Campania's great wines: Fiano di Avelllino
Some of Southern Italy’s most interesting white wines come from the Campania region. One of my favorite whites is Fiano di Avellino, a DOCG wine made from the Fiano grape.
In Naples it is a top choice to go with many local dishes, especially seafood. One classic combination to try is Fiano di Avellino and Mussels with Black Pepper. Though the Fiano variety is grown in other parts of Southern Italy, the best wine is produced in the province of Avellino thanks to the mild microclimate and mineral rich volcanic and calcareous soil.
Fiano di Avellino DOCG must be made from at least 85% Fiano with up to 15% of Greco, Coda di Volpe and Trebbiano grapes. The wine has floral notes and hints of honey, pear and toasted hazelnuts with a touch of smoke. It can age for 20 years or more. The Fiano grape was first cultivated in Southern Italy and Sicily during the era when it was colonized by the Ancient Greeks and known in Latin as Magna Graecia (Greater Greece).
The Greeks called it Enotria, the land of wine. Later, many ancient Romans, who built resort homes along the Campanian coast, cultivated Fiano. With it they produced Apianum, a wine that was highly prized, and may have been the ancestor of today’s Fiano.
The name was derived from the Latin word for bees because the sweet aroma of the grapes attracted bees. Pliny the Elder (d.79AD) in his Naturalis Historia stated, “the bees give Fiano its name because of their desire (for it).” More recently Fiano had almost become extinct until producers such as Mastroberardino, began to take in interest in the variety.
This created a renaissance of planting around Avellino and the wine was finally given DOCG status in 2003. Serve Fiano lightly chilled.
Find it in NYC Baccus Wines 1375 First Avenue, (212) 288-0100 Astor Wines and Spirits 399 Lafayette Street, (212) 674-7500.