Ciro Picariello ‘BruEmm’ Falanghina, Beneventana Avellino, Campania, Italy 2018
GRAPE: 100% FALANGHINA [FA-lan-GHEE-nah]
Falanghina may now be the most recognized white wine from Campania, even though perhaps it’s still not considered the best. It’s recognition likely comes from the combination of approachability in both price point and in over-all deliciousness. And maybe because it’s just fun to say. It’s an ancient grape (maybe one of the very oldest?) that we only very recently discovered is actually two different grapes in fact (maybe 3, perhaps 4?!) The Falanghina from the coast (from the Flegrea volcanic peninsula) is an early ripener and tends to have a more fruity driven profile, where Falanghina Beneventana shows more floral and mineral complexity. Perhaps when this is all sorted out there will be a rise in the status of great Falanghina, and it is surely wines like this one that will help make that happen.
GROWER: Ciro is a shooting star within the ranks of Campania white wines, an amazingly talented bunch in their own right. His mastery of the classic whites of Campania is now a well known commodity amongst those who are paying attention, but it was only two years ago that Falanghina was included in his repertoire. These grapes come from a small high altitude property just outside Benevento, an hour north of Ciro’s Avellino estate. His winemaking process is unorthodox, as he allows his whites to rest and develop in stainless steel tanks for far longer than most would ever dare. As with his other wines, this is to showcase the more nervy and mineral side of the grape variety. He believes that this approach will lend to his Falaghina being equally as ageworthy as his Fiano and Greco. I can’t wait to experience that. But who am I kidding, mine is already empty. How’s yours?
GLASS: What is this magic? Isn’t Falanghina supposed to be the light hearted, fun and frivolous one of the bunch? This reminds me a bit of a more serious Gruner Veltliner; a little white pepper, a little celery salt, a ton of minerality. The mineral quality is the most pronounced- think cold spray from a waterfall or river stones from fresh stream. What it is NOT is what you may expect from a Campanian white, which is more along the lines of a flinty and smoky volcanic minerality. This crisp wine is sharp with white grapefruit acidity, herbal with cut wheat grass and simply focused from start to finish. Goes to show that Falanghina can truly show incredible structure when in the right hands. Bravo Ciro! Keep ‘Emm coming!
SIDE NOTES: Falanghina, from Latin ‘falangae’ based on the resemblance of the poles used to support the vine rows and resemble formations of Roman military legions. Those same legion movements are a useful tool in tracking how different grapes moved around Italy!
ORIGINS : CAMPANIA
The eyes of the wine world have always been drawn to the South of Italy – but this beautiful region is truly the source of the draw. East of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius there are three DOCG level wine appellations: Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo and Taurasi. It is their proximity to the iconic volcanic landmark that is the key to their success, by way of their unique soils. In fact, soil is the common factor for the recent rise and success of other southern Italian wines as well (see: Etna). In turn, this factor has also been a catalyst for attention given to so many small and regionally unique Italian grape varieties throughout all of Italy. It defines how we view this wealth of diversity today. You know the old adage: “a rising lava lifts all varietals…” or something like that.
If there were ever a place that I would call ground zero for my Italian Wine education and love, it is Campania. I owe this portion of my wine education to my dear friend and colleague, Shelley Lindgren who has been instrumental in championing these wines to the US market. And what a wonderful and gracious champion she is.