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Vino cotto in Loro Piceno

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Date: August 24th 2014 Event: Presentation of wines in the medieval village of Loro Piceno, Marche Region, Italy. The wines of this area are famous and are called vino cotto.

Vino cotto (literally ‘cooked wine’), is a type of wine from the Marche and Abruzzo in Central Italy, made primarily in the hills of the Province of Ascoli Piceno and the Province of Macerata. It is a strong ruby-colored wine, usually semi-sweet, and traditionally drunk in small glasses with puddings and cheese. t is produced from the must of any of the local varieties of grapes, heated in a copper vessel until reduced to a half or third of its original volume, and then fermented. It can be aged for years, barrels being topped up with each harvest. It is mostly made by private individuals for their own use as, under EU rules, it cannot be sold as wine. A few wineries produce and sell it commercially as a foodstuff.

Vino cotto production is documented as being produced in the 3rd century BC by the Picenes and again from the 16th century AD. The Roman patricians, the emperors and the popes were reputed to savour this drink at the end of their lavish banquets, although the sources are vague between the various forms of cooked wine.

The raw material comes from any of the red and white grapes of the region, particuiarly damaged bunches, and may include the pomace left over from normal winemaking. Thus it is a way to ensure that none of the harvest is wasted. This material is crushed and cooked in a large cauldron over a fire for 24 hours, which gives its characteristic aromas. Traditionally two men attended it, taking turns to sleep and constantly stirring and skimming off the scum that formed on the surface. The wort is cooked until a half or a third of the volume remains, depending on how sweet it is to be. In the Marche some add a quince for every quintal of must to flavor the drink. Once cooled, the must is transferred to oak or chestnut casks where it is left to ferment. It is racked off the lees once or twice.

The wine is aged in old wine barrels for at least a year. It is often combined with and used to top up previous years’ barrels. Due to the cooking, the wine is very stable and keeps well in heat and open containers.

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Loro Piceno

The Loro Piceno skyline and the essence itself of its ancient history are represented and symbolized by the majestic Castle from the Early Middle Age, that houses an extraordinary kitchen from the 17th century equipped with all the ancient furnishings. The life of the feudal village and the district has always been carried out all around the high defensive walls of the Castle: indeed the district is still the heart and the body from where twist and turn ancient alleys, houses and golden fire bricked palaces, churches full of art, museums, wine cellar of vino cotto (a form of wine, from Marche region, in which the must is reduced by boiling before fermentation), softly downgrading to the modernity. You will find astonishing the views of a landscape where the eye runs from the sea up to the mountains, from the Conero Mount to Sibillini Mounts (the “Motni Azzurri” as Leopardi used to call them), up to the Gran Sasso, after having passed gentle hills and a nice overlying of delightful crests.

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