Location: Ostra Vetere, Province of Ancona, Marches, Italy.
The Buccis have owned land and made wine in the Castelli di Jesi area as far back as the 1700s, originating in one of the “castles” themselves-Montecarotto. Their impressive heritage might have daunted a lesser man than Ampelio Bucci, whose first name itself has its roots in ampelos, ancient Greek for “vine.” Ampelio, on the other hand, has succeeded in maintaining the best of tradition – old vines, wholly estate-grown fruit, the area’s own varieties; while revolutionizing quite a few of Italy’s traditional winemaking tenets – most notably, the old assumption that whites should be lighter, cooler, shorter-lived and reds steer clear of mellowness, liveliness (and fish).
His partner in excellence is an Italian genius of style and vision, oenologist Giorgio Grai. Not content with the estate’s longtime standing as the benchmark to the appellation, Bucci and Grai have embarked on the arduous but rewarding course of officially certified, 100% organic farming. Their first steps towards this goal were taken in 1999, and the EU’s seal of approval started with the crop of 2002. The property is extremely diversified, covering a total of 988 acres and comprising plantations of sugar beet, corn, wheat, sunflowers etc., as well as centuries-old “Carbonella” olive groves and other rare varieties that go into an exquisite extra virgin of delicate flavors and intriguing aromas of nuts, sage leaves and almonds. Total acreage under vine is 64-52 acres of Verdicchio and 12 acres of Montepulciano and Sangiovese yielding the Rosso Piceno DOC. Soil is mainly clayey/calcareous, and crops are kept very limited, less than half the permissible crop yields as established by DOC regulations. There are 6 vineyards at present, five of which are entirely devoted to Verdicchio and one, San Fortunato, is split into the two types of red grapes. The vines are very old. Together with the densely planted stock, green harvest, and severe selection of the grapes, only 2-2.4 tons per acre were produced for the Rosso Piceno Pongelli, and 2.4-2.8 tons per acre for the other wines (the DOC norms allow as much as 5.6 tons per acre for Verdicchio and 5.2 tons for Rosso Piceno). Vinification and élevage take place in the underground winery, which maintains a naturally cool temperatures make refrigeration unnecessary: yet another example of Bucci’s devotion to being eco-friendly.
Equipment is split into stainless steel, Slavonian oak barrels, and Allier oak barrels ranging from 25-40 hl. in capacity for Pongelli, and 50-75 hl for the white wines. The barrels are not new, so as to fine-tune and micro-oxygenate the wine without yielding harsh tannins or wood aromas. The distinct Verdicchio vineyards are vinified separately, then blended before bottling, with the blend carefully orchestrated from vintage to vintage. Bucci Verdicchio is so complex and structured that bottling occurs very late, usually from June to August for the regular, thus ensuring great natural stability and longevity.