Over the years, I’ve had countless bottles of Italian wine. There are several types that I love on a consistent basis; for example Brunello di Montalcino.  However, when I want a comforting, delicious, complex, and very sensual wine, I am never disappointed by Italian Merlots.  Below are tasting notes for two recent wonderful examples, and following that, a list of Merlots to seek out. Hint: if you can find them locally, they’ll go great with Turkey!

2005 Avignonesi Desiderio:   This is 100% pure Merlot from the respected producer located in the picturesque hill top town of Montepulciano. Although 2005 is considered a “lesser” vintage, since it comes sandwiched between two great vintages, this wine did not disappoint. It’s pure purple in the glass. The nose is heaven with wonderful aromas of dried herbs, ripe berries and that unmistakable minerality that I always seem to find in Italian Merlot. Flavors match the nose, but the texture of the wine is what makes it worth it.  It’s seamless, smooth, velvety, but with enough acidity and tannin to keep everything balanced. Delicious stuff.  93 points.

2005 Avignonesi Desiderio
Next up, was a wonderful wine from the hills of Lazio outside Rome. The 2006 Falesco Montiano Merlot is pure heaven. Made by renowned consultant Riccardo Cotarella, Montiano is consistently one of Italy’s best Merlot. It’s pure berry, licorice and herb flavors are framed by slight toasty oak and mouth watering acidity. The nose is full with berries, black olive and pipe tobacco. Long and caressing on the finish. You can drink this now or cellar it for 3-5 years. Excellent stuff.  94 points.

2006 Falesco Montiano

You can read more about Falesco here: Fattoria Falesco

Here are some additional Merlots worth drinking. I’ve listed approximate retail pricing so you know what you’re getting into. Clearly the first two are not for the faint of heart or wallet, but they are also once in a lifetime wines.
Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Masseto:  Masseto may well be the king of Italian Merlot.  Deservedly so.  $250-300
Tua Rita Redigaffi:  If Masseto is the king, this is the Queen. But you couldn’t prove it by me. $350
Fattoria Petrolo Galatrona:  Inky, black. Simply delicious. It has the weight of top flight Australian Shiraz.  $75
Planeta Merlot:  From Sicily. A consistently excellent Merlot. Typically, a bit riper than it’s northern counterparts. $40
Castello Banfi Mandrielle:  Closer in style to Bordeaux.  Displays wonderful polish and the mineral characteristic I love so well.  Also a solid value. $30
San Giusto a Rentennano La Ricolma:  Perhaps most famous for it’s pure Sangiovese Super Tuscan “Percarlo”, the La Ricolma is a Merlot to die for.  Seek it out. $50
Castello di Bossi Girolamo:  Also closer in style to Bordeaux. Displays the dusty, smokier side of Merlot. $45
Castello di Ama Vigna l’Apparita:  Finally, another wallet breaker. If you’re fortunate to find it,  it’s an amazing wine.  $300
Ci vediamo!
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