Famiglia Cotarella | Umbria
The Cotarella family name is intrinsically linked to some of Italy’s finest wines: Riccardo Cotarella is one of the country’s most revered winemaking consultants, and his brother Renzo is the longstanding chief winemaker at Antinori. Following the lead of their parents, who built their own winery in the 1960s to vinify the grapes from their vineyards in Umbria, the brothers founded the Falesco winery in Lazio in 1979. Here the focus was on showcasing forgotten varieties that had fallen from favour, with the notable launch of Poggio dei Gelsi Est! Est!! Est!!! in 1989, which used the local Roscetto grape to great effect.
True international recognition came in 1995 with the release of Montiano, a Merlot from a specific clone planted in Montefiascone, which quickly became an Italian icon. In 1999 the brothers returned to their roots and purchased the Montecchio and Baschi vineyards in Umbria at the confluence of the Tiber and Paglia rivers. This brought them a chance to work not only with the local Sagrantino grape, but also saw them launch Marciliano, a Cabernet blend of some distinction.
The next significant date came in 2016, when the company’s reins were passed to the next generation: Riccardo and Renzo’s daughters, Dominga, Marta and Enrica. They immediately put their stamp on the company, taking over the stunning Le Macioche estate in Brunello di Montalcino whilst also transitioning their overarching brand from Falesco to Famiglia Cotarella. This enabled them to separately identify the more traditional Falesco range whilst positioning their iconic wines under the Cotarella label.
The Cotarellas built their reputation by both preserving indigenous grapes as well as introducing international varieties to previously unheralded sites. Roscetto was a local variety used in Est! Est!! Est!!! that had fallen out of favour, largely thanks to its low yields. Its thick skin and good acid-to-sugar ratio encouraged them to experiment with harvesting dates and vinification techniques. They soon found that it was not only capable of contributing to a blend, but also made a high-quality wine in its own right. It was a similar hunch, backed by a robustly scientific approach to clonal selection and viticultural techniques, that led to them to believe that Merlot could flourish in the volcanic and clay-rich soils of Lazio – foresight that was rewarded by the creation of the much-heralded Montiano.
Today the Famiglia Cotarella vineyards are located in three neighbouring regions: Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany.