Falanghina (or anything but pinot grigio)
For those of you looking for an Italian white other then the ubiquitous pinot grigio, Falanghina is your grape. Falan-what? Unless you spend a lot of time in Rome or Naples, you probably aren’t familiar with this grape but you should be at least on nodding terms with the wines that come from it.
Falanghina is grown primarily in the northern regions of Campania and produces wines that are quite aromatic, rich and minerally. Campania encompasses Naples, the Amalfi Coast and that Mediterranean jewel, the isle of Capri, where I once had a lost weekend with some crazy Italian but that’s for another blog. Most of the vineyards are situated inland, on the hills of the Apennine Mountains, thus escaping the scorching summer heat while at the same time enjoying the ocean breezes. Perfect conditions for white wine production. Campania has been producing wines for over 2700 years when the Greeks first brought their vines over but it’s only been recently with the boom in Italian wine that this region has finally seen investment. In 1970, only 3 wineries were making wine commercially. At last count, that number had blossomed to over 120 wineries.
We got an allotment the other day of a Falanghina ’06 produced by Epicuro. The wine was quite pale, a watery lemon-green colour was the best we came up with to describe it. But what a nose! So aromatic and intense. Passionfruit, papaya, very ripe banana, slight vanilla tinge. This had tropical fruit written all over it. There was a slight wisp of alcohol on the nose but it was more like an afterthought. I only noticed it after some time.
On the palate, med-bodied, slightly waxy, and rich. Very fruity but dry, again with the ripe banana and tropical fruitiness but also some minerality around the edges, medium acidity and a clean finish. It was reminiscent of a New Zealand S. Blanc but it didn’t have that bracing acidity that is the hallmark of those wines and was richer and fuller. A food friendly wine that would go well with a light lunch and have some left over to drink in the afternoon (if you can resist). Something other than Pinot Grigio from Italy that is worth seeking out.