Italian wine: Wines of Le Marche with Il Conte Villa Prandone
- WTI Magazine #164 Jun 17, 2023
The Marche region is one of what I consider one of the lesser discovered regions of Italy. Located in central Italy surrounded by the regions of Umbria, Emilia Romagna, Abruzzo and touching Tuscany and Lazio.
It’s located along the Adriatic Sea with hills and mountains that roll down to the sea. This varied geography creates a unique microclimate. I had the opportunity to taste some great wines from Il Conte Villa Prandone located in the Marche that I’m sharing today.
The winery – Il Conte Villa Prandone
Il Conte Villa Prandone began in 1950 when Amilcare De Angelis planted about 17 acres for sharecropping. The winery is in the medieval village of Monteprandone in the province of Ascoli Piceno in the southern part of Marche. In 1988 Amilcare’s son, Marino, took over the business and established the name it is known as today. He named it after his father, which they called the count or “lu kont” in local dialect. Today Marino is joined by his three sons that help him operate the winery in all its elements.
The winery has about 123 acres of which 49 acres are leased. The vineyards are located at 150-200 meters above sea level on southwest facing slopes. The average age of the vines are 30 years old with the oldest vineyards aged at 50 years old. The soils in the vineyards are primarily clay and limestone. The winery makes sure to reduce yields and practice thinning with selective harvesting to ensure a higher quality. The goal of Il Conte Villa Prandone is to make wines with “fruit identity and drinkability”. They produce about 250,000 bottles annually from primarily native grapes to include Pecorino, Passerina, Montepulciano and Sangiovese with other small lots of other grapes.
Il Conte Villa Prandone practices several ways in which they practice sustainability including not using synthetic or chemical herbicides and pesticides. They reuse waste material at the winery and are slowly converting to self-consumption of energy with their photovoltaic system. They protect their biodiversity by preserving the flora and fauna within their environment. They have a training program with the University of Urbino to share knowledge and propose agronomic solutions for their vineyard management and winemaking practices.
The 2019 Il Conte Villa Prandone Marinus Piceno Superiore DOP is a blend of 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese. The grapes are softly pressed and fermented for 12-18 days preserved in stainless steel for 3 months before aging 1 year in oak. Dark ruby in the glass the aromas were intense filled with blackberries and cherries. This full-bodied wine had a rustic side with rich fruit of dark berries with moderate tannins backed by nice acidity with a little spice and lengthy finish. This wine in 2020 was listed in Wine Spectator's Top 100 selections. ABV 14% SRP $35
The 2019 Il Conte Villa Prandone Zipolo Marche Rosso IGP is a blend of 60% Montepulciano, 20% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot grapes. The grapes are fermented for 15-25 days and spent 16-24 months in oak with an additional 12 months in the bottle. Deep ruby color with purple hues. Aromas of blackberries, plum and raspberries with notes of vanilla. A medium bodied wine with juicy acidity, silky tannins and ripe fruits of those on the nose. ABV 14.5% SRP $42
The 2019 Il Conte Villa Prandone IX Prandone Merlot Marche IGP is made from 100% Merlot grapes from 25-year-old vines. This wine is only made in the best vintages in limited quantities.
The grapes go through a slow fermentation for 25-30 days in concrete and an additional 30 months aging between oak, concrete and amphora plus an additional year in the bottle. A deep ruby color with purple highlights. A rich nose of ripe raspberries, blackberries, black cherry and violets. A wonderfully complex wine that was smooth and elegant with great fruit and acidity with a touch of oak on the finish. For sure my favorite wine of the three with the two others close behind. ABV 14.5% SRP $114