Exploring the wines of Sannio, southern Italy

These notes accompany a in-depth feature on Sannio, Campania. For profiles of all of these estates please see Regional report: The wines and winemakers of Sannio.

Falanghina del Sannio DOP

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Corte Normanna, Falanghina del Sannio Spumante Brut, Campania, Italy
A charmat method wine with a bright and sherbetty nose, with citrus and apple, and the palate has a nice edge of sweetness to soften the citrus as well as bold, fresh, red apple juiciness. Very bright and fresh but has a pleasing softness and broadness too. 87/100.

La Vinicole del Titerno, Falanghina del Sannio Spumante Brut, Campania, Italy
Another tank method wine but seems much yeastier than the Normanna, but has a similar palate and fruit quality, perhaps not quite the vivid sparkiness of flavour, but a lovely lemon and lime purity. 87/100.

La Guardiense, Janare Spumante Metodo Classico Falanghina 2010, Campania, Italy
With 32 months on the lees this has plenty of small bubbles, with lovely struck match complexity – not sulphur, but a lovely sense of minerals and herbs, as well as bright lemony and apple fruit. Lovely Falanghina character, lots of punch and verve and delightful acidity. Long and a delicious. 90/100.

Mustilli, Sant’Agata de Goti Falanghina del Sannio 2014, Campania, Italy
Tasted on a visit to the winery and fully reviewed elsewhere, delicious citrus skin weight and texture, that hint of leesy character, lovely length and purity. 87/100.

Vinicola del Sannio, Falanghina del Sannio 2014, Campania, Italy
Biggest private winery of the region, working with many growers. A little more tanky and pear droppy, with yeastiness. Quite pure, quite sharply focused with plenty of acidity but perhaps lacking a little complexity. 85/100.

Wartalia, Falanghina del Sannio 2014, Campania, Italy
Small family winery, 100,000 bottles, buying from 15 growers. Classic Falanghina, with wax and blossom, pollen and apple skins. Full of fruit: vivid and orangy, a nice hint of nuts and honey, and a long, beautifully balanced finish. Very expressive and authentic. 88/100.

Vigne di Malies, ‘Opalis’ Falanghina del Sannio 2014, Campania, Italy
Very small winery, family owned producing only around 15,000 bottles. Bold yellow/emerald colour, slightly yeasty and tanky, more cool apple fruit coming through on nose and palate, with a hint of a smoky minerality too adding a little complexity. 87/100.

Terra di Briganti, Falanghina del Sannio 2014, Campania, Italy
From vineyards at high altitude of 450 metres, a young estate founded by two brothers 15 years ago on parent’s wine farm. Nice agritourismo with excellent cuisine. 35,000 bottles. More pear drop and youthful aromas, with plenty of flavour. 87/100.

Torre Venere, Falanghina del Sannio 2014, Campania, Italy
Very small winery of 5,000 bottles, only Falanghina and a little Barbera. Bold nose, lovely Falanghina quality with orange, bold apple and a hint of yeastiness, a hint of something a little rounder and more almond nuances. The palate is delicious, with plenty of ripeness and weight, plenty of peachy notes joining the ripe, rosy apple. Very nice. 89/100.

Fontana Reale, Falanghina del Sannio 2013, Campania, Italy
Very small winery, 20,000 bottles that are organic certified and vegan. Lovely hint of youthful emerald. A certain mineral smokiness to this, with grapefruit and even a hint of elderflower, but has a straightforward, balanced palate, quite creamy, and whilst fascinating and complex, perhaps lacking just a bit of brilliance. 87/100.

Oppida Aminea, Falanghina del Sannio 2013, Campania, Italy
A project led by the Moratori brothers who make wines across Italy. Around 20,000 bottles produced. Lovely winey nose, with a yeasty note, citrus peel and a touch of rosy red apple. Lovely juicy palate, with bold juiciness, that orange juice squirt and plenty of juice and freshness. 88/100.

Osvaldo Petrucciano, ‘La Badessa’ Falanghina del Sannio 2013, Campania, Italy
10,000 bottles Falanghina and Aglianico. Plenty of buttercup yellow colour, with a serious, complex nose, perhaps some wild yeast? Not sure if it is quite clean, but there is complexity on the palate if, again, a slightly odd note that is not quite pure. A tough one to call not knowing more about its style. 85/100.

Terre Stregate, ‘Svelato’ Falanghina del Sannio 2013, Campania, Italy
Intense, wonderfully expressive nose, with lifted aromatics, lots of peach kernel and honey and very vivid citrus. Hints of toffee, very complex. Rich and mouth-filling, with a lovely weight and concentration, the juiciness and fruit of this is lovely. 91/100.

La Guardiense, ‘Janare’ Falanghina del Sannio 2013, Campania, Italy
A selection of top Falanghina, around 20,000 bottles. Not a vineyard selection, but a tank selection. No malo, no wood. Long lees contact. Made in a dedicated winery for top wines within the big Guardiense cooperative, in a reductive environment. Again, lovely and vivid aromatics. Yeasty and bold, with but lovely floral aromatics, and citrus peel, very vividly fruity. Fresh and very vivid, flowing flavours. 89/100.

Fontana delle Selve, Falanghina del Sannio 2013, Campania, Italy
30,000-bottle family winery. A touch of herbal character, a touch of leafiness, perhaps a touch of oak? The palate has a very nice, direct, if fairly one dimensional citrus and apple juice character. 86/100.

Fattoria Ciabrelli, ‘Alexia’ Falanghina del Sannio 2013, Campania, Italy
40,000-bottle family winery. Bold and lightly mineral, smoky aromatics, with a touch of passion fruit. The palate has lots of weight and texture, and presence with fruit skin grip, a phenolic character, but finishes bold and fresh. Quite long too. 88/100.

Antica Masseria Vendetti, ‘Vandari’ Falanghina del Sannio 2013, Campania, Italy
75,000 bottles. Amongst first bottlers of the entire province. Unusual nose – little fruit character in this very deep, buttercup yellow wine, with more blossom and honey than fruit, more honey and nuttiness on the palate, very nice acidity, and a savoury, serious interpretation of the style. 89/100.

Ca’Stelle di Antichi, Falanghina del Sannio 2013, Campania, Italy
55,000 bottles. Vanilla and another deep yellow colour, with obvious oak treatment, very limpid and pure, with apple and a touch of pastry and spice and a honeyed richness to the fruit. This has a very pure, tangy palate too, lots of grapefruit and orange brightness, a distinctive wine with good acidity and lots of flavour fireworks. 90/100.

Morone Eleonara, ‘Alba Nore’ Falanghina del Sannio 2013, Campania, Italy
10,000 bottles, a winery run by the women of a local family which has been producing its own wines for 4 or 5 years. Nutty and yeasty tones to this, touches of toffee to the apple fruit. Some waxy lemon too. Suggests wild yeast again with a little earthiness. The palate has a savoury, dry, intense character, not so much fruity, but with really intense, juicy and decisive character. 89/100.

Aia Dei Colombi, ‘Vigna Suprema’ Falanghina del Sannio 2013, Campania, Italy
The top wine from a family estate producing around 90,000 bottles, a selection of vineyards and grapes. Compared to the wine before this has a sparky, vivid profile, with some leafiness and toffee notes, but punchy, leafy fruit quality. A very juicy tangerine and bright green apple vivaciousness, and has very good length. Delicious wine. 89/100.

Cantina Fosso Degli Angeli, Maior Falanghina del Sannio 2013, Campania, Italy
Small winery producing 25,000 bottles. High altitude vineyards at 500 metres. Lovely aromatics, touched with toffee and even chocolate/vanilla, but a pure, ripe pear and gentle leafiness. The palate has the same vivid fireworks, orange and nectarine, passionfruit and beautiful shimmering balance. 90/100.

Cantina Fontanarossa, Falanghina del Sannio 2012, Campania, Italy
Quite a light colour, and nicely light and sherbetty stuff, with juicy lemon and lime juice flavour and acidity, and plenty of verve still, if a touch one dimensional. 87/100.

Vigne Sannite, Falanghina del Sannio 2011, Campania, Italy
From magnum, Emerald green with a rich, toffee nose, plush and fruity, a certain impression of weight, with good juicy acids, but does not seem as intrinsically elegant as some here. Smooth and weighty, but maybe lacks a little dimension. 87/100. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

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Sannio DOP & Benevento IGP

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White wines

Cantine Fontana delle Selve, Fiano Sannio DOP 2014, Campania, Italy
Small winery producing 60,000 bottles for 15 years, fruit formerly sold to the coops. Refined, with delicious orange, delightful freshness and limpidity. Lovely nuttiness and finesse. 88/100.

Capolino Perlingieri Alexia, Greco Sannio DOP 2014, Campania, Italy
Greco is a low yielding variety, especially in this historical vineyard, where they have been bottling their own wines for 10 years. Fragrance, herbs, flowers and a gentle vanilla almost suggesting oak. Smooth, fine and refined palate. Does not quite follow through to the finish, but a really nicely balanced wine. 87/100.

Cautiero, Greco Sannio DOP 2014, Campania, Italy
Certified organic. One of the best estates, with 3 bicchieri for their Falanghina. A small winery of 20,000 bottles buying the best grapes. Smells a touch cream cheesy (malolactic), but lovely floral and slightly exotic fruit notes. Lovely palate, a smokiness and honey, a powerful wine, real concentration and some minerality, and feels like it will need time to open, but bags of flavour. 89/100.

Vinicola del Sannio, Greco Sannio DOP 2014, Campania, Italy
Biggest private producer of the area, six million bottles annually buying from 1,000 winegrowers. Elegant, with some depth of colour, some notes of orange and lemon, a gentle nuttiness. Full flavoured and persistent, with plenty of punch and weight. 88/100.

La Vinicole del Titerno, Coda di Volpe Sannio DOP 2013, Campania, Italy
A nice touch of honey and butter to this, with some delicate floral notes. Has a richness and skin contact bit of phenolic grip. Dry, with a touch of herbs, apple and very attractive freshness. From a large private winery that buys from local growers and produces three million bottles. Not great length, but very attractive. 86/100.

La Vinivola del Vecchio, Greco Sannio DOP 2012, Campania, Italy
From a winery in the volcanic region of Talese Therme. A medium to big winery, private, and producing some millions of bottles from mostly local growers. Lightly perfumed, but not terribly distinctive, some straw-like notes. Dry and quite full, with good balance. 84/100.

Masseria Parsi, Moscato di Baselice Passito Sannio DOP 2012, Campania, Italy
A beautiful golden colour, from a winery that specialises in Moscato, sparkling and sweet wines, from the coolest area of Sannio. Hints of orange and honey to typical floral notes. There is some toast and some nuttiness too, that comes through on the palate, with powerful flavour, full body and massive presence. Nice balancing acidity. Needs a slice of torte de la Nona. 89/100.

Rosé wine

Cantine Fontanarosa, Aglianico Rosato Benevento IGP 2013, Campania, Italy
A rosato of Aglianico. Soft pressing, short skin contact and cold vinification “like a white wine”. Medium and fairly soft pink colour. Cherry and a touch of red liquorice, though a little oxidised perhaps. with hint of sweetness on this, the palate is almost jammy, with redcurrant dryness. 84/100.

Red wines

Ca’Stelli di Antichi, Barbera Sannio DOP 2013, Campania, Italy
50,000 bottles from a small private winery. A very vivid purple colour. Smoky notes here over the floral nuances, with a charcoal character. The palate has lots of sweet fruit, but a more prominent bitter cherry note adding a touch of grip, but not quite so easy and fun as some. 86/100.

De Fortuna, Solopaca Rosso ‘Murto’ Sannio DOP 2013, Campania, Italy
Aglianico, Sangiovese and a little Cabernet Sauvignon. A touch of vanilla here, with cherry and plum red fruit. Has a weight of ripe fruit on the palate, rich with great density and concentration, but I prefer the elegance of some other wines here. 86/100.

Grotte Sannite, Barbera Benevento IGP 2013, Campania, Italy
The Barbera here is thought not to be the same grape as in Piedmont, but a variety traditional to the area that is semi aromatic and for early drinking. Tiny winery of around 10,000 bottles. A touch of geranium and very floral, but attractive, very juicy, with smooth and cherry flavour, but nicely composed and has a certain elegance. 86/100.

Masseria Vigne Vecchie, Solopaca Rosso Classico Sannio DOP 2013, Campania, Italy
A blend of old-vine Sangiovese 50%, Aglianico 30% and Montepulciano 20%. Quite delicate, cherry and tobacco finesse, light on the palate but with the tannins coming through to grip. A lovely leanness and alacrity to this, with rounded tannins and acids, and lovely fruit weight and balance – a touch of coffee too. 88/100.

Santimartini, Solopaca Rosso ‘Pietre Sparse’ Sannio DOP 2013, Campania, Italy
Sangiovese, Aglianico, Piedirosso and Sciascinoso from a winery of 50,000 bottles, operating for 10 years. A little softness to the colour. Delightful nose, all tobacco and smoke and fine red fruits, a touch of graphite and classy French oak. The palate has delicious fruit, delicious ripeness and finesse, with rounded, smooth tannins, vivid cherry acidity, but plushness and freshness. 90/100.

Vigna Sannite, Piedirosso Sannio DOP 2012, Campania, Italy
A new cooperative, the 4th of the area, vinifying since 2005, based in Castelvenere. The company is an old Kentucky tobacco producer that switched to wine after the bottom fell out of the tobacco market. Slightly aged colour. A slightly bretty note to this, slightly animal, before a palate of jammy ripe red fruits, with a little harsh tannin. Not hugely harmonious. 82/100.

Anna Bosco, Barbera Arminico Sannio DOP 2012, Campania, Italy
20,000 bottles from a very small winery that was of the first to bottle in Castelvenere. Has a slightly appassimento character, almost a creaminess with a lift of flowers and cherry, but quite a complex and interesting nose. The palate is fairly voluptuous and full, with plenty of ripe fruit and weight, and a much fuller, more substantial take on the Barbera. 88/100.

Cantina Sociale di Solopaca, Rosso Classico Sannio DOP 2012, Campania, Italy
Three million bottles produced. A blend of 50% Sangiovese, 30% Aglianico and 20% Montepulciano. Earthy and bloody touches, some oak character. Deliciously ripe and creamy, with a raft of smooth, vanilla-licked berry fruit, but a bit of steel at its core, with ripeness and richness, but a classic cedary finesse. 90/100.

Fattoria Ciabrelli, Barbera Sannio DOP 2011, Campania, Italy
Still a fairly vivid, crimson primary colour. Again that geranium-like, floral lift of Barbera with lovely dark liquorice and touches of coal. Real creaminess on the palate, a slick of chocolate and vanilla, roughening tannins and plenty of grip. Delicious length. 89/100.

Antica Masseria Venditti di Nicola, Solopaca ‘Bosco Caldia’ Sannio DOP 2007, Campania, Italy
Aglianico, Montepulciano and Piedirosso. Still a very deep and vivid colour. Lots of cedar and graphite, lots of inky dark fruit, a touch of floral perfume, but plenty of oak – perhaps a touch too much? The palate is flooded with ripe, rich fruit: massive concentration, the oak still a touch strident, but impressively sweet, rich, concentrated and long, with spices and chocolate infilling. 90/100.

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