The Collio DOC region on the frontier of Italy and Slovenia has been controlled variously by the Austrians, Slavs, Italians and French, with Italy taking possession after WW1. Rumored to have been originally planted by Napoleon's forces, Merlot has been prominently planted in the area since the early 19th century and, through the processes of mutation and massale selection (selecting cuttings from desirable plants for replanting), any transplant that spends a long time in a new land becomes significantly different from its original and better suited to its new home. Which is to say: Collio Merlot is delicious. The Marco Felluga winery was founded in the late 19th century and is now run by Ilaria Felluga, the sixth generation, using the long-held principles of sustainability to produce world-class, complex wines. Her father, the late Roberto, mystified his contemporaries by aging his top white wines for 8-10 years before selling them to prove his conviction that the wines were truly world class. This entry-level Merlot, by comparison, is aged for a paltry (!) five years before release. The flavors of just ripe cherries, spiced currant jelly and violets ride on a lithe frame. Would be perfect with a Friulian specialty: gnocchi with meat sauce.