Proprietor Riccardo Cotarella's 1997 Montiano vino da tavola (100% Merlot, bottled unfined and unfiltered after spending 12 months in new French oak) is fabulous. This sensational wine is one of the finest Merlots made in Italy.
Lazio is the region in which Rome is located, though for many reasons, Lazio is often overlooked in discussions about Italian wines. That’s because historically, Lazio, the seventh largest wine producing region in Italy, was notable mostly for making very large quantities of unremarkable white wines poured nearly round the clock in Rome’s cafes. Lazio white was cheap and easy to drink, and generally made from Malvasia or Trebbiano grapes. There still are plenty of mediocre whites, and a few reds, produced from Lazio’s 120,000 acres of vineyards. But in the last decade some Lazio producers have refocused their businesses on making quality wines that reflect Lazio terroir and tradition. Lazio has 25 DOCs, and about 80 percent of the wine produced is white. Many grapes are allowed, depending on the DOC, and the traditional red grape here is Cesanese, which can make deep, fruity reds, although the popularity of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other French grapes has resulted in fewer Cesanese vineyards. The white grape Grechetto is enjoying a revival, however. In the 2016 Gambero Rosso Italian Wine Guide, the authors wrote that in Lazio in the last few years, “small and large wineries, new and venerable names, have all come up with some truly appealing proposals that are stirring attention at national and international levels.” For the first time in the history of its annual wine guides, Gambero Rosso awarded 3 glass awards – the highest rating -- to Lazio wines in 2015 and 2016.