Wine of the month: Fiano Falanghina GrecoPosted on: 04 October 2011 by 50connect editorial
Falanghina, the delicious character-filled taste of southern Italy.
One of my favourite wine regions is the Campania region in southern Italy. I love the authenticity. It’s all about indigenous varieties, there is hardly a grape name you would recognise, yet flavour-wise it is quite easy to get.
The southern Italians build up a wonderful ripeness of fruit due to the gorgeous climate. It is also a beautiful part of the country, centered around Naples with its stunning bay offering views towards Capri. I vividly remember my first visit there. Naples’ old town offers an amazing array of restaurants from the basic to the sublime. But all of them offer a selection of thoroughly local wines.
Whites are made from grape varieties such as Falanghina, Fiano and Greco. The staple is the local Gragnano, a sparkling, light red wine that is served by the jug-full, chilled and very refreshing. Not a wine that travels particularly well but one that totally fits the mood of the city. Aglianico is a red grape variety that produces wines that are bit more serious, chunky, but with lovely black fruit. The same variety also produces some of the top wines of the area that could hold their own against their northern counterparts.
Yet for me it is the whites that give the most pleasure. Refreshing, invariably interesting, the three varieties bring very different elements to the table. Falanghina is normally encountered on its own rather than blended. It is an expressive grape variety that can produce a wine with tropical fruit and a slightly floral edge, but always balanced by a fresh and zesty acidity. My first ever bottle was consumed over lunch while overlooking the Bay of Naples towards Vesuvius. Lunch was risotto with ‘vongole’, the local clams. The creaminess of the risotto was a perfect match to the acidity of the wine and the fruit balanced the pepperiness of the rocket salad that was served with it. Food heaven.
When I spot a bottle of Falanghina in the UK I have to buy it, just to recapture that lunch. So when I saw Waitrose were stocking a blend that included not only the Falanghina, but also the Fiano and Greco, I had to go and get me a bottle. The grapes are all grown in the province of Avellino, slightly inland from Naples, on volcanic soils and they complement each other very well. The name of the wine, ‘Triade’, could be translated as trinity and reflects not only the use of the three varieties but also the three people who came up with the concept. They each have their specialism in the wine trade and together form a perfect match to come up with something different. It is worth a punt and great value just now.
Fiano - Falanghina - Greco
£6.90 (with 25% off until the end of October) Waitrose stores and on line
Volcanic soils of Campania play host to three indigenous varieties rarely found outside of southern Italy. It is very unusual to see them all blended together, particularly the Falanghina. Peaches, nectarines and even pineapple make an appearance in this wine. It also has a slight creaminess in texture and a drop of vanilla, owing to the subtle use of oak. It isn’t an obviously oaky wine though. Only 20% of each of the three varieties is fermented and matured in oak for a very short period of time. But that is just enough to give it a bit of extra richness on the palate without losing the juiciness of the fruit.
This is clever stuff, delicious and with lots of character. A bit like the southern Italians themselves.
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