Are You On A Amalfi Coast Vacation? Here Are The Wines You Should Be Ordering!
It’s hard not to love the Amalfi Coast. With its dazzling Mediterranean blue waters and colorful cascading villas lining its magnificent cliffsides, you fall in love at first sight. As you plan your trip to this magical, sunny destination, you should also keep in mind how you will stay hydrated - with the area’s impressive wines.
From fresh white wines to complex reds, the Amalfi Coast and its home region of Campania is home to a wealth of wine (and food) to explore. Fortunately, you’ll know just what to order on your la dolce vita vacation with this guide to Amalfi Coast wines.
The White Wines
A gorgeous Italian coastal destination must have great white wines, right? Of course, what else would you want to imbibe when feasting on the fresh seafood? With incredible altitudes and terraced vineyards exposed to fresh sea air, the Amalfi Coast boasts a variety of white wine grapes with histories older than the Romans themselves.
Enjoying lazy beach days on the Amalfi Coast is always better with a glass of Falanghina in hand. You’ll find this wine often on menus of beach bars and restaurants alike, as it truly is the perfect wine for a gorgeous sunny day, and has been for centuries.
The story goes that the Greeks brought this grape over when they arrived in the modern-day region of Campania almost 3000 years ago. One of their very first settlements was Campi Flegrei, an area just east of Napoli. It's here that Falanghina became an Italian grape varietal.
Yet, Falanghina has an even more regal history. Many believe that Falanghina derives from the word ‘Falernum,’ ancient Rome's most prized wine grown just outside of Napoli. Another interpretation of the origin of the word Falanghina is from "falangae", which refers to sticks in vineyard that support the bush vine that looked like a phalanx - a Roman formation of soldiers.
When visiting the Amalfi Coast, you will find lots of Falanghina Campi Flegrei. This is not just due to the region’s proximity, but also the character of the wine. It’s fresh, mineral, and sometimes flinty, evocative of its rich volcanic soils. Its aromas range from floral to citrus to even a lingering essence of Mediterranean herbs. Falanghina Campi Flegrei is a natural pairing for seafood, and it makes a great photo with its gorgeous straw-yellow color in the glass.
Falanghina does grow in other areas of Campania too. There’s Falanghina del Sannio, produced just north of the Amalfi Coast in the province of Benevento. These wines taste more full bodied in the mouth, with more fruity aromas.
Hailing from the mystical island of Ischia, Biancolella is a wonderful varietal producing easy-going, yet spell-binding white wines.
Biancolella truly stands out on its own. Growing on steep slopes, graced with consistent sea breezes, it receives the royal treatment in terms of developing brilliant acidity. Biancolella is lively in the glass, with a salty freshness that’s quite irresistible. It has aromas of citrus and Mediterranean earth, with an often nutty finish. Similarl to Falanghina, it’s best enjoyed young.
While Biancolella’s home is Ischia, its wines can be found also on the Amalfi Coast. The Costa D’Amalfi DOC Bianco offers blends of mostly Biancolella and Falanghina, along with other indigenous varietals for a simply refreshing white wine. Or, if you’re hoping to try Biancolella in its purity, opt for the Ischia Biancolella DOC to experience the character of this exquisite varietal.
A true gem of the Amalfi Coast, Fiano is a wine with an ultra-unique personality.
Adored by the Romans, Fiano has reigned in the region of Campania for thousands of years. Most likely the vitis apiana Pliny the Elder adored, Fiano was a charmer of both the bees (apiana rooted in the Latin word apis meaning bees) and the most passionate wine lovers of Roman times.
The resurgence of Fiano in the 20th century was a blessing, as this grape produces entrancing white wines. It has a medium body with a mildly waxy character. In the glass, it can evoke herbal and orchard fruit aromas, with oftentimes a slight note of hazelnut. Altogether, it is pretty mesmerizing - no wonder it is one of Italy’s leading white wines today.
But, we can’t talk about Fiano without mentioning Fiano di Avellino. This DOCG wine expresses the terroir of a specific production zone, in the province of Avellino, just north of the Amalfi Coast. Avellino is a hillside town where it frequently snows as a result of the altitude. As a result, wines made from Fiano are graced with finesse and age-ability.
One producer that stands out is Ciro Picariello, who focuses primarily on Fiano (and a little Greco di Tufo and Aglianico). His detailed attention to Fiano is abundantly clear - his wines are elegant and alive, especially his single vineyard ‘906,’ which is highly expressive of Avellino’s mineral-rich terroir.
Greco di Tufo
The Amalfi Coast is home to rounder, more full bodied white wines too. Say hello to Greco di Tufo, a wine with a history as rich as its body.
As you might guess from its name, Greco di Tufo also dates back to Greek times (Greco means Greek in Italian.) Just like many other indigenous varietals, it made its way over to Campania with the Greeks thousands of years ago.
The grape found its home in Tufo, a town in Avellino known for its distinct volcanic soil called tuff. This unique soil lends a mineral character that compliments the wine’s full body. Greco di Tufo wines are quite the opposite of - let’s say - Falanghina. Rather than simply refreshing, Greco di Tufo is bold and complex. It has high alcohol, acidity, and body, offering a lot in just one sip. Its flavors are honey and pear driven with often an unmistakably salty note. Many Greco di Tufo wines are aged in oak barrels and undergo malolactic fermentation, which makes them more buttery in the mouth.
That said, Greco can stand up with more rich dishes, like a perfect quattro formaggi Neapolitan pizza or seafood risotto.
The Red Wines
The Amalfi Coast is blessed with the best of both worlds - great white wines and red wines. The coast’s proximity to some of the most esteemed vineyards in southern Italy makes it a hot destination to sip on excellent Italian red wines.
An all-star red wine, Aglianico has debuted as one of the leading Italian wines. It's another gift of the Greeks (Aglianico deriving from ellenico, or Hellenic in Greek.) Sipping on it will show just why.
As you dine on the Amalfi Coast, you will most likely notice two kinds of Aglianico on wine lists or in wine shops - Taurasi and Aglianico del Taburno. Both DOCG wines offer something special to savor.
Starting with Taurasi, this Aglianico is very finessed. Grown in high altitudes in the beautiful land of Irpinia - just northwest of the Amalfi Coast - Taurasi evokes softness, but with impressive structure. Its concentrated flavors of cherry, flowers and even herbs make it a stunner, only improving with age.
Then, there’s Aglianico del Taburno. This wine is for those who love reds with a little more body. Taburno has a rich fruit and often tobacco spice aromas, not to mention its gorgeous ruby color in the glass.
When it comes to food pairings, Aglianico offers an opportunity to explore the regional foods of the Amalfi Coast’s countryside. This wine goes flawlessly with braised rabbit, grilled meat, and hearty local greens, like friarelli (bitter greens sauteed in garlic and olive oil)
Locals call this grape Per’ e Palummo, a nod to the grape’s reddish stems that look almost like a pigeon foot (palummo in local dialect means pigeon or dove!)
The wine - fortunately - has nothing to do with its name. Piedirosso is a uniquely indigenous varietal from outside of Napoli, just an hour away from the Amalfi Coast. It’s commonly grown in Campi Flegrei, the same area where you also find Falanghina. There, Piedirosso is behind the Campi Flegrei Rosso DOC wine, although you can find Piedirosso offered outside this DOC as well. Wines from this region are often blended with other varieties including Aglianico.
So, how does Piedirosso taste? This wine brings its character to the table. While it varies per producer, Piedirosso typically has pronounced red fruit and floral aromas with a distinct earthiness. Sometimes, it has a little bit of an enticing spice-driven finish.
This rare grape from Campania deserves a little spotlight. It is the main grape of Tramonti, a small zone in the Amalfi Coast producing the popular Costa D’Amalfi DOC wine. There, local farmers kept this grape in existence - despite its difficulty to grow - as it is a core part of their cultural history.
Tintore’s name tells us a ton about its character. It comes from the root word tint, referring to the grape's deep color that easily stains. So, it’s safe to say that wearing white is not the best option while sipping on Tintore.
Flavor-wise, Tintore is very berry driven, with structured tannins. It's still a rather rustic wine, as its production is still small and still evolving. Only the future can tell what Tintore may evolve into.
Amalfi Coast Wine List? Check!
All packed for your exhilarating trip to the Amalfi Coast? Don’t forget this little guide to all the wines you must know on your travels. Wine is undoubtedly the perfect accessory for any adventure, whether on a boat, in a restaurant, or by the beach.
Wines to Try:
Vadiapreti Falanghina Beneventano IGT
Ciro Picariello Fiano di Avellino DOCG
Cenatiempo Ischia DOC
2014 Tommasone Per e Palummo Ischia Rosso
2019 Elena Fucci 'Titolo' Aglianico del Vulture Basilicata
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