Campania Stories 2018: Falanghina from Campi Flegrei

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During the Campania Stories 2018 event this past April, we tried a number of wines made with Falanghina from the Campi Flegrei DOC. Since that time, I have written a number of posts about Falanghina, discovered that there are really two Falanghina varieties – Falanghina Flegrei and Falanghina Beneventano – and much more about this exciting variety. The Campi Flegrei received denominazione d’origine controllata (D.O.C) status in 1994. This area is in the North-West of the capital city of Campania, Naples. Seven municipalities are part of the DOC including the island of Procida. The whole area as I wrote yesterday is on active volcanic craters and thus the soils are naturally filled with ash, minerals and material from the volcano. The soils also have a lot of sand, which has helped protect them from phylloxera which doesn’t like sand. Many vines are very old and are on their own rootstocks still today. Falanghina in this area is of the Flegrea variety. Coda di volpe and Greco also grow here in terms of white varieties. To put Falanghina on the label, the wine needs to be 90% Falanghina, higher than in some other DOCs throughout Italy.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Bay of Naples on a sail boat when I lived in Italy. I went to the three main islands – Capri, Ischia and Procida. While the water was not as crystal clear as I might have hoped, the landscape was breathtaking and the people beyond welcoming. I loved it and it remains one of my favorite sailing trips. I digress, back to Falanghina. Falanghina is said to have come to Italy in 700 B.C. through the port of Cuma from Greece.

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We tried a number of wines from 2016 and some from 2015.  2015 was a very hot vintage but was saved by a cool spring and cooler fall after a broiling summer. 2016 was less intense and was a cooler year.

Agnanum Campi Flegrei Falanghina 2016::

The wine was lemon yellow in color. It was full bodied with good structure. I found tropical fruits with waxy notes. It had length and persistence with a classic almond finish.

With a history expanding over four generations, the Varchetta family founded the Astroni Winery in 1999, the winery is located on the outer slopes of the Astroni crater between Naples and Pozzuoli. They have 25 hectares, 13 that they own and 12 that they manage. Once the private hunting grounds for the Bourbons, today it is a nature reserve managed by the Italian World Wildlife Foundation. Vincenzo Varchetta is the winemaker together with Gerardo Vernazzaro.

Their vineyards are 200-400 meters above sea level and they have ungrafted vines in sandy and loam soils. Their wine grows through cryomaceration and the grapes ferment in stainless steel. They remain on the lees for four months.

Agnanum Campi Flegrei Falanghina 2016:

Golden yellow in color, this wine had apple and vegetal notes in abundance. This winery has 10.5 hectares of vines and is owned by Raffaele Moccia.

Started in 1990, he began his wine adventure with his father Gennaro, in 1960 in the nature reserve known as the Astroni Park. His oenologist is Gianluca Tommaselli. This video taken in his vineyard shows how the vines are attached to the famous falanghe (poles) and are planted in sandy soils. Although it’s in Italian, even for those who can’t speak it, the photos photos of the vines are worth seeing. Heroic viticulture as we see in other mountain areas, such as Valtellina and Liguria, to mention two, takes place here as well. Harvests are necessarily done by hand.

Cantine Carputo Campi Flegrei Falanghina Collina Viticella 2016:

Lemon yellow in color, it was a structured and full-bodied wine. Mature white fruits, baked apple and pear. Nice texture, white pepper notes with a longish length.

This winery, founded in 1995, is located on the hill of Quarto in the Campi Flegrei area. They have 9 hectares of vines. This particular wine comes from a single vineyard and they consider it a “cru” – the Collina Viticella at 150 meters above sea level. It sits on an extinct volcano and gets the afternoon breezes from the Gulf of Pozzuoli which mitigate the Mediterranean sun. Their oenologist is Antonio Pesce.

Contrada Salandra Campi Flegrei Falanghina 2015:

Lemon yellow in color, this wine was textured and had a very long length. Waxy, asparagus notes with eucalyptus, it had nice acidity. Again it has an almond finish.

Contrada Salandra is a winery owned by Giuseppe Fortunato and his wife Alessandra. They specialize in Falanghina and Piedirosso. Their vineyards are located at between 90 and 110 meters above sea level. They are rich in sand, limestone and clay. Giuseppe and his wife run the winery and also are beekeepers and produce honey. Their vines are ungrafted and grow in the sand, clay and loam soils above a base of igneous rock. Their Falanghina spends time in stainless steel

La Sibillia Campi Flegrei Falanghina Cruna del Lago 2015:

Lemon yellow in color, this wine was evolving and complex. It had waxy, green notes, pepper and garrigue. A long length and persistence mke this a great wine.

The Cruna del Lago is a Cru wine produced by this winery, owned by Luigi di Meo and his family. The fifth generation is now running the winery. The wines ferment in temperature-controlled stainless steel. I found an amazing blog, new to me, from an ex-pat who lives in Naples and who visited Di Meo at La Sibillia.

Astroni Campi Flegrei Falanghina Vigna Astroni 2015

This wine is a cru from a vineyard on the outer slope of the Astroni Crater of just 1.5 hectares. The soil here is sandy with volcanic origins. The wine spends at least 6 months on its lees.

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