To find truly great values, a wine adventurer must go global and possess the will to seek unexpected places. Case in point: Italian Merlot. In the top ten list of things one would do in the Italian section of a wine store, buying a bottle of Umbrian Merlot would not likely be one of them. But then you’d be missing out on the vast potential of a great new land, like Christopher Columbus sailing past America. The silky-smooth texture, vibrant fruit and excellent balance of the 2009 FALESCO Merlot from Umbria, in Central Italy, is quite a discovery. Steeped in local color and rustic in character, how much would you pay—even if just for an hour it takes you to drink the bottle—to feel like you’re an Italian local dining al fresco at a table placed in the midst of green pastures? How about 12 bucks? Now you’ve discovered the meaning of true value. At this price, a red wine that is latitudes and longitudes above in quality in comparison to ones you’ll land in North America. –J.M.
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