Marche extends over an area of 9,694 square kilometres (3,743 sq mi) of the central Adriatic slope between Emilia-Romagna to the north, Tuscany and Umbria to the west, and Lazio and Abruzzo to the south, the entire eastern boundary being formed by the Adriatic. Most of the region is mountainous or hilly, the main features being the Apennine chain along the internal boundary and an extensive system of hills descending towards the Adriatic. With the sole exception of Monte Vettore, 2,476 metres (8,123 ft) high, the mountains do not exceed 2,400 metres (7,900 ft). The hilly area covers two-thirds of the region and is interrupted by wide gullies with numerous – albeit short – rivers and by alluvial plains perpendicular to the principal chain. The parallel mountain chains contain deep river gorges, the best known being those of the Furlo, the Rossa and the Frasassi.
The coastal area is 173 kilometres (107 mi) long and is relatively flat and straight except for the hilly area between Gabicce and Pesaro in the north, and the eastern slopes of Monte Conero near Ancona.
Climate is temperate. Inland, in the mountainous areas, is more continental with cold and often snowy winters; by the sea is more mediterranean. Precipitation varies from 1000–1500 mm. per year inland and 600–800 mm. per year on the Adriatic coast.
About Marche wine
This extensive region down the Adriatic coast south of Romagna from Rimini to Ancona and beyond is in an exciting stage of evolution and improvement.
The most famous wine product of the central eastern coast is Verdicchio, a dry white whose average quality has increased enormously in recent years yet is rarely expensive. The two best known DOCs for this lemony, potentially characterful grape variety are Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and, from further into the green hills above the coast, Verdicchio di Matelica. The jury is out on which is the better; as is so often the case, the producer is a far better guide to quality.
One of the largest, Umani Ronchi, have worked wonders with some special red and white bottlings. Their Casal di Serra has been one of Italy’s most reliably interesting and well-balanced whites for years, just as their oaked Cùmaro and San Lorenzo reached new heights for the local red wine, Rosso Conero, named after Monte Conero just south of Ancona, when they were first launched.
The important grape for Rosso Conero, as for Rosso Piceno produced from a much, much bigger area of southern Marche, is Montepulciano (nothing to do with the Tuscan town which produces Vino Nobile from its own strain of Sangiovese). Montepulciano is clearly one of Italy’s most useful grapes, producing dark, juicy, well-structured red wines in the right hands which are usually quite incredibly cheap (not a claim you can make about many Italian wines). It is often blended with Sangiovese in this part of the world. Other good producers are Bisci, Fazi Battaglia, Garofoli and Le Terrazze.