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Italy’s Noble White Grape?

2009 Andrea Felici Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva Il Cantico della Figura
$25/bottle  SOLD OUT

Marche is a breezy landscape of gentle, rolling hills in northern-central Italy between the Adriatic Sea on the east coast and the Apennine Mountains that run through the center of the country. This is Verdicchio territory, where soil and climate create the ideal conditions for raising this legendary grape variety. Verdicchio’s history can be traced as far back as the 4th Century when Alaric, king of the Visigoths, encouraged his troops with the wine as they crossed the Apennines to sack Rome.

felici_leo1Today, the region is being recognized for producing some of the longest-lived dry whites found in Italy from the Verdicchio grape. In his book ‘Native Wine Grapes of Italy’, Ian D’Agata asserts that “Verdicchio is arguably Italy’s greatest native white grape variety.” And the esteemed publictaion, Gambero Rosso, awarded its highest rating of tre bicchieri to 11 examples of Verdicchio, more than any other white in the country, in it’s 2015 Italian Wine Guide. Much of the credit is due to passionate winemakers like Leo Felici.

Cantico-FiguraLeo Felici is not only a dashing, young Marchigiani, he’s also a Verdicchio perfectionist. Soon after taking over his family’s tiny 18 acre estate in Apiro, the highest of the villages surrounding the town of Jesi, he immediately began transitioning to organic farming to help create the purest wines possible. His wines are rooted in tradition but imbued with a modern sensitivity. Take one sip of his 2009 Riserva and you’ll see what all the fuss is about. Felici’s wines have the tension between fruit and minerality found in the world’s great whites.

The structure of the wines is provided by the combination of altitude and vine age. The cuvée Il Cantico Figura comes from a single vineyard, San Francesco, at 1200 feet in elevation. It has an ideal south-east exposure. 50 years old vines grow from clay-calcerous rich soils that help trap moisture in this arid landscape and also create wines with lively acidity. Grapes are all hand-harvested and the fermentation process is begun with careful attention to delaying oxidation. The wine is then aged on the lees for 12 months to help build body.

The end result is a wine of outstanding varietal purity, full of white fruits, hints of brine and almonds, and an epic length reminiscent of lime peels. Felici estimates 20 years for maximum drinking pleasure so the 2009s are in their drinking prime.


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Posted on 2015.01.29 in Marche, Italy


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