When I was working as the wine director at a NYC Italian restaurant, Paola Mustilli from the Mustilli winery came in to have me sample their wines. We already carried some and I was more than willing to try the ones she brought.
After we tasted the Falanghina she handed me a book entitled “Falanghina” which included the work done by her father Leonardo Mustilli and her sister Anna Chiara Mustilli in saving the Falanghina grape. The authors are Antonella Monaco, Anna Chiara Mustilli and Luciano Pignataro.
She also invited me to the winery to taste older vintages of Falanghina. The winey is about 30 miles inland from Naples.
“Falanghina,” writes Luciano Pignataro in his opening line, “surely more than Aglianico, is the wine in which all Campania identifies, the wine that can best embody the local genius loci of the Neapolitan pleasure of the table.”
When I was in Benevento as one of the journalists at the Campania Stories tasting, I was finally able to take Paola up on her offer and went to the winery, over 10 years since our meeting in NYC. Paola, who takes care of the commercial end of the business and Anna Chiara, her sister who manages the vineyards and winemaking, greeted me.
Anna Chiara said that in 1979 her father, Leonardo Mustilli bottled the first single-variety commercial Falanghina in Campania. Then there were only 75 acres; today there are over 7,000 with the majority in Sannio. Sant’Agata dei Goti is a sub-region of the DOC Sannio and they are the only winery in the area. She said they have over 20 hectares all planted with indigenous varieties.
The Mustilli Family came to Sant’Agata dei Goti in the 14th century. Anna Chiara gave us a tour of the old underground cellar that the family has owned since the 17 century. In 2002 they built a new structure right outside the town.
Falanghina Sannio DOC 100% Falanghina from estate vineyards, at 800 ft. located in Sant’Agata del Goti, with volcanic soil, facing southwest. The age of the vines is 10 to 30 years. Hand-harvest in mid-October. Fermented on indigenous yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in tanks for 12 months. This is a fresh wine with hints of lemon and apple with good acidity.
Piedirosso Sannio DOC 100% Piedirosso from the Pozzillo vineyard, which is at 800 ft. The soil is volcanic and clay and the exposure is southwest. The wines are between 10 and 20 years old. The grapes are hand harvested in late October. Fermented on indigenous yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for 6 months. The wine has very nice fruit with hints of plums, violets and a hint of bell peppers.
Greco Sannio Sant’ Agata De’ Goti DOC 100% Greco. The grapes are cultivated in the vineyards of Presta and Pozzillo in the commune of S. Agata dei Goti. The vineyard has a southwest exposure at 250 meters. Training system is guyot and there are 3,300 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand in the middle of October. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature at 15C for about two weeks. Aging is in steel with periodic batonnage. The wine has hints of white peach, apricot and anise with good acidity and a touch of almonds in the finish and aftertaste.
Aglianico Sannio DOC 100% Aglianico from vineyards at 800ft. with volcanic and clay soil and a southwest exposure. The vines are 30 years old. Fermented on indigenous yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in French second passage barriques for 9 months and in bottle for 3 months before release.
Aglianico Sanno DOC ‘Cesco di Nece’ 100% Aliganico from the “Cesco di Nece,” organically planted vineyard in 1994 and is 3 hectares. Harvest is at the end of October. Grapes are destemmed and crushed. Fermentation lasts for about 15 days in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Maturation is second passage French oak for 9 months. Lightly fined, unfiltered and a small SO2 addition before bottling. It is aged for 9 months in bottle before release.