To help sort through the hundreds of Italian varietals, I thought it would be interesting to take on some of Italy’s most important grapes, one at a time. I will do my best to summarize each grape’s history, where it is grown, and the types of wines that will come from it. Let’s start with Falanghina, thought to be one of Italy’s oldest varietals.

[vc_row type=”full_width” background_style=”normal” css=”.vc_custom_1404842621241{padding-top: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/1″][title_subtitle title_color=”#902363″ title_size=”26″ title=”What’s in the name?” subtitle_color=”#333333″ subtitle_size=”17″ with_separator=”no” align=”left” subtitle=”Falanghina derives from falangae, a Latin word for the poles used to support vines in Ancient Roman vineyards.”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Romans are responsible for modern winemaking as we know it, taking these poles, vineyard grids and even clippings of varietals along with them wherever they travelled. These poles were also a major improvement on the way the Greeks grew wine. The Greeks left wine to be grown on the ground, leaving it very susceptible to mold and rot. The Roman innovation was one major step for wine.

The mountain where the poor farmer named Falernum slept is the one right behind Nick and Pasquale.

[vc_row type=”full_width” background_style=”normal” css=”.vc_custom_1404842621241{padding-top: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/1″][title_subtitle title_color=”#902363″ title_size=”26″ title=”Why so famous?” subtitle_color=”#333333″ subtitle_size=”17″ with_separator=”no” align=”left” subtitle=”Falanghina is thought to have been one of the varietals that made up the mythical Falernum, Rome’s original ‘gran cru’ wine.”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

It’s no coincidence that our friends at REGINA VIARUM grow Falanghina, alongside Primitivo right in the heart of this production zone. The famous Monte Massico, where Regina Viarum is located, may even be where Bacchus blessed Falernum with the miracle of Falanghina! READ THE FULL STORY

[vc_row type=”full_width” background_style=”normal” css=”.vc_custom_1404842621241{padding-top: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/1″][title_subtitle title_color=”#902363″ title_size=”26″ title=”Where is it grown today?” subtitle_color=”#333333″ subtitle_size=”17″ with_separator=”no” align=”left” subtitle=”Falanghina is to this day synonymous with Campania, grown from the north in Falernum down through the Amalfi Coast.”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

More inland, Falanghina can be found in the very famous Benevento and Irpinia regions, and further south into the Cilento, a beautiful natural reserve that stretches close to the border of Calabria.

Falanghina is also grown in Lazio and Abruzzo, which we will get to later!

[vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1404848035117{padding-top: 35px !important;padding-bottom: 35px !important;background-color: #f7f7f7 !important;}” type=”full_width” background_style=”normal”][vc_column width=”1/1″][title_subtitle title_color=”#902363″ title_size=”17″ title=”What are the most important sites where Falanghina is grown?” subtitle_color=”#333333″ subtitle_size=”17″ with_separator=”no” align=”left” subtitle=”For my dollar, the most interesting expressions are found either in the Campi Flegrei or the Benevento.”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

falanghina-craters

Campi Flegrei

The Campi Flegrei

The Campi Flegrei are west of Naples, right along the coast. This is a national park with over 70 “mini volcanoes” that erupted over time, with the most recent eruption occurring about 5,000 years ago. These mini volcanoes, along with the craters they have created, are certainly worth a visit! These constant eruptions didn’t only leave behind a beautiful park, but also a sandy, volcanic ash that is full of minerals and great for wine growing.

Vineyards here need incredible attention, as the sandy soil is prone to erosion. Most producers seek to create a stable terrace system to sure up their vineyard, but this work is a constant battle with the elements.

The wines here are delicate and possess incredible minerality, with aromas of golden apple and unripe peach, giving almost a sour note to the wine.

Campania Avellino Vineyard

The Avellino

Moving from the Flegrei to the Benevento, we are climbing in altitude. These vineyards are at elevations of 400 meters and rising! Driving directly from the Flegrei to Benevento is like travelling from the beautiful Campania coast to Piedmont. Even during summer days, it’s not rare to find cool temperatures, and there is the all-important day to night temperature variation, contributing to more complex wines. The wines in the Benevento are clearly influenced by the climate and also by the clay soils in which they grow. This clay like Tufa can be found from Benevento down into the Irpinia and it has an impact on Campania’s three prized white wines: Falanghina, Fiano and Greco di Tufo.

The wines in the Benevento are more floral than their counterparts from the Flegrei, and they also possess fantastic acidity. Amazingly, the harvest in the Benevento often occurs several weeks after the Flegrei.

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CANTINE MUCCI decided to blend Falanghina with the native Trebbiano and also create a 100% Falanghina that sees a bit of barrel aging. The result was overwhelmingly positive, and a version of Falanghina that is quite unique. Mucci’s Falanghina is full of tropical fruits, ripe melon, and is quite full bodied. Tasting this wine side by side with a delicate Falanghina from the Campi Flegrei is enough to make your head spin. This is proof of the power of terroir!

2013 was also the first release of Cantine Mucci Falanghina/Pecorino Spumante, a really surprising sparkler that is full of freshness and acidity and a similar note of tropical fruit to the Cantico Falanghina.

FalanghinaGrapes03 spumante_mucci

[vc_row type=”full_width” background_style=”normal” css=”.vc_custom_1404842621241{padding-top: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}”][vc_column_inner width=”1/1″][title_subtitle title=”Do you find sparkling Falanghina in Campania?” title_color=”#902363″ title_size=”26″ subtitle=”With more and more different sparkling wines popping up all over the world, I expect to see more producers working with a sparkling Falanghina.” subtitle_color=”#333333″ subtitle_size=”17″ with_separator=”no” align=”left”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row]

In this series where we cover different varietals you will see me come back to the topic of sparkling wine as it’s a segment of the market that is growing tremendously and a challenge winemakers are taking up with varietals that are not known as “sparkling varietals.” There are certainly already a handful of producers experimenting with both blended and 100% sparkling Falanghina. These producers are confident in their ability to create something interesting, particularly because Falanghina is known to have great acidity and minerality, good indicators for high quality sparkling wines. Hopefully more quality Falanghina, both still and sparkling, will be seen in the US market in the years to come!

Take a look at where you can FIND OUR WINES and pick up some Falanghina!!