Fall-anghina and Italian whites

Call up your wine maps of Italy this month (or unfold your paper maps if that’s your style) as we take a look at pardon-the-pun Fall-anghina and the white wines of Italy in our Wine Focus this month.

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As always in this monthly virtual conversation, we invite wine lovers everywhere to log in and share our tasting notes, travel experiences, and any questions we may have about the topic of the month. For October, that’s any of the vast array of white grapes that grow the length of Italy, and for that matter, white wines from around the world made with these Italian varieties wherever they may grow.

Italy’s white grapes are just about as numerous and diverse as its reds. Pinot Grigio is very popular if not always highly regarded; Soave and Trebbiano have also filled a lot of wine shop shelf space, although their tide may have ebbed a bit.

Falanghina del Sannio vineyard scene from Gambero Rosso.

Falanghina del Sannio vineyard scene from Gambero Rosso.

But the lesser-known grapes are worth a look, and quite a few of them in careful hands can make memorable wines. I’m particularly fond of some of the rich and aromatic Southern Italian whites – Falanghina, of course, and its neighbors Fiano and Greco de Tufo. Looking up and down the wine-rich country we find Grechetto, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia, Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Arneis, and sweet Picolit, Verduzzo, and Moscato, and we’ve still barely cracked the topic.

Falanghina, the month’s punning topic, is a longtime favorite. A historic grape from Campania, the region that includes Naples, it joins its neighbors (and perhaps cousins) Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo in my short list of Southern Italian whites of real personality and interest.

Today’s featured wine, a 2018 Falanghina del Sannio from Cantina del Taburno bears the name of a narrower sub-region, Falanghina del Sannio. This name may be unfamiliar even to many Italian-wine fanatics, but it deserves more fame: Sannio is a hilly region of Campania, northeast of Naples, with a wine-growing history so ancient that it was favorably mentioned – as Samnium in Latin – in the works of Pliny, Cato and Horace. Some authorities, including Jancis Robinson, believe the Falanghina of Samnium may have been the grape used in Falernum, one of the most highly regarded wines of the Roman Empire. Sannio wines may be labeled with both the name of the region and the grape variety: Aglianico, Coda di Volpe, Fiano, Greco, Moscato, Piedirosso, Sciascinoso and, of course, Falanghina.

Falanghina and its neighbors also offer exceptional quality-price ratio: At $17, it’s on the pricey end of the range. Wine-Searcher.com’s list of Falanghina wines and their vendors and prices shows few wines in the category for more than $20, and many in the lower teens.

Give Falanghina and other Italian whites a try this month, and come and talk with us about them on the WineLovers forum!


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Today’s Tasting Report

Cantina del Taburno 2018 Falanghina del Sannio ($16.99)

Falanghina del Sannio

Falanghina del Sannio

This 100% Falanghina comes from the Benevenuto area in the Falanghina del Sannio wine region on the slopes of Mount Taburno northeast of Naples in Southern Italy. It offers a good represenation of the Falanghina grape with its clear golden color and pleasant, forward aromas of ripe pears with a back note of pineapple. Its mouth-filling flavor follows the nose with luscious ripe fruit framed by firm acidity that gives it the tools to serve well at the table. Its 13% alcohol helps provide structure without being overbearing, and tart pear and pineapple persists in a very long finish. U.S. importer: Vanguard Wines, Columbus, Ohio, and other regional importers. (Oct. 1, 2020)

FOOD MATCH: Falanghina is a good match with fish, particularly richer or fatty fishes, and the Italian wine magazine Gambero Rosso strongly recommends it with Naples’ beloved pizza. It also served us well with a spicy Prebranac, a Serbian dish of gigante beans baked in a spicy paprika-based sauce, and we’re planning to try the remainder with a Piemontese favorite, spaghetti with butter and fresh sage.

WHEN TO DRINK: It’s absolutely delicious now, but its full fruit and richness, plus the protective metal screw cap, suggest it should keep, and might evolve into more complexity, over five years or so.

My 16.99 local retail price is right on Wine-Searcher.com’s $17 average U.S. retail. It’s a very good white wine and a good value in that range.

Here’s a fact sheet from producer Cantina del Taburno.

Check prices and find vendors for Cantina del Taburno Falanghina del Sannio on Wine-Searcher.com.

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to learn more about Falanghina del Sannio and browse listings for dozens of other wines from the region with prices and vendors.

This Wine-Searcher link provides more information and listings about Falanghina in general.

Join this month’s Wine Focus conversation, Fall-anghina and Italian whites, in our WineLovers Discussion Group.


More affordable wines

Want tips to still more good, inexpensive wines? Here are Wine-Searcher links to vendors and prices for a bunch more wines for $10 or less that I’ve told you about during the past year or two. Please tell us about your favorites!

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