I spoke about Falanghina, a white grape from Campania this morning on my Instagram live series called Your Morning Grape. Campania is home to incredible and diverse grape varieties. Some of the most famous ones are Fiano and Greco, among the whites and Aglianico for the reds. That said, Falanghina the third very famous white, I think often doesn’t get the attention it should and therefore this post is about Falanghina.
Falanghina is said to have come to Italy in 700 B.C. through the port of Cuma from Greece. It was first mentioned in literature in 1825. In the past, this vine was attached to spikes which were also called Falanghe and apparently that’s how the grape got its name.
It is used in many denominazione d’origine controllata (D.O.C.) wines in the region including, among others, the Campi Flegre D.O.C., Guardiolo D.O.C., Penisola Sorrentina D.O.C., Sant’Agata di Goti D.O.C. (in the news after De Blasio’s visit some years ago), Solopaca D.O.C., Taburno D.O.C., and Falerno di Massico D.O.C.
Falanghina is a lively white grape variety that has great body, beautiful color and a floral and fruity bouquet on the nose and palate. I’ve always found it to have some sapidity as well which I enjoy. There are numerous delicious examples of Falanghina available in the USA including that of Feudi Di San Gregorio, Cantina del Taburno, Mustilli, and Villa Matilde, Donnachiara, Terre Stregate, among others.
Falanghina was said to be part of the blend of Falernian, a wine renowned in ancient Rome that I wrote about on this blog. Whatever the definitive history is of the grape, one thing is certain, it makes wonderful wines and many producers are working every year to improve on their grapes.
Falanghina, however, is rarely spoken about as a wine that can age. Speaking with Ilaria Petitto from Donnachiara about her wine, Resilienza which is 100% Falanghina, we discussed how she wanted to show that Falanghina could be an important variety. I drank her 2016 recently over a few days. As it stayed in the glass, it got richer and more profound each day. Amazing tropical fruit aromas and a waxy texture emerged on day 2 by day 3, the wine which had taken on some oxidative notes because I had it open for so many days was exquisite and paired perfectly with salmon that I was eating as well. It was a revelation to me that this Falanghina could become so rich and textured. I loved it.
There are two Falanghina varieties – Falanghina Flegrei and Falanghina Beneventano. Falanghina likes volcanic soils and enjoys the warm Mediterranean air and breeze that one finds in Campania. The Sannio is quite hilly and the wines can have nice acidity thanks to elevation.
It’s important to recognize the contribution of the Mustilli family to the growth of Falanghina. In 1979, Leonardo Mustilli bottled the first single-variety Falanghina in Campania. Since that time the variety has exploded in the Sannio going from 75 hectares of vines to thousands of hectares today.
I’ve had many Falanghina wines in my lifetime and I plan on having many more. This is a grape variety that can be a way into Italian whites for novice wine drinkers but also a unique treat for more experienced tasters.
Charity of the Day:
Today’s charity mention is about the Fresh Air Fund, an organization that brings city kids to camp in the summer who otherwise couldn’t afford it. I support this organization because camp was a fundamental part of my experience, and a fundamental part of my Mom’s life and even my grandfather’s. He was a poor city kid who got to go to a summer camp thanks to the Henry Street Settlement and for many years ran a camp for underprivileged children called Camp Williams. Camp is an amazing experience and this great organization allows so many to enjoy it.