Manchester Evening News

Wine with Andy Cronshaw

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AMONG Italian restaurate­urs and wine buffs the name Umani Ronchi is synonymous with the very best of the country’s Le Marche wines and in particular Verdicchio.

You’ll find examples of the estate’s wines such as top-notch Verdicchio Dei Castelli de Jesi or Montepulci­ano d’Abruzzo at the San Carlo restaurant­s and other city centre spots.

The pioneering brand has been named Winery of the Year 2024 by Gambero Rosso, Italy’s top wine guide.

This award very much recognises expertise further east in the coastal sub-region of Conero which faces the Adriatic and produces one of Italy’s less well-known appellatio­ns.

Here Montepulci­ano really shines and examples can be more elegant and perhaps less rustic than Abruzzo.

I was lucky enough to run through some of the top-end wines with Michele Bernetti, Umani Ronchi’s CEO on a Zoom call.

Although these wines are certainly expensive and for serving with fine food there are also entry-level wines from the estate available at much more affordable prices.

PLENIO RISERVA CASTELLI DI JESI CLASSICO, UMANI RONCHI, 2020 (£24 VINVM AND OTHER ONLINE RETAILERS)

Cheaper alternativ­e: Villa Bianchi Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico 2022 (£12.30 vinvm & others)

Plenio is Verdicchio grown at 400 metres in vineyards at Cupramonta­na.

In contrast to many Italian whites that are simply crisp, dry wines to be drunk young this is an example of Verdicchio that has real ageing potential.

A large proportion of it is fermented in concrete tanks and Slovenian oak gives the wine some toasty, nutty aromas. There are hints of richer notes such as ginger and honeycomb as well as a lush palate of citrus fruits and quince.

Most notable is its keen acidity and wonderful length on the finish.

CùMARO ROSSO CONERO RISERVA 2019 (£28 VINVM AND OTHER ONLINE RETAILERS)

Cheaper alternativ­e San Lorenzo Rosso Conero 2021 (£16.50 vinvm)

Cùmaro is a fine example of how distinct Conero can be from Abruzzo. Conero’s Montepulci­ano grapes were planted relatively recently and its more temperate climate produces wines that are less muscular than Abruzzo and more elegant. This wine still boasts the deep richness and dark hue for which the grape is famed with a sweet savourines­s on the nose and generous cherry fruit. There’s a pleasing lick of licorice to the finish.

CAMPO SAN GIORGIO CONERO RISERVA 2015 (£58 VINVM AND OTHERS)

Cheaper alternativ­e San Lorenzo Rosso Conero 2021 (£16.50 vinvm)

Campo San Giorgio is one of the pinnacles of Montepulci­ano and perhaps the greatest example I have ever tasted. Whole bunches from low trellis vines are fermented naturally and aged in large oak casks, producing a wine of great character.

There’s a Bordeaux-esque grandeur about the spice and cedar on the nose and I might not have identified it as Montepulci­ano in a blind tasting given its very supple palate and elegance.

It certainly lives up to the Bernetti family motto ‘Grandi vini ma non grossi vini’ – ‘Great wines, not bigger wines’.

PELAGO UMANI RONCHI 2019 (£36.55 VINVM & OTHERS)

Cheaper alternativ­e Montipagan­o Montepulci­ano d’Abruzzo 2022 (£12.95 vinvm)

Pelago is Umani Ronchi’s ‘Super Conero’ and as such is an IGP blend of Montepulci­ano, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Again it spends some time in big oak casks and new French oak and this gives the nose lovely vanilla aromas as well as herbal complexity. There’s a balsamic quality which chimes in with the mineral feel of the wine.

Tannins are slightly sturdier making for a wine to match roast meats.

 ?? ?? Umani Ronchi © Francesco Vignali Photograph­y
Umani Ronchi © Francesco Vignali Photograph­y

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