Delve Into Sannio: The Rising Star of Campania

Sannio Vineyards

When exploring the wines of Campania, one must venture into the hills north of Naples to the subzone of Sannio Benevento, located in the province of Benevento. This hilly area is still relatively unknown to most. What makes this area unique is its recognition of the Falanghina and Aglianico wines, the two defining grapes of the Sannio DOP. They are referred to as Falanghina del Sannio and Aglianico del Taburno.

Sannio comes from “Samnium,” which means “land of the Samnites,” a pre-Roman civilization that once resided in this area. The region gained its DOC status in 1997. Since that time, other DOCs within the Sannio boundaries have become subregions. The DOC produces sixty different types of wine. Besides Falanghina and Aglianico the region also grows Piedirosso, Barbera del Sannio, Sommarello, Sciascinoso, Greco, Coda id Volpe, Agostinella, and Moscato.

The grapes grow in clay, limestone and volcanic soils. In addition to the Falanghina del Sannio DOC and Aglianico del Taburno DOCG, Sannio includes the Sannio DOC and the Benevento or Benventano IGT.

Sannio produces about half of all the wine from Campania. Seventy percent of these wines are white. There are 7,900 winegrowers, with 2,500 of them belonging to three cooperatives. The DOC requires that all wine grapes grow on hillside vineyards, where they benefit from the warmer, drier conditions. The local food in Campania also benefits from these conditions.

Falanghina Grape © Sannio Consorzio Tutela
Falanghina Grape

Falanghina

This white grape grows strictly in Italy, with 95% of the grapes cultivated in Campania. Of that, 80% comes from the Sannio Benevento region. Two varieties of the grape are used, Falanghina Beneventana and Falanghina Flegrea. Falanghina is an ancient grape that may have originated in Greece. The grape is the main white grape of the Falanghina del Sannio DOC. The Falanghina grape is used in sparkling, still, late harvest, and raisin wines.

Falanghina grows in different soil types but flourishes best in hilly areas and prefers hot, dry climates.

The grape is known for its zesty citrus fruit aromas. One finds apple, pear, and tropical flavors with bitter almonds on the finish and mineral notes on the palate.

Aglianico Grape © Sannio Consorzio Tutela
Aglianico Grape

Aglianico

Some say Aglianico is the “The Barolo of the South” because of its ability to produce refined and complex wine. In the Monte del Taburno area in the Province of Benevento, the production of Aglianico wines contain the DOCG designation. Aglianico del Taburno became a DOCG in 2011.

Under the Aglianico Del Taburno DOCG the areas of wine production include: Apollosa, Bonea, Campoli del Monte Taburno, Castelpoto, Foglianise, Montesarchio, Paupisi, Torrecuso e Ponte, Benevento, Cautano, Vitulano e Tocco Caudio, in the Province of Benevento.

The Aglianico grape is known for its rich, earthy, and savory character. The wine reveals blackberry, currant, and baking spice aromas and flavors. Aglianico is a full-bodied, often an intense wine with firm tannins and high acidity. The grapes are used in both red wine and Rosé. The Aglianico Rosé represents the first Italian Rosé classified as a DOCG.

Sannio Wines © Cori Solomon
Falanghina and Aglianico Wines

Sannio Consorzio Tutela Vini Wines

Corte Normanna Falanghina.del Sannio Spumante Brut 2020: This Sparkling Falanghina is created in the Charmant Method, like Prosecco. The wine is light and fresh with citrusy flavors.

Terre Stregate Svelato Falanghina del Sannio 2020: By far my favorite at the tasting won a Tre Bicchieri from Gambero Rosso, a coveted award given to Italian wines. I found flavors of green apple with bitter almond on the finish.

La Guardiense Janare Falanghina Del Sannio Senet 2020: One of the largest cooperatives in Sannio and Italy produced this Falanghina. I found a more viscous wine with fruity aromas and ripe fruit on the palate.

La Rivolta Aglianico del Taburno Rosso DOCG 2017: This wine ferments in stainless steel before aging for one year in neutral oak. The wine exhibited dark fruits, leather, and spice. This Aglianico has aging potential.

I love introductions to new wine regions and varieties, and this wine tasting was no different. Italy is a treasure trove of indigenous grapes and regions that keeps me intrigued.

Note: Common to the wine industry, this writer received a hosted winetasting luncheon. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.

Many of the photos are courtesy of the Consorzio.