La Sibilla, Campi Flegrei Falanghina "Cruna de Lago"
La Sibilla, Campi Flegrei Falanghina "Cruna de Lago"

La Sibilla, Campi Flegrei Falanghina "Cruna de Lago"

Campania, Italy 2021 (750mL)
Regular price$42.00

La Sibilla, Campi Flegrei Falanghina "Cruna de Lago"

Forget that the grape in this wine was likely named by Roman scribe Pliny the Elder. Forget that the vineyards are spread across a volcanic caldera and effectively fall within the city limits of Naples. And forget that the winery, La Sibilla, houses its cellar in an ancient Roman water cistern. It used to be that all this romantic imagery and historical significance was all these wines had going for them. But now things are different—dramatically different—and Exhibit A is this explosive Campi Flegrei Falanghina. It isn’t aged in expensive barrels and there aren’t any other winemaking techniques used to “supe” this wine up: It’s all about perfectly ripe, old-vine fruit grown in mineral-rich volcanic sand. If you’re still thinking of Italian whites as simple “quaffing” wines, think again—this will take on some of France’s most beloved mineral whites (we’re looking at you, Chablis) and more than hold its own. This is the new face of Italian white wine, and it must not be missed.

Much of the area known as the Campi Flegrei (“flaming fields”) has been “eminent-domained” by the Italian government for archaeological purposes, but the DiMeo family, who own La Sibilla and have farmed vines and other crops in this area for some 200 years, have managed a carve-out for their vineyards and winery. They live and work near the ancient thermal baths of Baiae, just north of Naples, and, as mentioned above, they’ve appropriated one of the area’s ancient Roman cisterns (part of that civilization’s incredibly sophisticated water-transport network) to use as a cellar. Working organically—which is made easier by the combination of sandy volcanic soils and a dry Mediterranean climate—they focus almost exclusively on the two classic cultivars of this region: The white Falanghina and the red Piedirosso.

Falanghina is one of Italy’s greatest native whites, part of an ancient Campanian trio that also includes Fiano and Greco. It is floral and citrusy but also transmits the profound minerality of Campania’s mostly volcanic soils in a tactile, mouth-watering way. Think Chablis, but sunnier, and you’re most of the way there. With “Cruna del Lago” (“Eye of the Lake,” likely a nod to the many volcanic lakes dotting the area), the DiMeos make a special selection of their best old-vine Falanghina and basically get out of the way: Fermentation and aging is carried out in stainless steel for maximum transparency. This is like mainlining ripe Campanian citrus fruits and sparkly minerals, with a level of structure and length that is way beyond ordinary.

As I taste this wine I think of volcanic “tuff”—soft, porous rock formed from the ash and other fragments from past eruptions—and how its mish-mash of mineral components gives it a crystalline appearance. The bright aromas include citrus fruits, green peach, wildflowers, green herbs, and chalk dust, carrying over to a medium-bodied palate full of tangy fruit and mouth-watering minerality. This is refreshing, energetic white wine designed for near-term drinking with seafood, salads, or, if you really want to treat it right, a Neapolitan-style zuppa di pesce (seafood stew). Seriously, do yourself a favor and get yourself some of this wine. It’s a game-changer!

La Sibilla, Campi Flegrei Falanghina "Cruna de Lago"

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