In a nutshell: Good value crisp whites and juicy reds.
Main grapes: Verdicchio (white); Montepulciano, Sangiovese (red).
This extensive region down the Adriatic coast south of Romagna from Rimini to Ancona and beyond is in an exciting stage of evolution and improvement.
The most famous wine product of the central eastern coast is Verdicchio, a dry white whose average quality has increased enormously in recent years yet is rarely expensive. The two best known DOCs for this lemony, potentially characterful grape variety are Verdicchio dei Castelli di Iesi and, from further into the green hills above the coast, Verdicchio di Matelica. The jury is out on which is the better; as is so often the case, the producer is a far better guide to quality.
One of the largest, Umani Ronchi, have worked wonders with some special red and white bottlings. Their Casal di Serra has been one of Italy’s most reliably interesting and well-balanced whites for years, just as their oaked Cumaro and San Lorenzo reached new heights for the local red wine, Rosso Conero, named after Monte Conero just south of Ancona, when they were first launched.
The important grape for Rosso Conero, as for Rosso Piceno produced from a much, much bigger area of southern Marche is Montepulciano (nothing to do with the Tuscan town which produces Vino Nobile from its own strain of Sangiovese). Montepulciano is clearly one of Italy’s most useful grapes, producing dark, juicy, well-structured red wines in the right hands which are usually quite incredibly cheap (not a claim you can make about many Italian wines). It is often blended with Sangiovese in this part of the world. Other good producers are Bisci, Fazi Battaglia, Garofoli and Le Terrazze.