This week we will again be looking at another great white grape variety from Campania – Fiano bianco. This is a very antique variety that existed during Roman times and is said to come from the area around Avellino. I have never had the good fortune to visit Avellino but have an old friend who hails from that city. He was quite the “cavaliere” (a man who is chivalrous) in the best sense of the term and that image of certain people and grape varieties remains in my mind.
Fiano grows best in volcanic soils. It produces wines with distinct minerality, good acidity and aromas and flavors of fruit, flowers and nuts. While it is usually vinified into dry wine, it can also be used in the production of late harvest or sweet wines. It grows in both Campania and Puglia.
This white grape variety is often blended with other indigenous varieties such as Greco, Trebbiano and Coda di Volpe in the denominazione d’origine controllata (D.O.C.) wines. It is also often made into a mono varietal wine, Fiano d’Avellino became a denominazione d’origine controllata e garantita (D.O.C.G.) in 2003.
Wonderful examples of Fiano are available in the United States including those of Mastroberardino, a 10th generation winery with its headquarters located in Irpinia. Fiano from Feudi di San Gregorio, is another widely distributed wine in the U.S. A third very well-know winery that makes a great Fiano that is available in the U.S. is Terredora.
Fiano is a great wine for the summer, fall and spring. I also like it in winter if I am having something to eat which calls for a full-bodied wine. Insomma, a very versatile wine. If you don’t know the grape, you should make a point of getting familiar with this very ancient variety.