In the world of wine that at times seems overwhelming in its complexity from the number of varietals, ever-changing rules, new and evolving appellations, wine styles, trends and so on, Italy may pose the greatest challenge. Spend some time unlocking some of its mysteries, however, and you’ll be endlessly rewarded.
A case in point is the relatively obscure grape named Lacrima, an indigenous grape of the Marche region of Italy’s eastern coast. Lacrima translates as ‘tears’, the moniker supposedly earned by the variety’s tendency to release droplets of juice on the thin skin of fully ripe grapes when they inevitably rupture. It is almost entirely found in the DOC Lacrima di Morro d’Alba and owes much to Morro d’Alba-based producer Mario Lucchetti who played a pivotal role in its survival and modern day renaissance.
Azienda Agricola Mario Lucchetti is the third-generation estate that he helms alongside son Paolo, daughter-in-law Tiziana and acclaimed winemaking consultant Alberto Mazzoni. It now produces four separate iterations of Lacrima, including ultra small quantities of a highly sought after Amarone-styled example, as well as a Verdicchio on 34 acres that Mario began planting in the early 1980s.
We were able to sit and taste through the current vintage of Mario Lucchetti wines with Paolo and Tiziana a couple of months back prior to their release. It feels like we’ve been waiting a lifetime for these wines to arrive – that’s how much we liked them.
As we quizzed them on farming and winemaking techniques, the pair repeatedly stressed the hands-on, small scale approach they take in every aspect of production, from employing hand harvesting to ensure optimum selection to using only organic treatments and forbidding the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides altogether. They use nothing but ambient yeasts and renounce the use of oak, or other grapes for that matter, in order to showcase 100% Lacrima at it’s unmasked best. This is worth noting in a DOC which allows blending of up to 15% of Montepulciano or Verdicchio to help round out a vintage.
Light to medium-bodied, Lucchetti’s reds are perfect summertime wines that will pair nicely with lighter fare, outdoors on one of Seattle’s warmer afternoons, perhaps with a slight chill on them. And don’t be fooled – these wines do have some aging potential (3-6 years). They’re also priced fantastically, so don’t be shy about grabbing a bottle or three next time you’re in the store. Give them a shot and let us know what you think!