Falesco Montiano Lazio IGT 2012

Very deep ruby color approaching ink; red fruit, vanilla, blackberry jam, spice on powerful nose; red fruits, red plum, red currant, leather on the palate.

This 100% merlot is Falesco’s flagship wine and it is a powerhouse for merlot; it smooths out with exposure to air and takes on the rounder, more mellow aspects you expect from merlot, but there no question this is a serious pour. Plenty of oak—a year in French Allier and Trançais barriques. Chocolate and coffee appear in the profile after several sips, emerging as the boldness of the initial pour mellows. Balanced acidity, well-behaved tannins that flirt with silky, medium-to-full body.

The wine is made in Lazio, the wine country southeast of Rome—Rome is the capital of the region. Central Italy is not a place that leaps to mind when you think merlot, but Falesco has been pounding it with skill since 1979, making this merlot since 1993.

The company prides itself on its multi-generational commitment to family and to quality wine. Brothers Renzo and Riccardo Cotarella founded the winery in 1979 by building on the traditions of their father, Domenico. Today, daughters Dominga, Marta, and Enrica are vital parts of the leadership team, and the company website boasts of the fourth generation grandchildren becoming prepared to succeed.

Falesco Montiano Lazio IGT 2012 delivers big wine quality and complexity at reasonable price for this level of wine. $46-50

Falesco website

Other photos: Cotarella family; Falesco winery