We got off to a bit of a rough start for our winery tour, still not grasping the concept that EVERYTHING in Italy closes from 1-4pm. (We're slow learners.) We arrived at the first winery at about 12:30, but just missed getting in before they closed for lunch. Dagger! So we killed a few hours wandering around the nearby town of Jesi, trying to find internet access. As usual, easier said than done. We did eventually find a cafe in the main square with free access, but not before traipsing through a really creepy deserted rundown part of town. Here's a tip: if you find yourself in Jesi, maintain the high ground and don't explore downhill.
Attempt #2 at visiting the Montecappone vineyard was substantially more enjoyable. Not only do they have gas pumps dispensing wine by the gallon (schweeeeet!), but there are a ton of wines to taste. The woman in the tasting room asked us which of their wines we'd like to try. Not knowing any better, we answered "Tutti!" So she poured us very generous tastes of about a dozen wines. Boof! I tried to explain that I was driving and only needed a very small taste. No dice. We often complain about the "Virginia pour" which might as well be dispensed with an eyedropper. After visiting wineries in Napa, Sonoma, and Monterey, we thought that a "California pour" was the way to go. But this day we learned that an "Italian pour" is the ultimate! At Montecappone they gave us almost a third of a glass of each wine to taste. I wound up either pouring most of mine out -- the horror! -- or giving it to Mark. Who drank a LOT of wine before the day was through. He suffers for his art.
Next stop was the nearest winery according to the map, although each item on said map was displayed with a gigantic circle, so it was a little tricky to discern exactly where everything was located. Where there's a will, however, there's a way! And thus we found our way to Tenuta di Tavignano, a beautiful winery located on a hilltop overlooking the Esino Valley. The winemaker there didn't speak a word of English, but he was so passionate about describing his product that we all seemed to be fluent in the language of wine. Or maybe that was just the result of all those generous pours...
Rather than continuing on to the next closest winery, we asked the winemaker for his opinion of which he thought we should visit. He pointed to one on our map that wasn't particularly close, and required a bit of a wild goose chase up and down some windy mountain roads, but was ultimately worth the effort. Bonci produces award-winning Verdicchio wines, the region's most famous varietal. We were somewhat familiar with this crisp white, but got to taste the full range of flavors the Verdicchio grape has to offer, including some stunningly rich 10-year-old bottles. Yum! Plus oktapodi made a new friend in Valentina Bonci, who volunteered to pose for a picture and declared, "Look, we have the same face!"
We made it back to La Tavola Marche with almost a case of wine from these three producers. Which gave us quite a goal to accomplish, as we were due to return home in just a few days! Fortunately, we like a challenge. (Unlike another pair of LTM guests, who returned empty-handed the next day, unable to find a single winery on the map! Amateurs.) We even managed to spirit one bottle of Verdicchio home to DC, where it sits in the fridge awaiting just the right occasion. Cin-cin!
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