I have been a fan of Umani Ronchi wines since my first visit to their glamorous set-up in Marche about four years ago. And at yesterday’s Enotria tasting at the Saatchi Gallery, I was given the opportunity to update my notes and chat with Giorgio Pasanisi. Their 210 planted hectares are sprawled between the hills and the sea with their toes dipped in the Adriatic, giving the wines, no matter the variety, a salty sun-kissed minerality. So, of course I love their classic renditions of Pecorino and Verdicchio and the 2016 do not disappoint. Their Verdicchio Classico Riserva has a touch of oak, but it doesn’t dominate the fruit or quiet the lovely acidity. My favourite red is their San Lorenzo Rosso Conero DOC. It’s 100% Montepulciano (no Sangiovese), a late-ripening variety that does well in their hot climate - and which should serve them well as the heat mounts. The fruit in the 2014 is so clean and the extracts so solid but not overly so, that this wine has a lovely structure and personality. This is a modern commercial operation but they manage to get the balance right between international and traditional. Their wines taste like an Italian wine from Marche – a mean feat these days. I think this is because they focus on indigenous varieties, employ judicious oak programmes (meaning very little new barriques), control yields, and hand-harvest. My least favourite of their wines, for example, is their Pelago, a Bordeaux blend. Why? They also respect old vines, farm organically, and use sustainable practices in the vineyard and winery. They use light glass bottles, synthetic cane sugar stoppers that are 100% recyclable, and get their energy via a photovoltaic array. Most importantly, they have no plans to irrigate if and when the summer rainfall dries up completely as they believe that their soils, predominantly clayey and calcareous, are well-suited to dry farming.
Worth a taste – and even better, a visit: Azienda Vinicola Umani Ronchi, Tel. +39 071 7108019, www.umanironchi.com.