Tasting Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina 2005

FdSG hires labelI heart obscure white varietal wines!

Light gold in color, suggesting oak aging. Fascinating nose: flowery, strong ripe banana and almond scent, with some cheery orange peel as it warmed up. The taste was almost exactly like lemon juice from concentrate: sharp and acidic, to the point of bitterness. A strong nutty flavor. Light- to medium-bodied, belying the oak aging I thought it might have by looking at the color. (Later I checked; no oak on this wine — what a great natural color, then!)

Almost Alsatian in style: a very opulent, perfumed nose contrasting with a palate nearly off-putting in its austerity. Really wish I had tried this with some food — it would so kick ass with fish. Super-interesting, though; I had been expecting appley character, as that is typical for this varietal, but really didn’t taste or smell it, frankly. Average bottle price: $20

A retrospective: Upon really thinking about my experience with this wine, I think it was oxidized. The golden color and the intense nuttiness on the palate to the exclusion of any fruit but lemon is what’s haunting me, here. I will either buy a bottle of Falanghina to compare, or get another glass at the wine bar and will report back!

Feudi di San Gregorio is a great winery in southern Italy, located in Campania. If Italy is a boot, Campania is at the front part of the ankle, right above where the foot bends. So, hot and dry climate, very rustic, and generally pretty inexpensive wines. Feudi di San Gregorio is actually on the molto-pricey side for Campania, but they bottle cool shit like Falanghina (“FA-lan-GHEE-nah,” with a hard “g”), for crissakes, so who can resist? Their whites have always knocked my socks off; others that I get all squeaky about include their Greco di Tufo, Aglianico and Fiano di Avellina. They have had a lot of help from the Modern Italian Bacchus, consulting winemaker Ricardo Cotarella, may his name be blessed by millions daily. (Repeat after me: “Cotarella touched it? Let’s buy it!”)

Falanghina the grapeFalanghina is a really old grape varietal, dating back to ancient Rome, it’s thought. Some of the most renowned wine in the times of the Roman Empire was Falerno, and this is thought to be the grape varietal that made that wine, called Falernina then. Italians happily drank this wine for about 1920 years, until phylloxera devastated Campania and the wine industry there all but ended. Feudi di San Gregorio was one of the first wineries to start back up there in 1986. Their whole gig is to bring back the great, native Italian grape varietals that no one in modern times has ever heard of, and make great wine from them. In a world dominated by 6 major grape varietals, I applaud owner/winemaker Enzo Ercolino’s efforts. He’s been quoted as saying, “We’ve found our Chardonnay, and it’s Falanghina.”

Other notable producers of 100% Falanghina in Campania include Ocone, Terredora, Mustilli, and Gran Furor/Marisa Cuomo. Try some with your trout almondine or blackened catfish today!

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