Falanghina is an ancient white grape variety that flourished during Roman antiquity, and may have been used to make the most famous wine of the era, Falernian. It hails from the Southwest Campania region of Italy and is grown there today, though it is not widely cultivated outside of Italy. It is primarily grown in warm to hot climates and shows adaptability to different soils, as well as resistance to powdery and downy mildew.
Origins and History
Falanghina, derived from the Latin word ‘falangae’, which describes a stake used to support vines, is an ancient white wine grape variety of Greek origin. Around 7th century BC, the Greeks explored southern Italy and determined that the climate was perfect for growing grapes. They founded the city of Neopolis, known today as Naples, in the Southwest wine region of Campania. Falanghina was among the grapes grown in Campania, and has flourished there since Roman antiquity, possibly having been used to make the most famous wine of the era, Falernian. Falanghina is still grown in Campania today, though it has not been widely cultivated in other countries. It is suitable for warm to hot climates and shows adaptability to different soils, as well as resistance to powdery and downy mildew. In 2005 DNA sequencing was performed on samples from Compania and revealed that two unique Falanghina genotypes existed in the region: Falanghina Beneventana and Falanghina Campi Flegrei, both widely grown respectively in the regions of Benevento and Napoli.
Considering the ampelographic traits of Falanghina; the bud has an expanded apex, cottony, and light green in color with crimson edges. The leaves are medium or small, wedge shaped, almost whole or slightly three-lobed; they present slightly wavy, medium-green and almost smooth with a downy underside. The petiolar sinus is lyre or U-shaped. The cluster is medium-sized, semi-sparse, truncated, conical and cone shaped if it develops a short wing. The medium, spheroid and yellow-gray berry has a thick skin with a frosted appearance; the flesh has a crunchy texture and a sweet, slightly floral flavor.
A study by Damiano et al. on Falanghina grown at four sites in southern Italy found that depending on Falanghina’s climatic environment and soil moisture levels, it can adapt moderately well to hot and dry climates as well as moisture rich climates.
Hilly, well-exposed soils are ideal to enhance the quality of Falanghina. Falanghina is a vigorous vine with a semi-upright growth habit and is slightly susceptible to Botrytis and sour rot, though shows tolerance to powdery and downy mildew. It is traditionally recommended to cane-prune Falanghina, but spur-pruned Falanghina vines in Parlier (Fresno County, California) trials were moderately productive, and machine pruning further increased yield (Table 1).
Falanghina is known to retain its acidity. This quality can be noted from the Parlier (Fresno County, California) trials (Table 2). In Italy, Falanghina is made into sparkling and passito wines, as well as dry table wines. Usually Falanghina is a light bodied wine and is unoaked, though it can be made into a fuller bodied wine if a small percentage is oak fermented.
FPS. Foundation Plant Services, Grape Variety: Falanghina. Foundation Plant Services Grapes (2023). Available at: https://fps.ucdavis.edu/fgrdetails.cfm?varietyid=1961. (Accessed: 16th February 2023)
Vitis Rauscedo, General Catalog (2007).
Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo. Falanghina. Available at: www.vivairauscedo.com/en/product-sheet/falanghina-2/. (Accessed 14th February 2023)
Robinson, J., J. Harding, J. Vouillamoz. 2012. Wine Grapes. HarperCollins, New York
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