Two distinct Italian white wine grape varieties are commonly referred to as Falanghina, or Falanghina Greco—Falanghina Flegrea and Falanghina Beneventana. The two are often blended together, as well as with other indigenous Italian grape varieties, and the Italian vine census does not distinguish one subvariety of Falanghina from the other. Both grapes are primarily cultivated in the Campania region of southern Italy, though there is some production in neighboring regions such as Puglia and Abruzzo.
Falanghina is pronounced with a hard “g”, sounded out as “fah-lahn-geeh-nah.”
The reputation of Falanghina wines has improved significantly since the mid-1990s, thanks in part to modern fermentation techniques. In particular, the use of stainless steel vessels in the winery that enabled producers to preserve the fragrant aromatics of the wine. Some producersalso undertook a concerted effort to revive the grape as a single varietal bottling.
Falanghina Flegrea is the better known of Falanghina’s subvarieties, and is a signature white grape of the Campania region. Its yellow-skinned, waxy berries thrive in this terroir, typified by a Mediterranean climate and volcanic soils.
Falanghina Flegrea is grown in Campi Flegrei and is perhaps at its best in the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) wines of Falerno del Massico and Falanghina del Sannio. Wines made from Falanghina Flegrea are light, generally unoaked and highly fragrant. Many show a distinctively leafy note on the nose, along with citrus fruit aromas. On the palate, common descriptors include apple, pear and stony minerality.
The Falanghina Flegrea variety is thought to have been used to produce Falernian, Italy’s best-known wine during the Roman period. Falernian wines were produced in dry and sweet styles and were high in alcohol. The old Falernian style remained popular until at least the 4th century AD. Whether Falanghina was the base for this prized old wine is not known for sure, though the two certainly share a link today. Ancient Falernian wine gave rise to today’s Falerno del Massico DOC, whose white wines may be some of the strongest expressions of the Falanghina Flegrea variety.
Falanghina Beneventana comes from the Benevento province and is a great value. Most of these wines are labelled as Falanghina Beneventano Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT). Note that the names of the grape variety and IGT are spelled differently, though both are derived from the Benevento province.
Falanghina Beneventana wines express concentrated citrus fruit character on the nose, with notes of bitter orange, orange peel, tangerine and candied fruits. On the palate, Falanghina Beneventana is dry, with high acidity and flavors that include floral, herbal and tropical fruit notes.
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