Falanghina del Sannio DOC, Campania
For a grape variety with such noble roots and such long history in one of Europe’s cradles of winemaking culture, Falanghina is a surprisingly little known grape. Add to this the fact that Falanghina wine is perfectly adapted to current wine taste preferences for bright, fresh and and aromatically complex white wines and you get the feeling this is a wine that is bound to break out into the consciousness of winedrinkers everywhere. Well, Falanghina is about to have its moment in the spotlight. The European Network of Wine Cities (RECEVIN) has named Sannio Falanghina in Benevento, Campania as European Wine City of the Year for 2019. It is a fitting choice in many ways. Firstly, Falanghina as a wine grape deserves to be praised for both its historical importance (including as the white Falernum wine which was of such high prestige during the time of the Roman Empire) and for its modern importance (the Benevento region produces over 1/2 of Campania’s wines and Falanghina is by far the most important white). Secondly, although there is growing awareness of the exceptional white wines of Campania, Fiano di Avelino and Greco di Tufo tend to get the most attention. Falanghina deserves to get some time on the marquee.
One of the interesting features of Falanghina del Sannio is that a very high proportion of wines are produced by cooperatives. The cooperative culture among the more than 2,000 grape producer members remains strong and is part of the very deep winemaking and agricultural fabric of this area. There are some individual winery producers such as Fontanavecchia but the 4 cooperatives (La Guardiense, Solopaca, Taburno and Vigne Sannite) are at the heart of the Falanghina del Sannio wine business.
Why Falanghina del Sannio For Wine?
Falanghina del Sannio is a very large DOC area that takes up all of the province of Benevento (including overlapping with the important DOCG island of Aglianico del Taburno that sits in the middle of Benevento). The wines have an immediately friendly character because of the sprightly acidity that makes them natural wine partners to foods like fish, salad and light summer meals. However, they are more serious than meets the eye and are known to have sufficient substance for long aging. You will notice the depth and richness of the wine, lying just behind that bright and immediately appealing front palate. Falanghina del Sannio DOC also provides for the making of several sparkling wines including an excellent “metodo classico” bubble. In addition there are Passito sweet wines made from Falanghina that are allowed to dry on the vine as well as on straw mats.
Where Is Falanghina del Sannio?
Covering essentially all of the Campania province of Benevento, Falanghina del Sannio borders Puglia on the east and Molise on the north. The regional capital city of Benevento is only about 1.5 hours drive from Naples. The area is surrounded by high mountains, including the distinctive Monte Taburno massif, and the vineyards themselves sit at elevations which range from 350 - 500 meters. The diurnal changes between day and night temperature help to preserve the characteristic tautness and freshness in the wines.
Who Are The Winemakers?
Wine production remains largely in the domain of the four large cooperatives but there are several excellent independent wineries, the most well-known of which are Fontanavechia and Vigne Vecchi. The cooperatives produce phenomenally good wines as well, particularly La Guardiense.
The 4 cooperatives are:
When Is The Best Time To Visit?
Campania is a wonderful place to visit at any time of years. Spring and autumn may be the best times but with Naples nearby and some of the best wine country in the world scattered all around, this is a place you will enjoy no matter what time of year you visit.
Map and photo credits: www.agricoltura.regione.campania.it; La Guardiense; Vigne Vecchi; Pixabay