The 7 best Biancolella wines from Lazio and Campania chosen by Gambero Rosso

May 3 2024, 13:43
Biancolella is a white grape variety mainly grown on the island of Ischia, but also on Procida, Capri, and Ponza. Here are the labels that stood out during our tastings

Biancolella, a white grape variety likely introduced to Campania from Corsica, has been cultivated since ancient times in Ischia, as well as in Procida, Capri, and Ponza, islands that were once part of the Kingdom of the Bourbons, who brought the vine from Ischia to the Amalfi and Sorrento coasts. The vine, sometimes also indicated by the synonyms Jancolella and Janculella, seems to offer the most interesting results in warm and windy climates, especially when its roots can sink into a volcanic soil, as is the case of Ischia, a product of numerous volcanic eruptions that have occurred on the sea floor since ancient times.

Ischia's island

The volcanic activity then continued over the millennia, until the last eruption in 1302. This volcanic nature is faithfully reflected in the wines: mineral, savory, and strongly linked to the territory. The temperature fluctuations to which the vineyards are subjected, cultivated up to 500 meters above sea level, help develop the aromatic profile. Biancolella berries have a straw-green color and thin skin covered with abundant bloom. The resulting wine has a straw-yellow color, fruity and Mediterranean aroma, and a flavor in which pleasant notes of citrus, yellow-fleshed fruit, almond, and delicate spicy nuances blend harmoniously. All supported by good freshness and a vein of mineral savoriness. Biancolella pairs very well with seafood cuisine: excellent with first courses based on fish or clams, it is also perfect with seafood, shellfish, anchovies, and even with some important fish. It finds an interesting territorial pairing with mozzarella.

The best Biancolella

Here are the best Biancolella wines according to Gambero Rosso, which this year have obtained Tre Bicchieri, Due Bicchieri Rossi, or Due Bicchieri in the Gambero Rosso 2024 Wine Guide.

The Biancolella di Ponza from Antiche Cantine Migliaccio confirms its great qualities also in the 2022 vintage: on the nose, notes of Mediterranean scrub, white peach, citrus, while the palate is crisp, full, and with a enveloping length, thanks to the savoriness that prolongs the sip. Also of excellent workmanship is the Fieno Bianco 2022 (80% biancolella, 20% forastera) with tones of apricot, peach, and yellow flowers, for a fresh and gritty palate. An "heroic" reality, which for over twenty years has brought the wine production of the island of Ponza to the fore, betting on native varieties: biancolella, forastera, guarnaccia, aglianico, and piedirosso. It is the saltiness that characterizes the three hectares of vineyards on the terraces of the island, giving rise to gritty, fresh wines with strong personality. Goal achieved for Emanuele Vittorio, grandson of Benedetto, heir of Punta Fieno, the location that in 1734 King Charles of Bourbon had assigned "in perpetual emphyteusis" to the Migliaccio family.

The Selva delle Monache by Ettore Sammarco (70% biancolella, 30% falanghina) is the usual Mediterranean white of breed. Wide and fragrant in tones of lemon leaf and citrus, white peach and lime flowers, fresh aromatic herbs, it flaunts a sweet palate of fruit, salty, long, and tapered in the long and elegant finish. The best-known of the wineries in Ravello bears the name of its founder, Ettore Sammarco, who in 1962 decided to create his own brand to transform and market the raw materials of the vineyard in the Castiglione area. Today the company can also rely on a trusted group of suppliers: Bartolo, Ettore's son, is responsible for enhancing this heritage by creating Mediterranean-style wines that come exclusively from native grapes.

The Faro della Guardia 2022 by Casale del Giglio convinces with its typicality, with notes of apricot and Mediterranean scrub. Founded in 1967 with Dino Santarelli, Casale del Giglio began its revolution 18 years later with his son Antonio, who understood the viticultural potential of the Agro Pontino, making it over time a point of reference for the territory. Today there are 180 hectares of company vineyards, where both international grape varieties, which have perfectly adapted to the Pontine terroir, and native grape varieties such as bellone (cultivated in the open near Anzio) and biancolella (on the island of Ponza) have been planted, for an overall production always of high quality.

The Biancolella 2022 by La Pietra di Tommasone presents itself with shades of Mediterranean scrub and cereals for a clean, smooth, and simple palate, while the Tenuta dei Preti is a Biancolella that smells of exotic fruits, very fragrant.

The Tenuta Frassitelli 2022 is a Biancolella that smells of Mediterranean herbs and yellow fruits. In the mouth, the herbal background it possesses is very interesting. Melon and white-fleshed fruit in the Leninfe, sugary and voluptuous.

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