Why the Marches matter more than ever (hippies & humans please read on)

Baby P 2013 update: the astronomic cost of self-employed couples having a child (via My Little Sugarpie). If we had better government regulation of health care, our family wouldn’t be going into debt to bring another healthy child into this world.

maiolati spontini

The village of Maiolati Spontini (Ancona province) is one of the 24 communes that produce Verdicchio di Castelli di Jesi. The vineyards there are part of nearly 3,200 hecatares planted to Verdicchio, 90% of which are destined to become “classico” wines. Why doesn’t the appellation command more attention in the U.S. marketplace?

At our house, we drink more white wine than red wine. And we drink more Castelli di Jesi than any other white. That’s partly because the price-quality ratio for these wines is excellent. But it’s mostly because we like to drink acidity-driven white wine in which minerality delineates the tasting profile.

When you travel to the Marches (le Marche in Italian), your senses are rewarded by one of the few remaining high-profile wine producing areas where Italy’s negrarizzazione has spared the landscape (Negrarization, the unbridled commercial and industrial development of once pristine farmland, named after the village Negrar in Valpolicella, where the corollary blight of consumerism has spread like a pox).

Life there is relatively simple (reminiscent of what Tuscany must have been like in the 1970s). The people are friendly and earnest. And the food simple, wholesome, and delicious.

As ideal as this sounds, the Marches still don’t play much of a role in Americans’ eno-universe. Just ask a wine buyer in any major U.S. market (aside from the Italophiliacs) if they can name five producers of Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi. Surely, they can rattle off five names from Barolo, Prosecco, or Brunello. But Jesi? And let’s not even get into Ascoli Piceno or Matelica…

But the reason why I’m writing about the Marches today goes beyond my passion for this beautiful and untouched region and my nearly daily consumption of the wines (I’m not kidding about that, either).

I’ve begun to follow the Marches carefully because I have a client there. And said client recently became a member of a new group called Terroir Marche.

The self-financed (not EU subsidized) group of organic and biodyanmic farmers believes that “the farmer is the primary source of our daily nourishment and is a pillar among those who safeguard the environmental landscape, the true but neglected patrimony of Italy.”

And its mission is to “promote awareness of organic farming in the Marches, to defend the territory and its resources, and to share the culture and practices of a sustainable and humane economy.”

I have been an avid supporter and an ardent fan of Vini Veri, VinNatur, and the Natural wholesome farming movement in general.

But I have never seen a group whose devotion to their shared cause is based so deeply and strongly in ideology.

I believe that grape growing and winemaking — like all human endeavor — is inherently and intrinsically ideological (and political) in nature. And as I have followed my client and the birth of this group, I realize that I have never encountered winemakers so passionate about the ideological and political impact of chemical-free farming.

More than any others I know, they see their mission as one of safeguarding Italy’s greatest resource, one vineyard and one field at a time. They’re not doing it to market their products. They’re not doing it because it’s trendy. They’re doing because they need to do it. Otherwise, their children and our children may not ever know this Italy — one of G-d’s great gifts to humankind, the “garden of Europe.”

I wish I had time to translate their entire mission statement. But I think I’ve conveyed their ethos here (however clumsily).

I applaud them for what they are doing and am hopeful that my daughters, thanks to them, may very well get a chance to see and taste the beautiful Marches the way that I have seen and tasted them.

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