The legend** goes that Bacchus descended one day in disguise upon the slopes of Mount Massico where he met a poor and simple farmer of the surname Falerno. He did not hesitate to offer his unexpected guest the best from his pantry. Moved by the farmer's generosity, 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 blooming vineyards.
The first Falerno del Massico was made with Falanghina and was historically praised by the likes of Pliny, who declared it the best wine of his day. Others such as Virgil, Cicero, and Catullus held the wine in high regard as did the Czar of Russia and Gustav of Sweden.
Text below adapted from: Del Canuto, Francesco et al., Il vino italiano, panorama vitivinicolo attraverso le denominazioni di origine, Associazione Italiana Sommeliers (Bertani & C.), Milano, 2010 (2002), fourth edition.
Recognized as DOC 1/3/89
Production Zone: includes the townships of Carinola, Cellole, Falciano del Massico, Mondragone and Sessa Aurunca, all in the province of Caserta.
Yield: max 10 tons per hectare
Aging Potential: whites 1-2 years, reds 5-6 years
Grape Varieties: WHITE Falanghina, 100%; minimum alcohol 11%
RED Aglianico 60-80%, Piedirosso 20-40%, Primitivo and/or Barbera max 20%, minimum alcohol 12.5, minimum AGING 14 months;
The wine can also have a varietal declaration only for Primitivo. In this case, it must be written on the label and the blend must be a minimum of 85% Primitivo with a maximum of 15% Aglianico, Piedirosso, and/or Barbera, minimum alcohol 13%, minimum AGING 14 months.
Riserva: For Rosso and Primitivo, minimum alcohol 12.5%; must age for 26 months
Vecchio: can be used interchangeably with "Riserva," but only for Primitivo.
In Falerno del Massico, which is close to the dormant Roccamonfina volcano and the solid calcerous terrain of Mount Massico, there is a movement toward softer wines. This is true of the white and red based on Primitivo.
If properly vinified, Falerno del Massico rosso can be soft and structured with a complex aroma. These qualities make it particularly suited for meat dishes and aged cheeses.
Wine made primarily from Primitivo is highly structured as well, but extremely extracted and high in alcohol. This makes the wines perfect pairings for roasted meats, as well as meats prepared with sauces.
The whites are lighter and more acidic and are perfect with pasta and tomatoes, as well as other simple and aromatic dishes.
**Something fun I found whilst poking around the internets. I had to share it.