Falanghina & Auchentoshan for a Shacklewell Night

Sep 05, 11 Falanghina & Auchentoshan for a Shacklewell Night

Posted by in Food and Wine, Italy, Spirits

Walking up Kingsland Road and then merging onto Stoke Newington Street, I was wondering if I would ever find the venue for Shacklewell Nights’ latest dinner. Past rows of closed shops with the metal shutters locked tightly, Turkish grocers and off-licences, I spied a hipster with a clipboard in the battered open doorway of what seemed to be a long closed establishment. This had to be it. And it was. After making my way past the entry room, it opened up into a (covered) still surviving Victorian street, (awesome!) complete with dwellings on both sides of the street, one serving as an open kitchen. Aperitifs and dinner was served in Ruby House, which was across the street from the kitchen, and is set over 5 floors of a Victorian townhouse, with plenty of retro furnishings and faded grandeur.  The entire venue is known as MC Motors and is very shabby chic. Auchentoshan was one of the sponsors and we got plenty of single malt whiskey cocktails before setting down to dinner. Shacklewell were serving roast chicken and I was asked by the organizers to recommend a red and white wine with dinner. I chose the 2010 Terradora Falanghina to go with the chicken. Falanghina is one of the easier to pronounce Italian varietals, coming from the slopes of Vesuvius, it is one of favourite white wines. Falanghina is a wine made for food, full of minerality but having good structure and plenty of apple, quince and citrus notes. It is rather round on the palate but not oily more like a substantial, elegantly textured white wine and miles better then any pinot grigio. A good match with the roast chicken, I enjoyed it with the starter of langoustine as well, the wine’s citrusy character coming to the forefront. In the middle of dinner, we were escorted, table by table, to a circa 1930’s decorated basement bar to sample Auchentoshan whiskey and learn a bit about the history of the whiskey. Luckily, we weren’t left...

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Falanghina from Cantine degli Astroni at the 2010 LIWF

I do enjoy those more obscure Italian varietals. Italy has something like over a thousand native grape varieties and over a million vineyards under cultivation! Which means you are spoilt for choice. No need to stick to the usual suspects such as pinot grigio and sangiovese (Chianti). Falanghina might be more or less an unknown quantity here in the UK but it is widely grown and consumed in Italy. While I was at the London International Wine Fair recently, I tried the falanghina of Cantine degli Astroni, a vineyard based in the Phlegraean Fields near Naples.  The  vineyard for the Strione falanghina is situated on the slopes of the Astroni crater and the it’s volcanic influences can be found on the nose and palate. What was interesting about this wine was that it had been macerated on the skins, something that is not commonly done with white wine grapes. Macerating it on the skins gives the wine a whole new complexity and character, richer, fuller and definitely much more structure. Cantine degli Astroni also produce other excellent white wines including greco di tufo and fiano de avellino but I wanted to focus on the falanghina as I thought it was the most interesting. I had a brief chat with their rep, Gerrardo (his friends call him Gerry)Vernazzaro. Click on the vid to find out more about the Strione falanghina.  The Strione is available from Naked Wines. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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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...

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