I must confess that the writing of this article a few days ago, was by no means easy. I’d intended to put it online immediately upon my return from an enjoyable afternoon spent tasting wine and sampling an array of local products. An event which took place on March 21st at the wine producers Fazi Battaglia in Castelplanio. However that afternoon I came home completely drunk and had to concede to a long convalescence in which to “recollect my ideas", as they say. What could I have done? It was impossible not to allow myself to join in the enthusiasm at the Spring event held in the wine cellar of this long established producer.
Fazi Battaglia, a company dating back over sixty years (it was founded in 1949), has always been synonymous with excellence in its production of white wine from the Marche region. Verdicchio, "a grape that has become famous worldwide with its amphora shaped bottle, created by the company itself "as they proudly state in Castelplanio. To celebrate the beginning of spring, the company opened its doors to the public and allowed them an accompanied tour into the heart of its wine cellars, retracing the grapes’ journey, from the gentle hills of the estate (over 250 hectares) through to its transformation into wine.
But let’s get straight to the tasting, of wines that, armed with a stemmed Fazi Battaglia shoulder glass (which I also took home may I add), I tasted and was subsequently reduced to a talkative and happy Paradise Sommelier.
The Spumante Brut. The first to be harvested: in its maturity stage, the more the sugar increases, the lower the acidity, a necessary component that provides this sparkling wine with its main characteristic, its freshness. Therefore it’s imperative the grapes are harvested early to ensure that the acidity is still high. Given its low sugar level, the result is a low-alcohol wine, but then it’s re-fermented, and so ... I was already tipsy after the first glass, despite the accompaniment of homemade bread, cold meats from Salumificio of Genga and Martarelli cheeses.
The Ekeos. Produced by re-fermenting a base wine similar to the Le Moje, so that it becomes slightly fizzy, but not sparkling, as the pressure remains below the threshold that would give it this quality. The result is Fazi Battaglia’s answer to the aperitif, but is a versatile wine and can also be enjoyed with a full meal. Without wanting to miss out on anything, I was poured a glass at 11.30 in the morning.
The Moje. A superior Verdicchio whose grapes come from the estate’s oldest vines dating back to 1963. Old vines, which, as the guide said "to call them acclimatized would be an understatement". The grapes are picked in stages, allowing the varied degrees of maturation of the grapes to give the wine an aromatic complexity far beyond that of a normally harvested wine. Third glass. There was no escaping it, I’ve always loved this wine.
The San Sisto. The journey of this fine wine is very long and is characterized by the utmost attention to detail, the selection of grapes is "maniacal". The wine is aged in small, French oak barrels for about a year. Since 1993, which marked the success of wines aged in oak barrels, particularly in northern Europe, Fazi Battaglia has produced Verdicchio in barrique (the name of the barrel). We’re not talking about simple containers here either, they add a little of their vanilla flavour to the wine, particularly the tannins which are responsible for the longevity of the wine and usually absent in white wine (they’re found in the skins). This is the reason why the San Sisto has exceptional longevity a special feature that could not go unappreciated hence the fourth tasting.
The Rie Verdi. It is one of Fazi Mattaglia’s experiemental wines. After years of producing Verdicchio alone, they decided to try and combine their classic grape with others: Rie Verdi is the result of its combination with Riesling (the name comes from the first syllables of the two wines). Again the Verdicchio rests in oak barrels and is then blended with Riesling. I’m traditionalist and so with the Rie Verde I limited myself to just a small aromatic tasting.
Reds. The Passo del Lupo is the Rosso Conero reserve wine made from Montepulciano grapes, considered "the finest and most authoritative of the Fazi Battaglia red wines produced in Le Marche region". It’s distinction lies in the combination of two types of grapes: 85% Montepulciano and 15% Sangiovese. The Rosso Conero is a great class of wine from the vineyards that stretch along the slopes of our Conero mountain. This wine is soft and appealing and goes very well with pecorino cheese.
In this respect, I admit that when I came to the reds, I decided to maintain my decorum and stopped there. I was happy to see my fellow travel companions enjoying themselves. Whilst sampling a little pecorino cheese, I took the opportunity to photograph the wonderful ladies who were busy putting bows on the amphora bottles of Titulus - the original Fazi Battaglia Verdicchio. And I thought, after all, they also contribute, with that delicate bow, to making our region famous around the world. Just like us in fact. Cheers!
The Paradise Trotter