Body: Generally medium, but can be full.
Dry / Sweet: Dry
Acidity: Medium to high
Age: Best to drink within the first year or two of release. The highest quality wines have the potential to improve over several years.
Aka: Also known as Biancuzita, Falanghina Greco, Falerno Veronese and Uve Falerna.
Falanghina (fah-lahn-GEE-nah) is a very ancient grape variety indigenous to the Campania region in southwest Italy, of which Naples is the capital. It is believed to have been introduced by the Greeks who had a colony here as far back as the 8th century BC.
The name Falanghina is thought to originate from the Greek word “phalanga”, which became “falangae” in Latin, and means the wooden stakes used to support and train vines as they grow. It is possible that Falanghina may have been a component of the most famous wine of Roman times, called Falernian (or Falernum), which came from the north cost of Campania – an honor shared with another Crisp style local grape named Greco (di Tufo).
The climate, and especially the soils, of Campania create ideal growing conditions for Falanghina. It thrives in volcanic soils that are light, porous and have a high mineral content. Such soil types are common in Campania given its geological history and particularly around Mount Vesuvius.
Like many indigenous Italian grape varieties Falanghina was teetering on the verge of extinction by the 1970s. This situation reflected the general decline in Italian viticulture in the period after the end of the Second World War when industrialization replaced agriculture and people left the land for the cities. Thankfully, a number of visionary winemakers dedicated themselves to the revival of such indigenous grape varieties and ensured Falanghina’s survival.
Since then, wine production in Campania, and across southern Italy, has improved significantly. This has helped to highlight the fine qualities of Falanghina, which takes very well to fermentation in stainless steel and requires good temperature control during the process. Some producers ferment a small proportion of the finished wine in oak, but generally it is best without the use of oak.
As a varietal wine it is vivid and refreshing and has considerable character. Aromas of wild flowers, acacia blossom, honeysuckle, citrus and tropical fruits are followed by flavors of apple, pear, lemon, lime, pineapple, banana, kiwi and candied peel, along with mineral notes and subtle spicy overtones.
While varietal wines are growing in popularity, Falanghina is often blended with other local grape varieties and is also used to produce a sweet passito wine (made from dried grapes – for more information see the passito entry in the glossary).
Generally, it is best to drink Falanghina while it is young and fresh, although the highest quality wines have the potential to improve over several years. There has been a dramatic change in fortune for this ancient grape in recent decades, which has seen it emerge from obscurity and impending extinction to become very fashionable today.
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