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.
About the Wine: Clime Wines 2018 Falanghina
Fermented in one neutral French Oak barrel and one Stainless drum, and kept on the lees for 10 months.
53 cases produced
Appearance: very clean and clear, pale lemon
Aroma: Medium (+), youthful aromas of beeswax/pollen, apple, lemon, baby’s breath, yogurt, biscuit, pear nectarine, melon, wet stone
Palate: The palate is dry with a medium (+) acidity, medium level of alcohol, medium (-) body, and a medium (+) flavor intensity that enlivens all of the aromatics listed above, but adds to it a hint of wet grass, almonds, and enhances the beautiful floral notes. The finish is medium (+) in length.
Conclusion: Based on the WSET criteria, I determined that this wine is very good. The fact that the winemaking utilized both the lees as well as just a touch of oak adds just enough complexity to both the mouthfeel and the aromas/flavors to keep this subtle wine interesting. The level of acidity keeps the wine alive from start to finish, ensuring that fresh fruits balance with those dominant floral notes. The finish, while not long by definition, certainly does linger traveling from apple to citrus fruits, and then fading into florals.
I recommend enjoying this wine now, as I don’t believe it’s intended for any kind of long-term bottle aging. Best pairing is something light—either a veggie or a seafood dish—that doesn’t have any dominant spices or sauces. Let the wine talk to you while you enjoy it. I think you’ll find it has a surprising amount to say.
More Info: I received the Clime Wines 2018 Falanghina as a sample. (Cheers!) Price: $22. For more information about Clime Wines, their wine, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Clime Wines website.
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