Falesco is a 900-acre estate in Montefiascone, Lazio. The estate was founded in 1979 when the brothers Renzo and Riccardo Cotarella, both trained as winemakers, began buying vineyards and making wine in a region that had largely been abandoned by severe Italian winemakers. Since then the family has added estates in Umbria and other parts of Lazio, and the brothers and their adult children run a modern enterprise that makes a broad portfolio of wines. Falesco makes 2.6 million bottles of wine a year, including reds, whites, and roses. Their premium bottlings are Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignons.
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 vast 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 broad, 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 three glass awards – the highest rating — to Lazio wines in 2015 and 2016.