Category Archives: Greco

Tasting the White Wines of Sannio

The Sannio Consorzio Tutela Vini and Brian Freedman invited me to attend a tasting and lunch to explore the wines of the Sannio region of Campania. The whites we tasted were Falanghina Coda di Volpe and Greco. The reds were Aglianico and Barbera (aka Camaiola).  In this post I will discuss the white wines.


The Sannio Wine Consortium was established in February 1999 and today has nearly 400 members: vine growers, winemakers and bottlers.

Dr. Libero Rillo, President of the Sannio Consorzio Tutela Vini and owner of fontanAvecchia winery, and Domizio Pigna representing the region of Sannio discussed the Sannio wine region.

IMG_8701The moderator was Brian Freedman, wine, travel, spirts and food writer and Author of CRUSHED: How a changing climate is altering the wine we drink. Brian spoke about the wines. He kept the session moving right along with his sense of humor and his ability to get the audience to participate and share their thoughts on the wines which made it more interesting. He made appropriate and knowledgeable comments.

Sannio is a hilly region 50 kilometers north of Naples in the provinces of Benevento,  the heart of the Campania region. It borders to the south with the area of Irpinia, to the north the region of Molise, to the east with the region of Puglia and to the west with the province of Caserta. Domizio said there are several sub-zones with the Sannio name on their wine labels: Sannio Guardia Sanframondi, Sannio Sant’Agata del Goti, Sannio Solopace and Sannio Taburno.

The White Wines of Sannio

IMG_8706Falanghina Del Sannio DOP “Euforia” Sparkling Extra Dry Cantina Iannella made from 100% Falanghia in the hills of Taburno. The vineyards are at 450 meters and the exposure is southwest and the soil is clay. There are 5,000 plants per hectare, the training system is guyot and the average age of the vines is 20 years. Harvest takes place the first ten days of September. The wine is made according to the Charmat method. This is a fruity fresh wine with hints if citrus fruit, a touch of lime and a note of almonds. Libero said there are over 100 wineries in Sannio and almost every one makes Falanghina. Over 90% of Falanghina is produced in Sannio and Falanghina has been grown in Sannio for more that 2,000 years.

Coda Di Volpe Taburno DOC  made from 100% Coda di Volpe Elena Catalano. Vineyards for the production of Coda di Volpe DOC are subject to green harvest when the ripeness ranges from 20% 30% depending on the vintage. The grapes are green harvested in the second part of September and are soft pressed with gas protection to avoid uncontrolled oxidation. Then  debourbage is done in stainless steel tanks. Alcoholic fermentation takes place at a low temperature and lasts about two to three weeks. Batonnage takes place in stainless steel throughout  the process so the lees do not settle to the bottom of the tank. The wine ages for three to four weeks in the bottle at the end of winter following the harvest. The wine has hints of peach and pear, citrus notes and medium to low acidity.

IMG_8708 2Coda Di Volpe Sannio DOP IL Poggio made from 100% Coda di Volpe. The vineyards are at 300 to 400 meters and there are 2,500 plants per hectare. Harvest tales place the second half of September. Fermentation and aging are in stainless steel. The wine is bottled 6 months after the harvest. The wine has hints of yellow flowers, pear and nice acidity.

Coda di Volpe (Fox Tail) may be the Alopecis that Pliny the Elder (d.79 AD) wrote about in his Natural History because the curve of the bunches resembles the tail of a fox. It is also the principal grape in Lacryma Christi Bianco del Vesuvio. It does very well in volcanic soil.

IMG_8705Falanghina Del Sannio DOP “Vigne Sannite” Cantina in Castelvenere made from 100% Falanghina from the mount Pugliano slopes ay 300 meters. The soil is medium textured clayey. calcareous not droughty. There is a soft pressing of the gapes. The grapes undergo a filmic cryomaceration in an anaerobic environment for 24 hours. Fermentation lasts for 20 days. The wine is aged in stainless steel and then in the bottle. It has hints of citrus fruit, lemon zest, pear and a note of almond.

IMG_8825Falanghina del Sannio DOP  made from 100% Falanghina fontanAvecchia.  The vineyard is at 350 meters and the soil is argillaceous with lime rich marlstone outcrops. The training system is guyot and harvest is the third week of September. Vinification with direct pressing of the grapes at a controlled temperature. Fermentation lasts for 7 days. The wine is aged in steel before it is bottled. It has hints of citrus fruit, lemon, lime, melon with a touch of green apple. I visited this winery a few years ago on a press trip with Campania Stories and I am a big fan of Falanghina. This was my favorite wine at the tasting.


 In his book, Brunello to Zibibbo (1999) Nicholas Belfrage states, “This grape (Falanghina), which some have suggested may be of Greek origin, and which some have tentatively identified as the grape from which Roman Falernian was made, has been known as Falanghina only since the 19th century.  (A falanga… is a type of wooden stake used for supporting a vine; the suffix –ina makes it a small wooden stake.) The grape Falanghina is a late-ripener, which requires well exposed, sunny slopes and not-too-excessive production to shine, but when it does so it shines brightly, making a wine of good extract and flavor, with a firm acidic backbone enabling it to resist the passage of time in the bottle. It is a grape of real interest deserving wider national and international attention.”  Falanghina still has not gotten the recondition it deserves.



IMG_8711 2Sannio Greco DOP “Albosco” Biovegan Fontana Reale made from 100% Greco grown on espalier farm land.  The pruning is guyot with a double shoot. Harvest tales place from the third week of September to the first week of October. The harvest is  exclusively by hand. Whole grapes are pressed in a pneumatic press without destemming and then put into thermorefreshable steel fermenters. White wine fermentation until the sugar is exhausted. There is a bentonite clarification of the wine. Aging is in steel for a minimum of 6 months then the wine is filtered and bottled. Fruity and floral aromas with hints of white peach, nice mnerality and a note of almond.

IMG_8707 3Ambrato Di Montelmalo Benevento Falanghina IGT Rossovermiglio Manual harvesting with a selection of the grapes. Vinification takes place with maceration of the must and the skins for  seven days. Then draining and decanting in French oak barrels of second passage for two months. Aging on the lees in steel for 6 months.  This is how the producer describes the wine: “At sight Ambrato di Montemalo has an intense yellow color tending to amber, with evident golden reflections. The contact of the must with the skins accentuates the aromaticity, which expresses intense scents of white flowers, chamomile, ripe fruit with evident shades of apricot and peach, orange zest and green almond, hints of white pepper, tobacco and vanilla. Its consistency, freshness and complexity make it a wine of excellent balance and extraordinary gustatory persistence. It is an advantage to uncork the bottle half an hour before tasting to promote oxygenation.”  This same “orange” process is  done with Greco grapes. There was some controversy over this wine some saying they liked it while others said it did not taste like Falanghina at all.

Here is a reply from the producer of the wine:

Mariateresa De Gennaro

I am the producer of Ambrato di Montemalo, I confirm that our orange always offers interesting arguments for tastings, it is precisely for this reason that perhaps it was chosen in the panel.

Our Falanghina is produced with 100% falanghina grapes, the maceration with the skins accentuates the characteristic notes of the Falanghina grape, and what you find in the glass is 100% Falanghina with all its specific characteristics.
I’m sure it will never be the same as Falanghina made with 85% Falanghina and 15% other blends, but these aren’t original.
Ambrato di Montemalo is a 100% Falanghina macerated with the skins, the others are blends created to satisfy all tastes.
Thank you very much for your article, the next time you come to Sannio I’ll wait for you in my cellar.

I have been drinking and enjoying the wines from Campania since I first visited there over 50 years ago and hope to be there again in February.









Filed under Coda di Volpe, Falanghina, Greco, Sannnio

Sip like the “Cool Kids”: What’s Trending in Italy

Last month I attended the Kobrand Tour d’ Italia held at the University Club in NYC.

IMG_8524There were three seminars followed by a Grand Tasting. I attended all three seminars and was intrigued by their titles. The first was Wine and Truffles which I wrote about a few weeks ago and the second had this interesting write up:

Seminar 2: Sip like the “Cool Kids”:  What’s trending in Italy- 12:40pm to 1:10pm

What are the vino cognoscenti drinking in Italy these days? Fashion hits Europe first, so it goes to follow that Italy’s wine trends are no different. Be the first among your wine group who’s in the know with a tasting of wines from around the boot. You’ll enjoy Super-Sardinians hailing from Italy’s isle in the sun, refreshing bubbles straight from the food mecca of Emilia-Romagna, prized labels from Italy’s green heart of Umbria, and more. Your taste buds will be alla moda with these trending wines!

   IMG_8088Wineries to be featured are Agricola Punica, Salviano, Villa Matilde, Medici Ermete, Tenuta di Salviano. The panel:  Salvatore Santus, Agricola Punica, Salvatore Avallone, owner Villa Matilda, Eleonora Spadolini, Project Manager for Tenuta di Salviano and Alessandro Medici, owner, Medici Ermete.

The following are the wines we tasted.

IMG_8089IGT Isola dei Nuraghi Bunica 2018 Agricola Punica made from 85 % Carignano, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot. The soil is of medium texture, clay like, sandy and calcareous.  The training system is spurred cordon. Manual harvest begins in early September and ends in the first half of October. Whole bunches are destemmed and crushed. The must ferments with the skins at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks for 15 days. Pumping over takes place as does malolactic fermentation.The wine is aged in French oak barriques of medium toast, 50% new and 50% one year old, for 18 months. Bottled without filtration or clarification and released after 6 months in bottle for 6 months before release. The wine has hints of black cherry, spice, licorice  myrtle and a note of vanilla. The winery was represented by Salvatore Santus. Salvatore said the winery was founded in 2002 by an all-star team of winemakers and consultants including the legendary Giacomo Tachis.  This wine was made based on the “Super Tuscan model” but produced in Sardinia.

IMG_8090Greco di Tufo 2021 Villa Matilde Made from 100% Greco. From vineyards at the Tenute di Altavilla state in Campania about an hour drive north of Naples. The soil is tuffaceous and marly clay. The vineyard is at 400/500 meters. There are 2,500 to 3,000 vines per hectare and the training system is guyot. Vines are 35 to 59 years old. Harvest is in late October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel with selected yeasts. The grapes are gently pressed and fermented off the skins. The wine ages for 4 months in stainless steel.  This is a complex wine with hints of apricots, white peaches, citrus and almonds with nice minerality. I have visited the winery a few times and have always been warmly welcomed by the owners Salvatore Avallone and his sister Maria Ida. I have been drinking and enjoying their wines for many years. At this seminar, Salvatore represented the winery. He said this is a family owned winery founded by his father Francesco Paolo in the 1960’s a lawyer with a passion for ancient wines.

IMG_8091Grechetto 2021 Tenuta di  SalvianoCastello di Titignano produced from Ghechetto di Todi grapes from vineyards surrounding the medieval village of Todi in Umbria. The vineyards are between 20 to 25 years old and are at 400 meters. Exposure is southwest and the soil is of organic origin, tuffaceous with fine gravel. Training system is counter-espalier, with guyot pruning.
Harvest is manual and the ripening period is during the second part of September. Grechetto di Todi is one of the last white varieties on the property to be harvested. Upon arrival in the cellar, the grapes are de-stemmed and undergo a soft pressing. The must ferments in steel tanks at a controlled temperature of 18 degrees Celsius.  Aging on the lees follows until the following March to enrich its organoleptic characteristics. Before bottling, the wine is filtered with potassium caseinate-based cartridges. Finally, the wine is left in the bottle for at least four months before being marketed. The wine has hints of apple, pear, floral notes a touch of spice and almonds. Eleonora said this historic estate is owned by the Incisa della Rocchetta family, the producers of Sassicaia.

IMG_8092Reggiano Lambrusco Concetto 2021 Medici Ermete. This red wine is dry and lightly sparkling and fermented naturally. Made from 100% Lambrusco Salamino.  The training system is cordon speronato and the soil is clayey.  It has hints of red fruit, strawberry, raspberry and cherry.  The wine is dry and fruity with a clean finish and pleasing aftertaste. Alessando said Concerto is the world’s first single vineyard vintage Lambrusco and the wine is certified organic It should be is served lightly chilled. This is a family owned and operates winery and Alessandro  who represented the winery is the fifth generation. I was in Bologna two weeks ago and drank this Lambrusco whenever I saw it on a wine list. It was an excellent combination with the food.

“Sip Like the Cool Kids”:  What’s Trending in Italy, was the title of this presentation.  So now you know!

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Filed under Grecchetto Salviano, Greco, Kobrand, Lambrusco