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Terredora di Paolo Falanghina Irpinia 2007
Named “Oenotria” by the ancient Greeks for its abundance of grapevines, Italy has always had a culture that is virtually inextricable from wine. Wine grapes are grown just about everywhere throughout the country—a long and narrow boot-shaped peninsula extending into the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas. The defining geographical feature of the country is the Apennine Mountain range, extending from Liguria in the north to Calabria in the south. The island of Sicily nearly grazes the toe of Italy’s boot, while Sardinia lies to the country’s west. Climate varies significantly throughout the country, with temperature being somewhat more dependent on elevation than latitude, though it is safe to generalize that the south is warmer. Much of the highest quality viticulture takes place on gently rolling, picturesque hillsides.
Italy boasts more indigenous varieties than any other country—between 500 and 800, depending on whom you ask—and most wine production relies upon these native grapes. In some regions, international varieties have worked their way in, but their use is declining in popularity, especially as younger growers begun to take interest in rediscovering forgotten local specialties. Sangiovese is the most widely planted variety in the country, reaching its greatest potential in parts of Tuscany. Nebbiolo is the prized grape of Piedmont in the northwest, producing singular, complex and age-worthy wines. Other important varieties include Montepulciano, Trebbiano, Barbera, Nero d’Avola, and of course, Pinot Grigio.
Though to be an ancient transplant from Greece, the grape takes its name from the Greek word, phalanga, meaning stake or pole, in reference to the Greek method of training vines to single stakes. Thriving throughout Campania, it plays a key role in many regional blends and grows widely from the north in Falerno del Massico DOC zone to Naples where, along the slopes on Mount Vesuvius, local grapes called Verdeca, Coda di Volpe and Greco take well to it’s addition. On the Amalfi Coast, it is added to Biancolella as well as Greco. Around Avellino, it can be made into single varietal versions, like its compatriots: Fiano and Greco.
Falanghina produces attractive and unoaked wines with an alluring piney resin and citrus blossom fragrance, which are juicy and refreshing on the palate. Try it with a classic Caprésé salad of mozzarella, heirloom tomato and fresh basil.