Cantine Belisario is a high-quality co-op in Matelica, a town nestled in the Apennine Mountains of central Italy’s Marche region. The members’ vineyards are located in the Alte Valle Esina, a north-south-oriented valley 60 kilometers from the sea. The inland location and orientation of the valley, combined with mountains that ring the valley, ensure cool nights and freshness in the wines.
Belisario is one of just a dozen or so producers in the small Verdicchio di Matelica DOC/DOCG (compared with the much larger Verdicchio di Jesi DOC/DOCG to the northeast and closer to the sea). The soils in Matelica are richer in clay and limestone, while Jesi has more sand. The combination of soils and geography in Matelica results in wines that tend to have higher acidity, but also more structure and body. There’s also a salty minerality in many Verdicchio di Matelica, thanks in part to salt springs (le salse) in the valley.
Verdicchio is according to Ian D’Agata in his book Native Wine Grapes of Italy, “arguably Italy’s greatest native white grape variety.” It’s certainly one of the greatest, and capable of making easy but still interesting everyday wines as well as serious, age-worthy ones. In the former category, Belisario’s Le Salse is helping bring Verdicchio to a much-deserved greater prominence in the U.S.
On July 7, 2020, Eric Asimov selected Le Salse as one of three wines to try for his New York Times Wine School feature, Verdicchio di Matelica, to Discover or Revisit.