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Photo for: Campania's Wine Renaissance: A Journey of Increasing Quality and Identity, a Spotlight on Falanghin


Campania's Wine Renaissance: A Journey of Increasing Quality and Identity, a Spotlight on Falanghin

Exploring the Revival of Campania's Wine Industry and the Rise of Falanghina

Importers and distributors should keep an eye on Campania as a dynamic wine production region with strong potential. Substantial consumer education, including entering wine competitions, will help solidify Campania’s wines, like Falanghina, as consumer favorites.

Campania's wine industry today reflects a substantial transformation over the last two decades, with a general rising trend in exports. However, in 2023, Campania’s wine exports collapsed (-21.5%) to 49.7 million just behind Calabria (-25.7%).  

So what is the overall outlook? And will the hallmark varietals, like Falanghina, continue to find solid markets abroad? 

Campania Revamps Its Wine Quality

Three decades ago, Campania struggled with a limited number of noteworthy names and wines that were often perceived as too rustic and challenging. However, recent years have witnessed a remarkable upswing in quality, driven by pioneering producers pushing for excellence. Such producers are reclaiming and reviving ancient vineyards, particularly those at higher elevations that were once deemed too difficult to cultivate by larger industrial firms. They are also moving away from the heavy-handed use of new oak, opting instead for larger barrels to achieve better balance in their wines. 

One of the most notable improvements has been in the realm of white wines, with varieties like Fiano, Falanghina, and Greco showcasing their world-class potential. However, the market is still flooded with lackluster wines, particularly those produced by larger, industrial wineries that focus more on technical prowess than on crafting wines with distinct terroir expression. Despite these challenges, Campania is experiencing a wave of innovation and revitalization, with a new generation of winemakers embracing sustainable practices and championing the region's unique grape varieties.

Image: Higher-altitude Campania vineyards; source:

Producers like Feudi di San Gregorio and Mastroberardino are leading the charge, with meticulous vineyard mapping and experimentation with single-vineyard Aglianico wines. This focus on terroir is a significant shift in a region where the house style often took precedence over showcasing specific vineyard sites. While there is still much work to be done in terms of promoting regional identities and enhancing cooperation among growers, Campania's wine industry is undoubtedly on an upward trajectory, producing a range of exceptional, balanced, and age-worthy wines that highlight the region's diverse terroir. 

Spotlight on Falanghina

In 2015, the New York Times described a surge in Falanghina’s popularity but noted that the varietal wine was still widely misunderstood. In fact, the grape “Falanghina” consists of two genetically distinct varieties, Falanghina Beneventana and Falanghina Flegrea. These varieties are often blended together, but they can also be found separately in wines labeled as such. 

The New York Times highlighted a tasting of 20 Falanghina wines from Campania, which left an expert panel with more questions than answers. While some wines showed potential, others were deemed simple and straightforward, leading to speculation about whether producers were catering to low expectations rather than showcasing the grape's true potential. 

Fast forward to today, and Falanghina has made progress. The 2017 vintage AGHATA 33.09 Campania Falanghina from Alabastra Cantine Pintore & Valentino Srl, for example, won 90 points at the London Wine Competition. And the 2019 Falanghina from Donna Elvira UK Ltd. won a Gold Award in the same wine competition in 2021. 

Image: London Wine Competition

This is because producers are now focusing more on showcasing the unique qualities of this Campania grape, with a move towards more terroir-driven expressions. Local expert Pasquale Carlo told a reporter that Falanghina represents “the most important economic voice of the Campania wine sector,” which ranks among the top 20 Italian wine regions. The US market is particularly important. This grape thrives in the volcanic soils of Campania, which impart a mineral character to the wines. In recent years, there has been an increase in single vineyard bottlings of Falanghina, highlighting the grape's ability to reflect the nuances of different vineyard sites. 

Indeed, recently Falanghina has even gained popularity among US winegrowers, with plantings increasing along the California coast. Its slow ripening and high acidity make it suitable for California's warmer climates. However, consumer awareness and pronunciation remain challenges for Falanghina. 

Looking ahead, Falanghina's future looks promising, especially as it adapts well to climate change and offers economic benefits for winemakers. Its champions hope to differentiate Falanghina wines and communicate their unique qualities to further enhance its reputation in the wine world. 

In the final analysis, Campania's wine industry has come a long way, with a renewed focus on quality, terroir expression, and sustainability. While challenges remain, particularly in promoting regional identities and combating low-quality wines, the region's wines are gaining recognition and appreciation among wine importers and distributors. Falanghina, with its distinctive character and adaptability, is poised to be a key player in Campania's export market, offering a unique taste of the region's rich viticultural heritage.

Heard Image Source: Vinity

Call for domestic and international submission is now open for London Wine Competition. Enter your wines before 31 August 2024 to get super early bird pricing. Register now and ship later to save.

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