Our Ladies of Loreto

On my odyssey through the world of Italian wine this summer, I was able to visit producers whose wines had intrigued me, but whose terroir I had not yet been able to visit.

And the great thing about visiting wineries is you see where the wine grows: you breathe the same air, feel the sun that warms the vines, and get to know the culture of the territory.

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So on my jaunt through the Marche, I dropped in on Daria Garofoli and her daughter Caterina, and tasted some of their splendid wines. It had been my pleasure to meet them at the last Vinitaly. And I am always happy to meet women winemakers! Yes, I know, there are their husbands, brothers, fathers, and so on, but chatting with the ladies is always more fun. We women are more communicative, don’t you think?

Yours truly, with Our Ladies of Loreto, Daria and Caterina Garofoli

And speaking of ladies… The Garofoli winery is located in Loreto, where the majestic Sanctuary and Basilica of Our Lady of Loreto is located.

Legend has it that the Virgin Mary’s house was flown by angels from the Holy Land to the Marche region, eventually ending up on the hill here in Loreto (yes, visions of The Wizard of Oz and Dorothy!). The little brick house is actually enshrined within the basilica. The story is more complicated than I’m retelling here. Read it for yourself, and by all means, no matter what your faith, visit this magical place!

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The art and architecture in this most beautiful of shrines is flabbergasting. Get a load of this fresco by Melozzo da Forlì painted in the late 1480s.

And this is only a few miles away from Recanati, home to one of Italy’s most famous poets… Giacomo Leopardi!

L’Infinito by Leopardi, and his statue in the town square

You can find Leopardi’s most famous poems strewn all about town on walls, with flowers, in something resembling his handwriting. His statue dominates the town square, and his renowned library in his family’s estate can still be visited. Such inspiration from the surrounding landscape, the famous ‘ermo colle‘ or solitary hill.

Oh, the beauty! Oh, the culture! What do they put in the water around here? Or is it in the wine?

The Garofoli family started making wine during the Risorgimento, back in the late 1800s and began bottling early on. 0_0_orig

This is an area where Fazi-Battaglia made a name for themselves, with the Verdicchio grape making the Marche famous throughout the world. At Garofoli, the 5th generation of the family is now making wine. In 1981, Macrina became the first Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico Superiore to come out in a clear glass Bordeaux-style bottle, no longer the green glass amphora-style bottle. But Podium, especially in the Riserva version, is the winery’s flagship Verdicchio. The Kòmaros rosé, made from Montepulciano grapes, was a true epiphany for me. Its name comes from the ancient term for Conero, a prominent mountain on the Adriatic sea, that also lends its name to the more famous red wine, Rosso del Conero, which Garofoli also makes. And what to say of Kerria, the Lacrima di Morro d’Alba DOC? Its engaging violet color, the fruit, and especially the flowers – violets and roses – and its refreshing lightness were a fun surprise.

The two days I spent in this area were a revelation to me, and all the senses.

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Evidence of the hard work of tasting!

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