This was an experiment. French Merlots are known for their long ageability. But what about Italian Merlots? How would this one taste after nearly 20 years in the bottle? There are legendary Merlots from Italy—like Ornellaia’s Masseto, Tua Rita’s Redigaffi and Le Macchiole’s Messorio—that are known for their long shelf life. But what about a 1997 vintage of Montiano, the flagship wine of Falesco? Located in Umbria—a region bordering Tuscany and north of Rome whose rolling green hills possess numerous castles, cathedrals and medieval towns that preserve an Old World style of living that’s still present today—the winery has been overseen by the Cotarella family since 1979. Falesco makes one of the best, and most pure and authentic, value-priced Merlots in the international market (see our review of the Falesco ‘09 Merlot Umbria), and has made their name on the Montiano, one of Italy’s most prestigious Merlots but priced nowhere near their kin referenced above.
Indeed, the 1997 vintage Montiano Merlot is very much “of the place,” containing that mysterious and undefinable X-factor that makes an object a thing that can’t be from anywhere else—for example, Belgian chocolate, New York pizza, Russian caviar or Brittany oysters. There is an unmistakeable Old World charm and authenticity to the Montiano, with its rustic overtone, prominent woodsy character and very low alcohol level at 13%. The wine’s deliciously acidic rush of red cherry is still intact after nearly 20 years and supported by enchanting notes of rose petal, plum and other purple fruit. A feathery-light texture adds sex appeal and allure. Very distinguished and prestigious wine for an extremely fair price.
Conclusion of the experiment: no doubt about it, the Montiano at almost 20 years old has longevity. What a beautiful thing: a wine for the ages that’s not out of reach for the common folk. –J.M.