Saturday, 2 July 2011

A glorious first week in Le Marche

Friends and readers,

At last, an opportunity to stop and put pen to paper (electronically speaking) as Janet and I are taking two weeks, staying in Le Marche in central Italy. The weather is mostly sunny, with the occasional bout of downpour - well, that's how it stays so green, I suppose!

The Abbadia
Runningwise, the agriturismo that we are staying at (quite excellent - Caserma Carina) was on a steep slope, so my first run out involved a 20 minute solid climb followed by a 20 minute downhill! This was really not going to be fun! However, Caserma's owners, Dean and Lesley, recommended the Abbadia di Fiastra, a nature reserve set in the grounds of a still-functioning Cistercian abbey. This was a great idea - so, after a short drive, we used a neatly marked 2.5 mile woodland trail, along with quite a few other Italians who clearly had this place marked out for their morning constitutional. As usual in temperatures above 30 degrees, any more than about 5 miles is impossible, so I went for two laps..frequently finishing just before 9am, to have my stretching greeted by the bell tolling for morning service. Once or twice we popped our head in to the Abbey to hear the monks chanting, probably just as has been done for 700 years. Very special.

Not the bottles we drank..!
The first week also brought two very enjoyable wine encounters. The first was a visit to the local vineyard, La Murola, which has only been in existence for a few years. It is a significant investment, stretching to 50+ hectares, planted with mostly local grapes such as Montepulciano and Ribonna, and then bringing in Verdicchio from Matelica. There is also a range with more international grapes such as Chardonnay and Merlot. I have to be honest, they are just not as good as the local wines! My favourite by far was the Vigna Monte 2008, a 100% Montepulciano wine, powerful and rich at 14.5% and a bargain at €5! What a delight to be able to taste these wines, sitting on a terrace overlooking the vineyards, with very generous samples, some lovely cuts of cheese and meats, and with someone else driving you home so you can get a little bit tickled! All in all a great experience.

John and Roberto at Moroder
The second was a visit to two wineries in Rosso Conero, both at the top of their game, but very different. The first was to Moroder where we met the wonderful winemaker Roberto, who tasted with us four of their wines, and took us on a tour of the cellar. Without doubt the special wine was Dorico 2005, which won tre bicchiere in the Gambero Rosso guide (much the same as 3 michelin stars). Rich, silky, powerful, integrated...very splendid. Then, on to Piantate Lunghe where the winemaker was also called Roberto, and where we spent a delightful time testing out his 2007, 2008 and a cask sample of Rossini 2010. the 2006 from here also won tre bicchiere. We were definitely going for the top!

Enough for this week...

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