Marches is located in central Italy, on the eastern side of the Apennines. It has a long coastline facing onto the Adriatic sea which borders to the north with Emilia Romagna and to the south with Abruzzo. The major vineyard areas are situated inland, in zones sheltered by the mountains.
The climate is temperate-Mediterranean, obviously influenced by the Adriatic sea. The top native grape varieties are Verdicchio for white wines and Sangiovese and Montepulciano for reds. Minor varieties noted for their quality include Lacrima and Vernaccia di Serrapetrona. The region has 11 DOCs, the most important of which are the two Verdicchio denominations (Verdicchio di Jesi and Verdicchio di Matelica) and the red Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno.
The region has acquired a growing reputation for the quality of its wines in recent years, in the wake of the modernisation of both vineyard management and vinification. A total of 30.000 hectares are dedicated to vineyard in the region, which produces around 500.000 hectolitres of wine a year.
The red wines of the Marches are based chiefly on Sangiovese and Montepulciano, sometimes blended, sometimes not. The most important in terms of volume is Rosso Piceno, dominated by Sangiovese. It comes from a DOC zone covering much of the eastern flank of the region, stretching from Ascoli Piceno to Senigallia. Rosso Conero, dominated by Montepulciano, has gained even more praise, thanks to the devotion to quality shown by its leading producers. It originates in a zone on the slopes of the Conero massif south of Ancona.
Both Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno were habitually made to drink within two to four years, when they are persuasively round and fresh in flavor, though certain producers have made wines that age remarkably well. Although hardly known outside the region, an exquisite oddball red specific of the Marches region is Lacrima di Morro d’Alba, a light-bodied, low-alcohol, semi-aromatic red delivering unmistakable and unforgettable aromas of freshly cut violets and roses, incense and tart black currants.