Falesco Tellus Merlot Umbria 2013

Dark ruby color with slight translucence; blackberry, plum, cherry on the nose; dark cherry, blackberry, plum, strawberry, red and purple fruits, even walnut on the palate.

Medium body, easy drinker; silky tannins that continue to show on the long finish and flash some grip in first glass; benefits from air time in large glass or decanter, opening to reveal more depth of fruits and less insistent tannin. Reserved acidity, balanced; some complexity for this price point. Oak and mocha from six months in small French barrels, but by no means offensive (much less than Falesco’s top-shelf merlot, Montiano Lazio). This is not a smooth, insipid merlot with scant character; you get serious Italian red wine attitude, something you expect from Falesco. Pair with lamb, steaks, other flavorful meats.

Falesco takes pride in its multi-generational commitment to family and quality wine. Brothers Renzo and Riccardo Cotarella founded the winery in 1979 by building on the traditions of their father, Domenico. Today, daughters Dominga, Marta, and Enrica are vital parts of the leadership team, and the company website boasts of the fourth generation grandchildren preparing to continue the tradition. Merlot is one of their specialties; Tellus is their entry-level merlot bottling.

Umbria is a mountainous region in central Italy. It is the only Italian region that has no coastline or border with another country; its most famous towns are Assisi (associated with St. Francis) and Norcia (associated with St. Benedict). It is especially noted for its rich red wines, including Rosso di Montefalco. Many towns in Umbria were heavily damaged by the Central Italy earthquakes in August, 2016.

Falesco Tellus Merlot Umbria 2013 delivers great value, especially after some contact with air, and demonstrates how merlot can be assertive, too. $14-16

Falesco Winery website

Other photos: Falesco Winery, Cotarella family.