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Enjoying Wine and Beer in the Augusta GA area

Looking For A Summer Wine? Try Verdicchio

Macrina Verdicchio del Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico Superiore 2017, Italy

Cost: $13-15

Looking for a new white wine to keep you cool this summer? Try verdicchio.

Italians have been making wine from this grape for centuries, but many American wine drinkers are not familiar with it. We need to get to know this grape better.

Verdicchio (pronounced ver-DEE-kee-oh) is a popular grape variety in the central Italian region of Marche. It produces light and lively wines in a range of styles and prices.

Today’s example, the Macrina ($13-15), is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks, so it retains fresh fruit aromas and flavors. Another wine produced by the same company is called The Podium ($25), and while it also is made from verdicchio grapes, it is much more elegant and complex. It also can be aged in your cellar for 6-10 years,

One of my readers has complained (gently) that I too often write about the old standards like chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir. He challenged me to look at some not-so-familiar wines. He particularly pointed me to grüner veltliner, another wonderful white grape, about which I’ll be writing within a few weeks.

But for today we will stick to verdicchio. The name comes from the word verde (or green), and refers to the slight green/yellow color you often see in these wines.

The Macrina is a beautiful light straw color in the glass with enticing aromas of peaches and apples. That freshness carried into the first sip, where I picked up notes of citrus with some pleasant mineral notes. It is a dry wine, nice and crisp, that is great for before-dinner sipping, or paired with many kinds of food.

The grapes are 100 percent verdicchio grown in the hills of Castelli di Jesi, in the communes of Montecarotto and Serra de Conti. The grapes are soft pressed and fermented in stainless steel at cool temperatures.

I would serve this wine cold, at about 55 degrees. It probably will be good for 2-3 years after release.

Winery: Garofoli is the oldest family-owned winery in the Marche region, which lies halfway down the east coast of Italy. Wine has been produced there for centuries.

In 1871 Antonio Garofoli began producing wine for the pilgrims who passed by his home on the way to visit the famous church of Loreto. Thirty years later his son, Gioacchino, founded the winery and began making wine commercially.

Gioacchino’s sons, Franco and Dante, succeeded him after World War II and began modernizing the company. Besides selling the wine in bulk at cafés, Garofoli began bottling wine and selling it in food stores. Sales grew quickly.

In the 1970s Marco’s sons, Carlo and Gianfranco, began working at the winery. Once again, Garofoli modernized its equipment and higher quality wines were produced. The company reduced vineyard yields and only harvested grapes when they were fully ripe. This yielded wines with bigger body and structure, a style that was becoming popular.

In the 1980s the company moved its wine from bottles modeled after ancient amphora into classic Bordeaux bottles.

Since 1994 Gioacchino Garofoli has been a joint-stock company, wholly owned by the Garofoli family. Gianfranco Garofoli is company president and in charge of the administrative and business departments while Carlo, one of the region’s most esteemed enologists, is CEO in charge of the technical and production departments.

In September of 2005 the fifth generation entered the Garofoli company: Carlo’s daughter Beatrice and Gianfranco’s daughter and son, Caterina and Gianluca.

Annual production amounts to about two million bottles, of which 35 to 40 percent is sold on the domestic market and the remainder on markets throughout the world. The company is known for its respect for tradition while always trying new techniques to improve the wine. They were one of the first producers in the region to reduce yields, they have studied various clones of verdicchio to get the best results, and they have experimented with concrete vats, stainless steel and barrel-aging.

The vineyards owned by the company are located on estates that cover a total area of about 123 acres. They are situated in the communities of Montecarotto (at Cupo delle Lame), Ancona (at Paterno and Piancarda) and Castelfidardo (at Acquaviva).

Garofoli produces a wide variety of wines, red, white and sparkling, as well as two dessert wines called passito and brandy. They also produce olive oil.

The wine is imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, which eliminates an average of 25 percent of the mark-ups on imported wine because of its unique business model. Instead of the traditional three-tiered distribution system, Dalla Terra allows distributors to purchase and ship wines direct from the wineries.

The Garofoli Macrina was a good match with the grilled chicken.

Goes with: We had this with grilled chicken and french fries, a kind of half-healthy meal that tastes so good. My wife Teri must have been off her game that night because she didn’t insist that we have some kind of vegetable. It was all meat and starch.

The citrus and mineral flavors of the wine were just right with the rich, savory chicken. It was a perfect warm weather kind of dinner.

I also served this wine at a wine tasting at the Jessye Norman School for the Arts, after a yoga session. Out of about a dozen different wines, the Macrina was the first bottle emptied. It was quite popular.

When I grill chicken I like to keep it simple. I dust the chicken on both sides with Morton Nature’s Seasons and grill the meat at about 200-250 degrees. It takes about 90 minutes, but it is worth the wait.

I use a squirt bottle to keep the meat moist with a mop sauce made from apple cider vinegar, Morton Nature’s Seasons, red pepper flakes, Kosher salt, garlic and brown sugar. I boil everything for about 10 minutes and let it sit for about an hour. The tangy sauce really adds some flavor to the chicken and keeps it from drying out on the grill. I squirt mop sauce every 20-30 minutes and turn the chicken over after about 45 minutes.

I usually cook leg quarters because the meat is so tasty and they are easy to handle on the grill. The leg quarters at Lanier’s Meat Market are the best, nice and small and tender. They also come at a bargain price. So for less than $20 we had a tasty meal for three, including wine.

The Macrina also would pair well with fried and roasted seafood, as well as many grilled meats, such as pork chops, duck, chicken, turkey and game. Like many Italian wines this would go nicely with olives and all kinds of cheese.

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