Week 33 – Falanghina

We tasted: Falanghina, £11.99, Majestic Wines

Tasting Notes

Emma says: “An Italian grape this week and one with a name that I think does it a disservice. Pronounced Fal-an-gheena, it really doesn’t have the prettiest of names. It has an aggressive tone which is a sensory turn off for me. Asking for a glass of Gavi or Fiano (other Italian whites) in a wine bar sounds so much more elegant.

I was desperate to find a recent vintage of this grape. So many traditional Italian importers think Falanghina is a grape that tastes just as good in two or three years, but I think it tastes best when fresh from the harvest. It comes from the Southern region of Campania and it doesn’t have naturally high acidity, age can turn it flat and dull.

We found a 2017 vintage and I hope anyone else who is joining us got that too. Andy has for the first time tasted before me, so watch out for his review below, it may be the most honest so far…

Onto my tasting of this wine. I’ll start with the fragrance, whilst this isn’t a naturally aromatic grape I was pleased to find ours had a vibrant expression, a pear compote note with hints of cinnamon spice, almost sweet and tropical but gentle. To taste it has a weight that isn’t typical in Italian whites but makes it nice and smooth. The flavours aren’t pronounced but they are unique in a combination of pear, quince and gentle peppery notes. There is a mineral smoky dimension that also gives it finesse. It has one of those flavour profiles that is difficult to express since it isn’t necessarily fruity there is almost a savoury tang to it. I think that is why this grape is special it is distinct and difficult to compare to other grapes you may have tasted before. And for that reason I would say it is well worth seeking out.

As for food matches, the delicate flavours of this wine mean it shouldn’t go with food that is too powerful. But given its mineral and savoury dimensions it can match up well to food as a complimentary flavour. I think it would be a beautiful match for a plain grilled fish but potentially one for a pasta dish heavy in parmesan or creamy sauce.

PS – I told the guy who served me at Majestic we would be reviewing his wine on this blog and he seemed ever so disinterested – so I’m leaving this calling card to see if we can get him to respond!

Andy Says: “I’m taking a massive risk here, as I’m tasting and writing before Emma for the very first time. I’m about to show myself up.

The first thing to note is that the bottle was incredibly difficult to open. The rim was rounded and didn’t let the corkscrew latch on, so much swearing was done. It took a good few minutes to open, the cork was incredibly stiff.

Battle over and cork discarded, I poured. First thing I noticed was the incredibly pale colour. I decided it was ‘pale straw’, and then looked at the handy Wine Folly colour chart. I’d only gone and nailed it. Woop. High fives all round, except I was home alone, so let out a little sigh instead.

On the nose, I get a slight hint of toasty biscuit, maybe even a hint of butter, like shortbread.
Taste wise, it doesn’t have the ‘winey’ taste that I still haven’t identified. It’s fruity, a touch floral (not overly so in anyway) and not that sweet. I thought there was quite a bit of acid going on, I felt my mouth pucker and water on the first sip/mouthful, but it lessened after that, so maybe it was just my palate adjusting to the several beers I’d had before the wine. The bottle says tropical fruits and aromatic herbals. I’ll give them the first, but herbals is something I’m still struggling to taste.”

Buying Guide

Falanghina is a white grape coming from Campania in the South of Italy. It isn’t really produced anywhere else. So just head to the Italian white section of your local store and see if you can find it.

4 thoughts to “Week 33 – Falanghina”

  1. This wine took quite a bit of tracking down, but I eventually found a bottle at Laithwaites. It was Feudi del Vulcano, Falanghina 2015 (£13.99).

    It was pale yellow with a pleasant nose. There was a sharp lemon and apple base over which was a big mineral dimension – quite unusual and very difficult to describe. It definitely had a distinct stoney thing (I’m going with limestone) as well as some sort of “fustiness” (a yeasty, wet straw smell). Over time a hint of white flowers opened up too.

    When I first sipped it fresh from the newly opened bottle is was exceedingly, eye-wateringly dry which surprised me given the grape isn’t meant to have naturally high acidity. It was almost verging on sour. I initially wrote it off and left it for a good while before coming back for more. It did settle down a bit, and was actually much better the next day which surprised me for a white (even a 13.5% one). It was still certainly very fresh but other intriguing flavours came through. Lemon, pear and a strong dose of the interesting savoury, stoney minerality. Allowing myself to be a bit outlandish, the taste sort of conjured up the stone blocks of the ruined temples you find in that part of Italy!

    I don’t think I tasted the best example, but overall I thought it was interesting and I liked the nose, but was put of by the strength of acidity which was just too much at first. I’d like to try it again (perhaps a younger example) as I really liked the stoney flavour dimension.

  2. Wine -Falanghina Terredora Dipaolo, 2017 (Majestic £12)
    Bottle says – Citrus, tropical fruits, herbs

    This was the only Falanghina to be found in Sheffield; interesting to find it’s the same one you guys have gone for!

    It sounds like you need a better corkscrew though! The one I have is a middling quality, two-arms pull down style, the one all the wine books tell you to avoid as it doesn’t have a hollow helix, but in over 20 years I’ve never had a single problem with any bottle of wine. It sounds like you’re using a ‘waiters friend’ style corkscrew, the one all the wine books recommend, but they’ve always been troublesome for me. (Waiter’s friends, not wine books; although Malcolm Gluck can be hard work!)

    Onto the wine. Pale straw in colour, there is an initial hit of vaguely tropical-fruity glycerine, and not much else. I didn’t get the pear or the cinnamon, but there was a faint smokiness to it, like a Pouilly-Fumé (I think) but more subtle. The flavour that came through first for me was the general citrus note, and a steely mineral smokiness. The white pepper was also quite pronounced, and as Andy noted, there was also a hint of butteriness. It also has to be noted that this wine was far less acidic than most Italian Whites. All in all, this wine was a little too subtle and generic for me, there was nothing that made it stand out particularly.

    While I’m more than happy to add another string to my bow regarding my knowledge of Italian whites; maybe its my uncultured Northern Monkey palate, but speaking generally, they do all seem ‘much of a muchness’ to me, and don’t seem to have the depth or breadth of French whites.

    I will however keep trying them, and maybe one day I’ll ‘get’ them.

    1. Hi Jason – this is my favourite comment so far! Mostly because you agreed with me about the butteriness. Emma missed it entirely, I think she’s holding me back 😉

      Yep, it was a waiter’s friend. It genuinely took me about 5 minutes (and one minor injury) to get the cork out.

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