Leopardo Felici is a rising star and champion of the Verdicchio grape from the small town of Apiro in the Marche. Although red grapes are grown in the area, Andrea chooses to focus on the grape that speaks most profoundly to him. At a young age of 35 Felici is a rare breed, a charming and charismatic wine connoisseur who also happens to be a talented farmer and winemaker. The family’s small estate has been under Felici’s direction since 2008 and has since been praised for producing some of the most elegant examples of the Marche’s signature grape, Verdicchio. He owns about 10 hectares of organically farmed vines and only produces a limited amount of wine each vintage. Apiro offers one of the most notable microclimates, here the vineyards shares influence from the sea and the mountains and sit at a higher elevation. As a result the wines are noted for being fresh and vibrant.
Before Leopardo Felici was allowed to take over production, his father Andrea sent him out to learn about wine and service in a restaurant setting. Leo quickly rose in rank among the nation’s top sommeliers, working in some of the greatest restaurants around the world including London’s Savoy Grill and Florence’s famed Enoteca, Pinchiorri. It was during this time when he learned about great wines of the world and how his Verdicchio deserved a place in the spotlight. He has brought this experience and insight to the property and this mentality shows in his wines. Once Leo became a winemaker he began transitioning the estate to organic farming, not because it was trendy at the time but because he wanted to create the purest expression of the grape possible. In fact, he decided to forgo stating “organic” on the label because he desires the quality of the wine to speak for itself.
The estate bottles a basic Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore cuvée and a single-vineyard cru Il Cantico della Figura, which is fermented and aged 12 months on lees in cement tanks, then spends six months in bottle before release. To prove his ideas and mentality are making waves, this is the 4th year in a row his Verdicchio dei Catelli di Jesi Riserva Il Cantino della Figura has received 3 glasses Gambero Rosso: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, a huge achievement which is clearly well deserved.