• Wine and Climate Change: Winemaking in a New World
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  • Pairing Wine and Food: A Handbook for All Cuisines
    Pairing Wine and Food: A Handbook for All Cuisines
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  • Great Wine Tours of the World
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    De juiste wijn bij het juiste gerecht
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  • Good Food, Fine Wine: A Practical Guide to Finding the Perfect Match
    Good Food, Fine Wine: A Practical Guide to Finding the Perfect Match


Falerno del Massico 

Falerno del Massico Rosso DOC

Tasting at home with dinner. I met Nicola Trabucco and Masssimo at Vinitaly last year and they sent me all of these wines from a collection of different producers to taste. I have always been a big fan of Falerno, and the only one we can find in the UK is Villa Matilde, which is gorgeous, and which I tasted at my first Vinitaly in 1994, and fell in love. But we need more. Falerno is one of the oldest Roman appellations still in production. In general, their planting densities are about 5000 pieds par hectare and yields are about 70 hectolitres par hectare. This is a bit high and is further increased by the fact that their re-planted vines are young (about 5 years). The appellation is struggling with an image problem. Consumers are confused of which “style” is the “right” style for Falerno, because they are also allowed to make Falerno with Primitivo. It is not “wrong” to use it – all these grapes have been used forever in this area, but it means there exists another “sort” of Falerno. For me, I preferred those issued from Aglianico and Piedrosso. Again, we can drag the international vs traditional debate into the equation. Despite their using only indigenous varieties, there are some here trying to give their wines an international appeal: big extracts, big wood, big fruit. In this tasting the 2006 wines clearly stood out from the younger vintages and so I will go back to these in a few years and see if they mature as nicely as the 2006. In fact, I want to organise a more comprehensive tasting of these wines London this year. I need to taste these again – I swear that somewhere I have more complete notes on these wines…

Guarasi 2007, Fattoria Pagano

80% Aglianico Taurasi, 20% Piedrosso

Steel aging for 10 months, bottle, 6 months. Like this. Has a unique, personable style

Don Gennaro 2007, Cantina Capizzi

Liked it a lot. Elegant and well-made

80% Aglianico Taurasi and 20% Piedrosso. 12 months in barrique. 13.5 alc. High altiture plantings. Great body and structure. Tannins fondues, well-made.

Rapicano 2007, Trabucco

80/20 Aglianico, Piedrosso, as above. But hot, unbalanced? Potential? Awkward and unfocused. All over the place.

Angelus 2007, Fattoria Pagano

Again, same encépagement as above. Big first attack of cinnamon, spice, but heavily-oaked, too much?

Mille880 2007, Bianchini Rossetti

Same info – didn’t like it. Too cherry bon-bon, medicinal.

Ri Sassi  2006, Volpara

Highest elevation of the wines, 3 mos in barriques neufs, top of volcano, lots of sun, again, too hot, but nice.

Tuoro Reserve 2006, Volpara

Great finish, well made, elegant, good finish

I had an entire series of the 2006 and can’t find the notes – so instead, I will insert this article I wrote for Taste Italia! Magazine in March. You will see what I mean when I say that we need more Falerno available in the UK.

Falerno del Massico

The Ancient Romans loved their wines. This we know: Their literature is riddled with vinous references. The best-known and most comprehensive tome being Pliny the Eldest’s Natural History, in which he dedicates an entire volume (Book IVX) to wine cultivation and its classification. At the top of the list was Falernum, from the slopes of Mt. Falernus on the border between Latium and Campania.  This fabled wine even has its own legend: Bacchus descended one day, in disguise, upon the slopes of Mount Massico, where he met a poor farmer named Falerno. The farmer did not hesitate to offer his unexpected guest his best foods. Moved by the farmer’s generousity, Bacchus transformed his cup of milk into wine. Falerno drank deeply and fell into a long sleep. Upon his awakening, his land was covered in fertile vineyards. The ancient Falerno was a white wine that was aged 10-12 years until an amber colour. As with many of their wines, it was potent and thus, often cut with water to temper its alcohol content or with herbs, to reduce its acidity. Today, Falerno del Massico D.O.C. is still made from the Falanghina grape, which is thought to have been brought by Roman merchants from Greece and which is enjoying a major revival, as are all of the ancient varieties at the moment. The reds from this appellation are from the Aglianico, Piedirosso and Primitivo grapes. Truly historic!


Villa Matilde Falerno del Massico Bianco D.O.C. , 2007


Simply stunning. Family-run estate that has painstakingly re-established ancient vineyards. Wine is elegant, unctuously textured, with ripe pineapple, peach, sage, rose and more.

Villa Matilde Falerno del Massico Rosso D.O.C. 2005


(or £100/6 bottles from )

The Rosso is 80% Aglianico and 20% Piedrosso. A heady beast of spicy, dark chocolate, black cherry and violets… Great balance and complexity.

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