Discovering Sannio DOP in Southern Italy

Falanghina, with its fresh floral, stone fruit, and almost notes, and Aglianico with its beautiful fruit and floral aromas and mouthfeel, are two Italian grapes I love drinking. Sannio DOP is a hilly area north of Naples where grapes like Falanghina and Aglianico grow. I loved learning about this area at a recent lunch and wrote about this discovery in the Napa Valley Register and share here.

Campania, located in the south of Italy, is famous for attractions such as the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Positano, Ravello, Ischia, Capri, Naples, Vesuvius, as well as Pompeii and Herculaneum. But in addition to the historical archeological sites, the beaches and the food (especially the pizza), Campania is a region with delicious wines to discover.

Wine production is spread across Campania with three main provinces, Avellino, Benevento and Caserta. While I did not visit the wine region of Sannio in the province of Benevento when I was in Campania, I recently enjoyed a virtual visit to Sannio.

Sannio, which received DOC status in 1997, is a hilly area located 30 miles north of Naples. The rolling hillsides and altitudes, as well as the clay and limestone soils, make Sannio an ideal location for grape growing. Two of the grapes that shine in this region are the white grape Falanghina and the red grape Aglianico.

Falanghina is an ancient white grape variety grown in Campania. Sannio is one of the best production zones for it and is where the majority of Falanghina is planted in Campania. Falanghina del Sannio DOC includes Falanghina made as white wine, a sparkling wine, a late harvest wine and a passito wine. Falanghina produces wines that are fresh with floral, stone fruit and almond notes. This was exemplified in the three wines I tasted.

Discovering Sannio DOP in Southern Italy

Corte Normanna Falanghina del Sannio Brut ($12): Brothers Gaetano and Alfredo Falluto released their first labeled bottles in 1997 and make two sparkling wines with Falanghinan. The Corte Normanna Falanghina del Sannio is a brut wine made in the Charmat method (tank method). The wine spends 10 months on the lees in what they call “Charmat Lungo” (long Charmat method). With floral and citrus notes, the wine is bright and fresh with very delicate bubbles. Acidity is high and there is a bitter almond note on the finish, a common marker of Falanghina.

Discovering Sannio DOP in Southern Italy

La Guardiense ‘Janare’ Falanghina del Sannio 2020 ($11): Made up of 1000 members, La Guardiense is a cooperative in the Campania region. Janare is one of the brands produced by the cooperative and focuses on local grape varieties, especially Falanghina and Aglianico. The Falanghina comes from the best vineyards of the cooperative. The grapes are softly pressed and fermented in stainless steel tanks before bottling. Pink grapefruit, peach, melon, and mango notes are reinforced by fresh acidity and minerality.

Discovering Sannio DOP in Southern Italy

Terre Stregate ‘Svelato’ Falanghina del Sannio 2020 ($23): The Lacobucci family of Terre Stregate Winey have produced Falanghina since 1898. This Falanghina has received the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri Award seven years in a row. The Falanghina has a beautiful floral nose that is captivating. Additional aromas of citrus, apple, pineapple, and aromatic herbs give way to a fresh and savory wine with a velvety texture.

Aglianico, often referred to as the “king of the south,” is native to southern Italy where it is found in Campania and Basilicata. In Campania, there are two DOCGs for Aglianico. Taurasi DOCG is located east of Naples and Aglianico del Taburno DOCG is in the north in the province of Benevento. The grapes are grown around Mount Taburno in calcareous clay soil. Aglianico del Taburno DOCG is red wine and can also be made as a reserve wine or a rosato. Typical descriptors include cherry, blackberry, currant, violets, dried rose petals, vanilla, black pepper, cloves and leather.

Discovering Sannio DOP in Southern Italy

Fattoria La Rivolta Aglianico del Taburno 2018 ($23): The Cotroneo family has been farming in Benevento for several generations. In 1997 brothers Mario and Paolo Cotroneo launched Fattoria La Rivolta and farm 29 hectares without the use of chemicals. The Aglianico del Taburno is 100 percent Aglianico fermented with natural yeasts in stainless steel and then aged for 18 months in neutral barrels. With intense yet balanced tannins and acidity, the wine is a bold and complex wine with notes of dark red cherry, plum, violets, licorice, and leather.

After being introduced to these wines from Sannio, I look forward to my next trip to Campania where I will delve further into these wines.

Read the original story in the Napa Valley Register.