A map can be defined as a representation of a place, often an illustration on paper of the geological markers and boundaries of a given area. For Marco Giulioli, winemaker at La Guardiense, however, the maps he uses are not mere two-dimensional drawings of the cooperative’s 1500 hectares of land under vine. They are, rather, incredibly detailed windows into the distinct terroirs in the Telesina Valley and the farming programs of the 1000 members working more than 3500 vineyard plots in this region of Campania.
La Guardiense is the largest regional producer of wine from Falanghina, an aromatic white grape not widely grown or known outside of Campania, but one that is similar to Riesling in its ability to communicate its terroir, especially its soils. For Marco, cultivating this indigenous varietal and understanding its relationship to the different terroirs in the area has created a “revolution” in the vineyards and in the winery, one that has been achieved in part due to his remarkable maps. The culmination of more than 20 years of work with local universities, these maps – accessible through an app on his phone – provide invaluable insights for Marco about who owns a vineyard, what is being grown and which specific farming techniques are being employed, to give a picture of what’s going on in the diverse vineyards plots in the valley.
This level of scrutiny makes perfect sense when you consider the range of soil types in the area, which exist often just metres apart along the same river valley. A farmer working a number of small vineyard plots may actually encounter all three soil types – volcanic, sand and black soils of calcareous clay – and must understand how each soil produces a vastly different expression of the Falanghina grape and thus the resulting wine. The investment in mapping soil makeup in the region and Marco’s ability to communicate this information to farmers is essential to the quality of La Guardiense’s wines.
Thanks to the scale of the cooperative and the amount of land under vine, Marco is able to work with different tiers of Falanghina to express the unique translation of diverse soils. His system of “itinerant crus” is not focused on specific vineyards, but allows him to take the best grapes from any of the 3500 vineyards plots for his top wines, something else the intricate mapping helps him to determine year over year. The revolution with Falanghina is clearly well under way with farmers and in the winery, and now, Marco hopes, it will also be in the minds of people trying his wines.
We are thrilled to offer a mixed case of three of La Guardiense’s Falanghina wines, each coming from different soil types and displaying amazingly different characteristics – see below for detailed descriptions. These are wonderful examples of how this versatile and expressive grape reacts to its environment and how a winemaker with the right knowledge and tools can translate that relationship for us.
Falanghina Mixed Case, 4 bottles each of:
Janare 2021 ‘Alfabeto’ Falanghina del Sannio, Campania
Janare 2020 ‘Senete’ Falanghina del Sannio, Campania
Janare 2020 ‘Anima Lavica’ Falanghina del Sannio, Campania
$315.00 (including tax)
Order now for delivery after August 29th
Click HERE to order!
Each wine is also available by the case – click HERE to order.
Grapes are sourced from a wide selection of the best vineyards from all across the valley, all with different soil compositions, making complexity a solid foundation for the wine and allowing for consistent quality with every vintage. Alfabeto is a benchmark for what Falaghina from this region should be, full of ripe tropical fruit aromatics along with pretty floral notes in balance. On the palate, the wine is weighty, with recognizable higher alcohol typical of the region, but with the freshness of excellent balancing acidity.
93 points – Matt Walls, Decanter
The grapes for the Cru ‘Senete’ Falanghina come from a 30 ha vineyard with calcareous clay soils that rises from 150m to 400m above sea level. Each year, the best parcel of this vineyard is chosen for the wine. Cryo-maceration – a technique in which grapes are stabilized at very low temperatures to improve the extraction of aromatics and flavour compounds contained in the grape skins – is done for up to six hours, followed by a gentle pressing. A cool fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for 20 days and the wine is aged in bottle for at least a year before release. The nose of Senete expresses intense floral and tropical fruit notes with a decisive citrus edges. On the palate there is a richness and opulence balanced by a fresh and delineated mineral core. Like a great Riesling, this wine has the potential to age, with fruit notes transforming into focused minerality.
Grapes for this Cru come from vines averaging 15 years old, grown exclusively in volcanic soils. After harvest, grapes undergo the same process as the ‘Senete’ Falanghina: cryomaceration, a gentle pressing and cool fermentation, demonstrating that the differences in the finished wines are due to the differences in soil types, not the winemaking. The nose of ‘Anima Lavica’ expresses sweet peaches and melon along with hints of stone dust and incense. On the palate, a silky texture paves the way for flavours of green apple, orchard fruit, gingery spice and a tension-filled finish. This is a more delicate style of Falanghina, a bit softer on the palate with lower acidity and more nuanced and elegant floral qualities that stretch into a generous yet elegant finish.
$315.00 (including tax)
Click HERE to order!
Order now for delivery after August 29thEach wine is also available by the case – click HERE to order.
About La Guardiense
In the post-war years, Campania was a strikingly poor agricultural region, with little infrastructure and limited access to markets. Grapes were sold to wineries in Naples and Rome, and prices were controlled by the buyers – often below the cost of production. Established in 1960, La Guardiense is an important co-op located in the region of Sannio, near the city of Benevento, created to provide a reliable market for local grower’s grapes. It began with 33 members who decided to control their own fate, to produce and sell the wine made from their grapes. Today, there are 1,000 members farming 1,500 hectares, and La Guardiense is one of the largest co-operative wineries in Italy.
Domizio Pigna is the visionary president of the organization, elected by members every 2 years. He’s been in this role for more than 20 years, and is only the 3rd president in La Guardiense’s 60-year history. Dr. Pigna is responsible for guiding the members to high-quality grape growing, and away from a volume mentality. His vision is to contribute to the social as well as economic vitality of his region, and he is credited with creating an environment in which many other wineries in the region benefit from improved research and resources. La Guardiense continually invests in projects designed to improve the long-term quality and prospects for its’ members. These include clonal and vineyard-management research, as well as sustainable, organic and sulphur-free production methods. With a particular focus on Falanghina and Aglianico, La Guardiense has become the most respected producer of these varietals in the region. Consecutive ‘Tre Bicchieri’ awards in 2017, ’18, ’19 and ‘20 confirm their standing.
Supporting his continual investment in improving quality through research and experimentation, Dr. Pigna has worked with the renowned winemaker and consultant Riccardo Cotarella since 2006. The dynamic winemaker Marco Giulioli, a protegé of Cotarella, directs vineyard and winemaking to help make La Guardiense one of the most highly regarded wineries in Campania, as well as one of the top co-op wineries in Italy.
Sparkling Falanghina is a specialty of the winery, and in 2014 an impressive new facility for the production of tank-fermented spumante was completed – one of the most technologically advanced facilities of its kind. Both tank-fermented and traditional method sparkling Falanghina are produced.
A special project of Dr. Pigna, called ‘i Mille’, is designed to motivate and reward member-growers of La Guardiense. I Mille references the 1,000 members of the co-op, and the i Mille Falanghina and Aglianico are impressive bottlings which show the highest potential for these grape varieties. Each vintage, the absolute best fruit is chosen for the program, and the farmers are encouraged to meet the highest standards of vineyard management so that their fruit is chosen. Every grower has the potential to have his/her fruit selected for i Mille, and it has become a badge of honour and a motivating factor in raising the bar for all the vineyards.
The premium range of wines is called ‘Janare’. In the Sannio region, Janare are the witch-like mythical figures of popular culture. They allude to the indomitable spirit of the women in the area, and to their ability in casting evil and deadly spells on their enemies. According to the legend these witches hide their true identity during the day, and at night, after covering their bodies in a magic ointment, they fly into the air on their broomsticks. Before flying into the sky the witches would gather in a coven and recite the famous words Sott’a l’acqua, sott’a ‘r vient, sott’a la noc d’Bnvient – ‘Under the water and under the sky, under the Walnut tree of Benevento’. In this way La Guardiense pays homage to this ancient tradition of the Sannio region and in so doing hopes to keep it alive.
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