I had no idea what a Falanghina was before Byron over at Clime Wines sent me one. So, what better place to turn than the glorious pages of the Oxford Companion to Wine? (A must for anyone going through the WSET Diploma program. Or self-proclaimed super-wine-nerds…)
Falanghina: “…It produces attractive, unoaked, fragrant wines of real interest. Modern fermentation enabled producers to preserve its aromas, which gave it a new lease of life from the mid-1990s.”
The grape, if you can’t tell by the name, traces its heritage back to Italy. According to the Oxford Companion, there are two varieties: the less common Falanghina Beneventana of Benevento province and the “leafy-smelling” Falanghina Flegrea of Campi Flegrei, “Campania’s signature white wine grape…and is now the base for Falerno del Massico and Sannio DOCs.” It’s noted that the 2010 Italian vine census did not distinguish between the two when it counted more than 7,500 acres planted to the grape.
Well, there you go. But what about here in California? Well, if you do a search for it in the 2019 California grape crush report, you won’t find it, which means there’s probably so little planted that it falls into that “other white” category. But El Dorado County’s Viani Vineyard has some planted in a plot just overlooking the American River. The altitude, along with decomposed granitic soils, gives this wine a bit of a steely minerality mixed with its innate floral aromatics. And, contrary to what my encyclopedia says, winemaking utilizes a touch of neutral French oak as well, lending a bit of roundness in the mouthfeel to the very light-bodied wine, while lees aging adds a touch of complexity and structure.
Tis the season for digging into some refreshing white wines and Sauvignon Blanc is probably the stereotype of that sentiment. But what kind of Sauvignon Blanc drinker are you? (Assuming you like it at all.) Are you in the New Zealand super-grassy, overtly passionfruit camp? Or are you in the Loire with its steely minerality? Perhaps you prefer you SB with a bit of Semillon for texture and body.
There are so many different ways Sauvignon Blanc can be expressed based on climate, soil, and of course winemakers’ decisions. The Clos Du Val Sauvignon Blanc, for me, falls somewhere in between the NZ fruit fun and the Loire’s steely gaze, and ultimately balanced with just a touch of “something” extra that I’m going to equate with the Yountville terroir. It’s a Sauvignon Blanc that I look forward to each vintage.
Good Saturday morning! Here’s your list of the latest wine-related news I’ve been reading this past week. (Including one by yours truly.) There is a lot of good stuff here, so, once again, I hope this proves interesting, if not useful. Let me know your thoughts…
Anyone else ever feel like Nebbiolo is the grape that shouldn’t work. It’s so light in color, it’s practically see-through: a faint rouge hue with its rusty orange-y-brown aura that just hints that this wine isn’t what it appears to be: Firm in structure, full-bodied, and undeniably tannic, but balanced by an—at times—racey acidity. The classic aroma descriptor is “tar and violets,” as the wine typically includes scents and flavors of herbs, dried flowers, and the bitterness of a dark coffee. But one only has to taste the differing expressions coming from the Nebbiolo motherlands of Barolo, Barbaresco, as well as Asti and Alba to know that location and climate means everything to this grape.
Here is what California’s El Dorado County has to provide this dark beauty.
Besides the fact that this is a riff on probably the best Paul Simon song in existence, I wanted to highlight just another way the local wine community is coming together to support each other. The Wine Road is known for putting on awesome events showcasing the diversity that is the Sonoma wine region, now it’s become “the ‘one stop shop’ for links to virtual tastings, curbside delivery, as well as shipping and wine deals with wineries adding more tasting ideas and specials to the website daily.” The full press release with links is below. SIP Sonoma, save small businesses, and enjoy great wine. Cheers.
P.S. Bonus points if you can name all the masked wine marvels before the end credits.