Cantine dei Colli Ripani Passerina “Ninfa Ripana”, 2004, Marche

Verdicchio has been the shining star of white wine from the Marche since Fazzi-Battaglia hit the market with its fish shaped bottle over thirty years ago.Lesser known whites were pushed even farther into the background.

The Offida zone in Ascoli Piceno province is a relatively new DOC, having attained that status in 2001. Here, those once forgotten grapes are given their due. Passerina, the local name for the more widely planted Biancame, has risen from blending obscurity to join the ranks of authentic and interesting native varietals. It is bottled in both dry and passito styles and some producers use it for Brut and Vin Santo.

This version combines the smoothness and mildly bitter nuttiness of Verdicchio with the hazelnut-dewy pine- resin of a Fiano from Campania. Neither of those stalwarts has the buzzy acidity, pinpoint flavors and minerality of this eye opener from the Ripana hills. Its texture and lively mouthfel make it a suitable companion for salty antipasti, shellfish, or fish-based soups.