Cantine Belisario Cambrugiano Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva with Brodetto alla Recanatese (#ItalianFWT)

Let’s enjoy the last days of summer with a glass of Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva, a wonderful white wine from Italy’s Marche region, and a simple seafood dish from the same region.

I’m not quite ready to let go of summer. I never am. I’m a summer baby, crave sunshine, and want to hold onto every last bit of the season’s carefree vibes. So let’s hold onto it a bit longer, and let’s take a trip to Italy’s Adriatic coast. We’ll pick up a bottle of wine in the hilly terrain of Marche in central Italy, then we’ll jump in the car and drive about an hour to the port town of Recanati, and have a bowl of the local seafood dish with whatever’d been freshly caught that day. So maybe this is just a virtual trip for now, but sounds good right?




We’ll be picking up our wine in the town of Matelica, which lies in a valley flanked on the east and west sides by sub-ranges of the Apennine Mountains. Here we’ll find our wine. The white of choice is Verdicchio, a very refreshing wine with lots of bright citrus and apple notes, hints of almonds, flowers, hints of herbs, and lots of minerality. It can also have a hint of bitterness, but usually in a pleasant way. It’s very food-friendly, and it comes in various styles – sparkling, dry, and dessert. It can also be made a simple everyday sipper, or as a more complex wine. 

Grappe de Verdicchio (Marche -Italie).jpg
Image borrowed from Wikipedia.

 In Native Wine Grapes of Italy, Ian D’Agata opines that it is “arguably Italy’s greatest native white grape variety,” due in part to the grape’s ability to adapt to and transmit different terroirs. 

He notes: 

Verdicchio’s trump cards are its tendency to ripen slowly and evenly (allowing for complex wines) and to always maintain high levels of tartaric acidity, meaning the wines can be both crisp and refreshing as well as very ageworthy.

We’ve tasted the “little green one” on this blog before. The last time we took an in-depth look at a bottle of Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, which is also in the Marche, and you can read a bit more about the grape’s history in that post. We also sipped some Castelli di Jesi in A Sustainable Sampler Pack with Umani Ronchi.



Verdicchio di Matellica vs. Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi

So what’s the difference between these two areas? Well, for one thing, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi is a much larger region. The Matelica zone is about a tenth of the size with about 120 hectares (296 acres) under vine. It’s tiny. Vineyards are also at a higher elevation, and farther from the coast. The soils in Matelica are richer in clay and limestone, while Castelli di Jesi’s are sandier.

Map borrowed from

In terms of what you can expect to taste in the glass, Matelica’s wines are generally thought of as being fuller and more structured with more acidity and minerality. (This isn’t always a given anymore as Castelli di Jesi reduced its yields and quality has improved overall, but those are the generalizations.) The wines of Matelica are also thought to be more age-worthy and long-lived, while the wines of Castelli di Jesi are considered better for early drinking. 

In both cases, the wine must be made up of at least 85% Verdicchio, with up to 15% Trebbiano Toscana or Malvasia permitted. Both areas also have Riserva DOCG zones for aged wines – 2 years are required for Matelica, and 18 months for Castelli di Jesi.

The Wine: Cantine Ballisario Cambrugiano Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva 2016

Image borrowed from Belisario's website.

Our wine today comes from Cantine Belisario, a high-quality co-op founded in 1971. It’s the largest producer of Verdicchio di Matelica, but remember that this is a very small zone. They’re the biggest fish in a very small pond – and the pond only has about a dozen fish altogether. All of their vineyards are located within a ten-minute drive of the winery. 

Image borrowed from Belisario's website.

They make several Verdicchios, including one riserva named Cambrugiano. According to their website, it was the first Verdicchio in the “Riserva” category, which they have been making since 1988. 

On the day we opened the Cambrugiano Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva 2016, I picked up notes of ripe lemons, brine, stone, white flowers, and fresh herbs. Notes of grapefruit and tangerine skin joined in on the palate, as well as rounder fruit notes like peach and star fruit, and almond skin. It had a leesy texture on the midpalate, bright acidity, and lots of stony minerality on the finish. 

In one of his Wine School columns on the subject of Verdicchio di Matelica, Eric Asimov meditates on the uncanny ability of these wines to offer “uncomplicated refreshment,” and yet “express more complex aromas.” They’re somehow paradoxically uncomplicated and complex at the same time. I could totally see that in this wine. While it was good now and undeniably refreshing, I was definitely also curious as to where this wine would go in a few years. I certainly think it could age for a few more since it was tightly wound at its core, despite showing lovely fresh fruit notes now. 


The Pairing: Brodetto alla Recanatese


I went in search of a dish from the Marche to try with this wine, and I found one that had a similar spirit of uncomplicated complexity – Brodetto alla Recanatese (or brodetto di pesce di Porto Recanati), or fish broth in the style of the port of Recanati, which is located about an hour and twenty away from Matelica driving east to the coast. Brodetto (spelled in various different ways depending on the dialect) are brothy fish stews that originated with fishermen who’d make it with whatever they’d caught that day. Many towns, especially along the Adriatic coast have their own particular versions. It’s not unlike bouillabaisse in Provence and other fish stews you find in coastal towns, but these are lighter in texture. 

Skyline from castle tower
Image borrowed from Wikipedia

Most brodetto recipes use tomatoes in the broth, but Recanati’s is unique in that it has none, but it uses saffron to flavor the broth. Other than that, the broth is extremely simple – onions are sautéed in olive oil, water or broth are added, along with a dry white wine, and it’s seasoned with salt, pepper, and saffron. You can use whatever mix of seafood is local and fresh, and it’s eaten with toasted bread arranged in the serving bowls to soak up the broth, although I opted to keep the bread on the side so I could dunk it in. I opted for a mix of shellfish on this occasion with mussels, scallops, and shrimp. I’ve included a recipe at the end, but you might not really need one beyond what I just described.

All good things here! There’s such a lovely simplicity to the broth, but the onions and the saffron brought depth of flavor, and I have to admit that I couldn’t resist adding some garlic as well. It made for a lovely and satisfying light meal. It was a very easy match with the wine that had similar depth belied by its medium body and refreshing flavors, and each reflected the minerality of the other. 


The producer recommends having this wine with elaborate seafood dishes, white meats, and

semi-aged cheeses.

By coincidence, I happened to have a bottle on hand of the Azienda Santa Barbara Verdicchio dei Casteli di Jesi 2019, the current vintage of the same wine that I explored the last time I looked at Verdicchio. I decided to use a little of that bottle for cooking, and then had the rest with the leftovers a couple of days later. It certainly worked as well, but I could definitely see the difference in price point and style. With the Matelica there was more of a conversation going on between the food and the wine, where the Casteli di Jesi was a simple accompaniment that went down easy. 

While this wine and dish come from the same region, white wines from many other areas of Italy would certainly work well – Soave Classico and Vermentino both come to mind. I think Chablis and Muscadet would also be excellent with the shellfish.

I also think Verdicchio is a good alternative for those who like Sauvignon Blanc, but are in the mood for something a little different. 


Taken for the producer’s website:

Produced since 1988, and obtained only from Verdicchio grapes vinified by low-temperature maceration.

It is left to mature in steel and in toasted oak barrels for at least a year, and it ages for one more year in bottle.


I picked this bottle up at K&L in San Fransisco for $21.99, which I found to be a Solid Value. As I said, I’d like to see how this wine ages, as I’d best it’ll get some added dimensions over time. 

Seafood, Mussels, Shellfish
Stew, Soups
Servings: 4 to 6
By: Nicole Ruiz Hudson
Brodetto alla Recanatese with Shellfish

Brodetto alla Recanatese with Shellfish

Prep Time: 20 MinCooking Time: 30 MinTotal Time: 50 Min
This recipe is very loosely based on this recipe from Cucina Italiana. Feel free to swap in whatever fish or shellfish you have on hand. No need to get too stuck on the quantities either. If you’re using fish, flour and lightly brown the fish before poaching in the broth.


  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Generous pinch of saffron
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • Approximately 1 quart of broth or water, or as needed (I used a combination of lobster stock, fish stock, and water. Note: using only water will result in a more lightly flavored dish.)
  • 5 to 2 lbs of mussels, cleaned and debearded (discard any that are broken or that don’t clamp shut when tapped)
  • 1 cup large scallops
  • 1 cup shrimp
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parsley, chopped, for serving (optional)
  • Toasted or grilled slices of bread for serving


  1. Sauté onions in olive oil ( about 2 tablespoons or as needed) with a little salt and pepper in a large pan or Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat until the onions are soft and translucent. If needed, add a splash of water to the pan if the onions begin to brown. Add the garlic and saffron to the pan and continue to cook for another minute or so.
  2. Add the white wine to the pan and stir to deglaze if necessary. Add the broth or water to the pan, bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer and stir. Allow the mixture to cook for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the flavors to combine and for the liquid to reduce a bit. Liquid should come up about an inch to an inch and a half in depth, add more liquid as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then add the mussels to the pan, and layer the scallops and shrimp on top. Cover and continue cooking for about 3 minutes, or just until the mussels open, the shrimp turns pink, and the scallops are no longer translucent. Remove the mussels as they open, uncovering the pot as needed, and discard any that do not open.
  4. Serve shellfish in a bowl with broth poured on top. Garnish with parsley and serve toast on the side.
Did you make this recipe?
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For more posts related to Verdicchio check out:


The rest of the Italian Food, Wine, Travel blogging group is exploring the wines of Marche, particularly Verdicchio Matelica & Jesi, hosted by Marcia of Joy of Wine is hosting. You may read her invitation here.

If you are reading this soon enough, feel free to join our Twitter chat on Saturday, September 4th. We'll be live at 8am PT by following the hashtag #ItalianFWT.

Check out the rest of the group's posts for more pairing ideas with these wines:

Additional sources used for this post and extra reading:

This post contains affiliate links, including these Amazon Associate links, from which I might receive a commission at no cost to you.



  1. Your brodetto sounds amazing and I can see that it would be a great pairing with this crisp white wine.

  2. I love the story telling here! Thank you for this little trip to the Adriatic Coast!
    I had no idea there were so few producers in Metalica. I really would like to do a side by side with these two regions.
    The dish sounds delicious. I often opt for cioppino or mussels with Italian coastal white wines and I like the idea of this fish stew without the tomatoes. I think it lends itself more to the briny notes in the wine and I really want to try it!

    1. Thanks Robin, And I feel the same way -- I LOVE cioppino myself, but was intrigued by the idea of going with a stew without the tomatoes. It's particularly nice because it's so quick.

  3. Great post Nicole!Love the details. In that dish did you put all the fish in at the same time? I would think the mussels might need more time to cook than the scallops and shrimp. At any rate I've no doubt that Verdicchio would've been magical with this dish!

    1. Great question Marcia- thanks! I did put them in at the same time, but I layered the shrimp and scallops on top so they were a little farther from the heat. I've adjusted recipe a little to reflect that.


Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!