Approximately 40 kilometers inland to the southwest of the city of Ancona in Le Marche lies the ancient city of Cupramontana, first settled about 500 BC. Lying along the south bank of the River Esino in high hills is Azienda Agricola Vallerosa Bonci, where for four generations the Bonci family has produced wines, primarily Verdicchio, on their 26 hectares of vineyards. Today, Giuseppi Bonci, along with winemaker Sergio Paolucci, produces approximately 250,000 bottles of wine each year.
On a beautiful fall morning we visited the Vallerosa Bonci winery where Signor Guiseppi Bonci welcomed us for a tour and tasting of his wines. The Bonci Grand Cru wines take their names from the four contradas or districts around Cupramontana where the grapes are grown. In addition to Verdicchio, Bonci also produces two dry red wines typical of the area.
After a tour of his impressive winery we settled down to the heart of the matter, tasting the wines. Our initial wine was a 2013 DOC Viatorre Classico, a 12.5% alcohol 100% Verdicchio. Aged in stainless steel, the Viatorre was pale yellow in color and had a light fruit nose. This young wine finished medium smooth and I rated it an 86. It will go well with seafood or light pasta dishes and should be drunk when young and served at 13°C.
Next we tried a 2013 DOC Manciano Classico, a 13% alcohol 100% Verdicchio that was also aged in stainless steel for a short period. A bit deeper yellow the Manciano had a pleasant fruit nose and a nice medium long finish. Another wine to be drunk when young, I rated this an 87 and recommend that it be served at 14°C as an aperitif or with seafood dishes.
Continuing with Verdicchios, we tried a 2012 DOC San Michele Classico Superiore Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, a 14% alcohol 100% Verdicchio Cru wine. After aging in stainless steel and the bottle for one year, the San Michele was a yellow gold color and had a lovely fruity nose. The taste was very smooth and the finish long and lovely. A winner of the Tre Bicchiere Award for the 2010 vintage, I rated this a 91 and recommend it with both seafood and white meat dishes served at 14°C. Later we will try some much older vintages of this wine.
A 2009 DOC Pietrone Riserva Classico Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi followed. Another 100% Verdicchio, the Pietrone was a 14% Alcohol wine made from slightly super ripened grapes and had a gold color and a complex nose. Aged one year in cement tanks followed by a year in the bottle, this wine finished long and very smooth and I rated it a 91. It will pair well with seafood and cheese and should be served at 14°C. You can age this for an additional 3-4 years from bottling.
Next we tried a 2009 DOC Le Case Classico Superiore Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi that was made from grapes from several vineyards and aged in a combination of stainless steel and oak barriques. This 13.5% alcohol 100% Verdicchio was yellow gold in color and had a fruit and vanilla nose. It finished long and very smooth and I rated this wine a 92. Served best at 14°C Signor Bonci believes this is a white wine that will go well with any dish.
Having tasted all of the various younger Verdicchios, Signor Bonci was kind to allow us to taste some of his older vintages, always a treat. First, he served a 2001 San Michele that was a yellow color, had a heavy and complex nose and finished very long and smooth. This was a superb wine and I rated it a 93. A 1992 San Michele followed (yes, a 22 year old white) but unfortunately this wine was past its time.
A 1999 Barre Classico Reserva, a 100% Verdicchio that was aged in barriques as well as stainless steel followed. The Barre was yellow in color and had a very different nose. It finished long and very smooth and I rated it a 90. This wine is no longer offered by Bonci but was a very nice wine that had developed well in its 15 years.
To my surprise, Bonci also produces in small quantities two dry red wines. The first wine we tried was a 2012 DOC Rosso Piceno, a blend of 60% Montepulciano and 40% Sangiovese. This 13% alcohol wine was the normal purple (from the Montepulciano grapes) in color with a light fruit nose. It had a medium smooth finish and I rated it an 89. Good for any meat or pasta dish, this wine should be served at 18°C.
Next we sampled a 2012 IGT Casanostra Marche Rosso, a 13% alcohol blend of 90% Montepulciano and 10% Sangiovese aged one year in old oak barriques. Another deep purple in color, the Casanostra had a beautiful Montepulciano nose and finished medium smooth with a forward taste. I rated this wine an 88 but perhaps it will improve with a bit of aging.
Our final wine was a 2007 DOC Rojano Passito Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi desert wine. Copper in color the Rojano was made from a late season picking and spent one year in oak barriques. Best served at 14°C, this is a good accompaniment for cakes and other dry desserts.
We could not have had a more amiable host for out visit than Signor Bonci and so I thank him for his sharing of knowledge and hospitality during our visit. I highly recommend Bonci’s Verdicchio wines, particularly the San Michele. Bonci’s wines are imported in the USA by Flat Creek Estate, Marble Falls, Texas.