Le Macchiole 2005 Messorio

If merlot tends to be flabby and undefined in the States (perhaps due more to the popularity of this style than to flawed fruit or winemaking), Italian versions demonstrate the heights of beauty to which this varietal can soar. In 1975 the late Eugenio Campolmi purchased the rustic Le Macchiole winery (located in Bolgheri, also home to Ornellaia and its Merlot masterpiece, Masseto), and by 1983 he had begun the long process of transforming the property into the world-renowned estate it is today. Le Macchiole 2005 Messorio (www.lemacchiole.it, $320) has an amazingly fleshy structure from which hang juicy, racy flavors of ripe plum and black raspberry supported by pure, silky-crisp acidity. It is awesomely complex, with lift and style.