There is a reason the press often looks to Ampelio Bucci for their questions and features on the Marche region of Italy and its famed Verdicchio wine. He is one of the top experts after all, a true trailblazer, having put Verdicchio on the map of Italy’s greatest white wines and using leading-edge techniques for aging. The latest to talk to Ampelio is Monty Waldin, who for Decanter Magazine, wrote a fabulously informed and informative article about the region, quoting our beloved Ampelio and featuring one of his wines.
Please pick up a copy of Decanter Italy 2017 (out with the February 2017 release) issue to read the full article, but here is an excerpt:
White wine grapes aspiring to greatness need other attributes, such as an ability to age and develop beautifully in oak, in bottle, or in both. “Verdicchio ticks all of those boxes,” says Ampelio Bucci, Verdicchio’s elder statesman and another of Italy’ s greatest white wine growers (as opposed to white wine makers).
Bucci created what became Verdicchio’s oak-aged riserva category in the early 1980s when he installed vats made of Slavonian oak holding between 6,600 and 10,000 bottles. His observation that “commercially it was hard being the first in the market with this idea” is a delightful understatement given the tide of stainless steel and French oak barrels that were flushing out the historic oak vats from Italy’s wineries at that time.
Bucci swam against this tide arguing: “Large oak vats allowed my Verdicchio to taste not of oak but of Verdicchio, or the Marche. And by allowing the wine to breathe, the oak sets the wine up for a strong healthy life once inside the bottle.” The producer’s top-end Villa Bucci Riserva Verdicchios easily retain their mouthwateringly waxy texture for a decade or two, as reviving as Maconnais Chardonnay but with a more diverse payload of savoury-smooth white and yellow fruits on the mid-palate. – Monty Waldin