Italian wine: One of Campania's Greatest White Grapes with Aia dei Colombi Falanghina del Sannio
- WTI Magazine #162 Apr 15, 2023
This month we venture to the region of Campania highlighting the native white grape, Falanghina. Campania is a region in southern Italy located on the western coast along the Tyrrhenian Sea. With Naples as the capital of Campania that most are familiar with, maybe you’ve also been fortunate to travel there to explore the Amalfi Coast and the ancient ruins of Pompeii. A region with amazing history and amazing wines.
The winery – Aia dei Colombi
The Aia dei Colombi winery I’m featuring today is not one very large in size, occupying about 25 acres in the hills east of Naples in the towns of Castelvenere and Guardia Sanframondi. The winery was established in only 2002 founded by Maria and Marcello Pascale. Originally much of the fruit had been sold off to other producers, but since their sons, Gaetano and Marcello, have become involved in the business they now produce their own wines from 3 primary varietals including Falanghina, Fiano and Aglianico.
The grape – Falanghina
Falanghina is a grape that is believed to have arrived in southern Italy by the Greeks in the 7th century BC. Campania claims 95% of Italy’s Falanghina plantings and the Sannio DOC that I’m sharing today is where 80-90% of Falanghina is grown.
A key figure and local producer, Leonardo Mustilli, was instrumental in the Falanghina grape thriving. He had found an ancient vine of Falanghina and began to work with the grape to be the first to release it as a single varietal in 1979 showing the qualities that this grape possesses to stand on its own.
There are two different varieties of this grape, Falanghina Flegrea and Falanghina Beneventana. Falanghina Flegrea is typically lighter and brighter with showing notes of citrus, stone fruits, pears and apples. Falanghina Beneventana, on the other hand, is more concentrated showing more tropical and floral notes with some herbal nuances.
Falanghina is a grape that has a yellowish skin that loves the warm, dry Mediterranean climate, especially the volcanic soils of this region as well. Most of the wines made from Falanghina are made in stainless steel, but you may see the use of oak with some producers. The flavor profile will vary depending on the use of Falanghina Flegrea or Falanghina Beneventana grapes along with the specific terroirs of where the grapes are grown.
The 2020 Aia dei Colombi Falanghina del Sannio DOC Guardia Sanframondi I purchased was brightly straw colored with pretty aromas of citrus mostly and green apple. The wine had a tingly acidity that lasted throughout to waken up that palate showing lemon, tart apple and some minerality. A decent finish with some length. Retailing about $15-17 a bottle it was worth the purchase. Although it’s always important to know the top producers making high quality wines to get a good sense of the typicity of these grapes, I always enjoy those I haven’t heard of that may be smaller as those can sometimes be the ones that surprise you. ABV 14%