Posted by: tomciocco | March 2, 2013

FAWNING OVER FLORA – AN ORGANIC FALANGHINA

Making wines organically doesn’t guarantee superior results in the bottle, but it’s unquestionably and dramatically healthier for the farmer and the farm alike, and if this farmer and/or winemaker also happens to be a good one, well, at least in this case, at least for Falanghina, it’s a shining success indeed. Falanghina, (fa-lahng-GHEE-na) along with Greco and Fiano, form Campania’s terrific trio of white grape varieties. With over 2,500 years of viticultural history held within its vine friendly (largely) volcanic soil (more on this momentarily), there are literally scores of great wine grape varieties, both red and white skinned, grown all around the region, and due to Campania’s widely varying climate and terrain, there are many as yet mostly undesignated crus. Here’s one however that is…

The Falanghina vine is grown all over Campania and Molise, but this particular Falanghina hails from the mountainous interior Campanian province of Benevento. The Falanghina del Sannio D.O.C. (this wine is one of them) is contained entirely within the province of Benevento and within four designated areas in the province, there are denominated sub-zones, one of which is Taburno, and it’s the source of this evening’s wine.

As previously mentioned, because of the quite active Vesuvius, as well as a few other now extinct volcanoes around Campania, much of the region’s soil is composed of famously vitiphilic volcanic soils. That said, the Taburno region is not one of them, being dominated rather by a high, long, rippling ridge of a mountain of the same name that is basically a huge outcropping of friable limestone and tufa, which is another favorite soil mix for grape vines to bury their feet in, typically making for purer, more lifted wines as opposed to the deeper and more complex made on volcanic soils.

The particular vineyard that grew the fruit to make this wine (which is not called “Flora” as you might infer from the label – that’s just the producer’s name for this cuvee`) is situated at over 300 meters above sea level (1,ooo feet), so this fairly high situation, as well as being located quite far from the sea, makes this quite a cool parcel of land, but this features is balanced by its sun-soaked southwest exposure, which assures both lots intense aromas and crisp acidity as well as a ripe, full body…and the you gotta believe that treating the land with respect allows the Earth to return the favor in the form of a very clean, open, and energetic wine like this.

Dinner was a primo of orecchiette con i broccoli (with garlic, red pepper flakes, anchovies, and Pecorino) and then a pan of eggs poach-fried with potatoes, tomatoes, and leeks, with oregano and marjoram, and a nice loaf of chewy, rustic southern Italian-style round peasant bread (panella) to go along with it.

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Ocone Taburno Falanghina del Sannio 2011

Bright, medium yellow gold color. Very expressive and vivid aromas of cling peaches, green apple, orange, fresh white flowers, straw mushrooms, lemon curd, pine nuts and sea spray. The palate is big, powerful, viscous and intense, quite minerally, and almost aromatic, with a beautiful cohesion and lush flavors of just-sliced pineapple, green fig, poached pears, melon, dried ginger, sage, and honeycomb, all perfectly balanced by a clean and very fresh acidity. Very long, piney finish. A very classy, complete, and place-driven wine.

 

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