Rosso: 85% Montepulciano, 7.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7.5% Merlot. This blend has a long maceration on the skins and spends 24 months in French oak. It has a silky mouthfeel and notes of berry, spice, and licorice. The name “Ludi” comes from the Latin word Ludus, which means “play”. The name of the wine is to underline the strong bond between wine, pleasure, and enjoyment.

Visciole Selezione:  A cherry wine, with 70% Lacrima grapes and 30% wild cherry syrup. They add the syrup to the already made wine, which causes a second fermentation and the alcohol to increase to 14%. This wine is intense with lots of berry notes as well as nice acidity and full body. Cocktail Hint: Mix this with the Passerina 1:2 parts, and you will have a great cocktail to sip this holiday season!

Each wine paired well with the family style selection of Italian favorites including a Buratta Salad with balsamic and strawberries, Ceasar Salad, Squid Ink Pasta, Pesto Orichetti, Grilled Steak topped with fried eggs, and Roasted Chicken. I recommend taking your classic Italian favorites and putting a spin on them like the above dishes.

For those of you seeking some new Italian wines to highlight during your fall festivities, be sure to look for Velenosi wines at your local wine shop. You can also ask your store to order them if they don’t have them already. Always remember, eat what you like and drink what you love. Please pair responsibly!