Everything about the Bucci estate – 988 acres of centuries-old olive groves, plantations of sugar beet, corn, wheat, sunflowers and spectacular Renaissance gardens – just shouts greatness and a heritage steeped in passion and history. But then when you talk to the man who owns and runs this Marche paradise, you find yourself exponentially infected with his enthusiasm. Cultured and exceptionally articulate, Ampelio Bucci is a professor of marketing at a respected Milan university and a genuine authority in business, academia and winemaking. The Bucci family has owned land and made wine in the Castelli di Jesi area since the 1700s, native to one of the castles themselves: Montecarotto. The magnitude of such a legacy might have daunted a lesser man but Ampelio – who works side by side with one of the founding fathers of contemporary Italian winemaking, Giorgio Grai – has succeeded in maintaining the best of tradition, while revolutionizing quite a few of Italy’s classic winemaking tenets with his pioneering ways. Most notably, the timeworn assumption that whites should be lighter, cooler and enjoyed in their youth, while reds should steer clear of mellowness, liveliness (and fish). One of the keys to Bucci’s excellence is its top-notch vineyard management. The vines are rather old (averaging 45 years), and cultivation (in the vineyards and the olive groves) is entirely organic, officially certified since 2002. There are five Verdicchio vineyards located at excellent altitudes, with perfect exposition, giving the wines greater complexity and exceptional consistency from vintage to vintage. A sixth vineyard, San Fortunato, is split between two red grapes. There are 31 hectares under vine, with 25.5 dedicated to Verdicchio in the Classico DOC appellation, and the rest planted with Montepulciano and Sangiovese for the Rosso Piceno DOC. Around 30% of the soil is clay and calcareous and crops are kept very limited, half the permissible crop yields as established by DOC regulations. Aging receptacles used include stainless steel tanks, and Slavonian, Allier and Italian oak barrels, ranging from 25 to 75 hectoliters. The winery prefers used barrels to micro-oxygenate the wine without yielding harsh wood aromas. Each of the Verdicchio vineyards are vinified separately, then carefully blended before bottling. Bucci’s Verdicchios are so complex and structured that bottling essentially occurs very late (July to August for the regular), ensuring great natural stability and longevity. Vinification and élevage take place in the underground winery, whose naturally cool temperatures make refrigeration mostly unnecessary.

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