The area known as the Campi Flegrei (meaning Phlegraean Fields) is one of Italy’s most beautiful DOCs, including the islands in the Bay of Naples like Capri, Procida and Ischia. Campi Flegrei are on many people’s minds today because they are the site of a very active volcano. Wines have been made in this area since 700 B.C. Falanghina has been grown here for centuries and was even mentioned by Pliny the Elder, the great philosopher. The area received its denominazione d’origine controllata (D.O.C or D.O.P.) in 1994.
Falanghina here is often grown on the falange which I discussed in previous posts also known as “alla putuelana or Pozzuoli style.” The climate here is of course Mediterranean with long hot summers, but thanks to the breeze and the wonderful volcanic soils, the wines show depth and beautiful aromas and favors with great minerality. Many of the vines in this area are on their own rootstocks. Phylloxera has never come to these vineyards.
Falanghina reigns supreme among the whites while Piedirosso is often used for the red wines. Aglianico is also grown here as well. In addition to still wines, both sparkling wine and passito are made under this denomination.
Going back to the Campi Flegrei volcano, apparently it is a massive underground volcano that has 24 craters over about 90 miles, stretching under the Bay of Naples and the town of Pozzuoli.
I visited Pozzuoli many years ago with an ex-boyfriend whose Grandmother lived there. My recollection is of a very crowded town with people milling everywhere. Sofia Loren also grew up in Pozzuoli interestingly enough. I remember finding it chaotic but fascinating. I will post tomorrow more about the Falanghina from this area and how it differs from the other Falanghina that I tried.
The Falanghina Flegrea variety which is used in the wines in this area, as well as those in the Sannio and Falerno del Massico is the more prized of the two Falanghina varieties, the other one, Falanghina Beneventano is more often seen around Benevento. Often however, the two varieties are also blended. Falanghina Flegrea is thought to be fruiter while Falanghina Beneventano more floral.