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The Fiano Grape

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About Fiano

(Synonyms: Apiana, Apiano, Fiana, Fiano di Avellino, Fiore Mendillo, Foiano, Latina Bianca, Latina Bianca di Barletta, Latino, Latino Bianco, Minutola, Minutolo, Santa Sofia)


Fiano grapes Map showing Campania

Fiano is a white-wine grape originating in the Campania region of Italy, and also now much grown in Sicily, and of late even in Australia. The wines are pale in color, and typically strong-flavored with an intense aroma; it is described as being "weighty" on the palate, with a honeyed, floral nose and distinct taste qualities of spice, honey, and frequently a hazelnut overtone.

Better-made specimens are considered thoroughly age-worthy, and to not merely withstand bottle age but improve over several years, with the spice and nut flavors especially becoming better established.

Fiano was traditionally subject to being unduly heavy and especially to being prone to premature oxidation. The winemaking techniques of modern times are said to have largely or wholly overcome those problems, though in candor not all vintners practice such techniques yet. The grape is inherently low-yielding, and that combined with the older difficulties of vinification saw its plantings decrease markedly in the last couple of centuries; but it is now again on the upswing, as a result of the better winemaking and consequent worldwide interest in Fiano.

By repute, the best specimens come from the province of Avellino, and are known as "Fiano di Avelino". True Fiano di Avellino must be at least 85% Fiano (with Greco, Coda di Volpe, and Trebbiano also permitted up to a combined total maximum of 15%), and is often 100% monovarietal.

Fiano is generally considered one of the dozen and a half or so of world-class white-wine grapes (those in boldface in the varietals list to the left of the page).

Factoid: Fiano has a lineage extending back at least to Roman times; it is likely the Roman Apianum wine, the name deriving from the bees that to this day are commonly attracted to the sweet grape pulp.

Some Descriptions of Fiano Wines

  • Wikipedia

    "According to Jancis Robinson, Fiano can produce an ageworthy wine that has to potential to develop in the bottle for several years after the vintage date. In its youth Fiano is often intensely flavored and aromatic with honey notes that over time develop more spicy and nutty notes. . . In the opinion of wine expert Oz Clarke, well made examples of Fiano from favorable vintages should have a fair amount of weight on the palate with a floral aroma and notes of honey and spice with the potential to continue improving with bottle age. The Italian wine Fiano di Avellino is often characterized as a pale straw colored wine with strong aromas of spice and floral notes. On the palate, those aroma notes are often present along with honey and nutty hazelnut notes."

  • Napoli Unplugged

    "Fiano di Avellino is a dry white wine (I mention this because Fiano can be found produced as semi-sweet or sweet wine), medium-bodied and typically the color of summer straw with a persistent nose and rich palate. The wine’s flavor / aromatic profile can be complex: pears, white peaches, tropical fruit, hazelnuts, white flowers, herbs and honey can often appear as can highlights of oranges, smoke, or sea salt that seem to glide above delicious minerality and acidity. Generally speaking, Fiano di Avellino is a wine best drunk young, say, 5 years from vintage, although when from great producers in great vintages, Fiano di Avellino can age well to 10 years or so."

  • Snooth

    "Fiano has a naturally high sugar content (hence the bee attraction) and there is a sweet sparkling wine produced locally that unfortunately isn't destined for outside marketing. But the dry table wine version is what earned its DOCG in 2003. It's known for its flavors of lychee, quince and peach, with hints of orange blossom, spice and balanced acidity. Some styles have a pleasant underlying note of hazelnuts."

  • VinoDiversity

    "De Long's Wine Grape Varietal Table lists the variety as having the potential to produce light weight wines of moderate to high acidity. The flavour profile is described as 'Nutty, herbal, aromatic, with smoky spicy notes and hazelnuts'. In her latest book Vine Grapes Jancis Robinson describes the variety as "Rich waxy, strongly flavoured fashionable." What I like about the vareity is its freshness and light body. It is a suitable alternative to Sauvignon blanc.

  • Wine Searcher

    "Used both in blends and to produce varietal wine, Fiano is favored for its strong flavors and waxy texture. It can add body weight and roundness to a white wine blend, and impart floral and honeyed notes, often with spicy accents."

  • Cal-Italia

    "Richly flavored, medium-bodied white. . . Light, straw-yellow color with appealing aromas and flavors of ripe pears, honey and toasted hazelnuts. At its best after a year or two in the bottle, Fiano will age up to five."

  • Berry Brothers & Rudd

    "The grape is low yielding and early ripening and produces crisp, well-balanced wines, often with hints of honey and nuts. Previously Fiano-based wine were often prone to oxidation - however with the advent of modern winemaking techniques the wines are now renowned for their freshness and the best examples can benefit from 2-3 years of bottle ageing."

  • Vino Italiano

    "The Fiano grape variety is a fairly strong flavoured wine grape native to the south of Italy, particularly in around Avellino in the Campania region, where Fiano di Avellino is a DOCG, and in Sicily it has been cultivated for more than two thousand years. Fiano di Avellino DOCG is a wine of great elegance and refinement with an intense odor and a harmonious flavor that features scents of toasted hazelnuts. Perfect as an aperitif, the wine also makes a fine accompaniment for refined dishes based on seafood."

  • Wine Making Talk

    "Wine made from Fiano grapes has a distinct nutty taste, with hints of herbs, honey and spice. If aged, it can develop more flower aroma and smoky flavors."

Some Fianos to Try

(About this list.)

Considering their considerable reputation, decent Fiano wines can be had starting from remarkably low prices. In this list, we include two wines from some wineries: their basic, or "entry-level" Fiano, and (where pricing allowed) a somewhat more elevated rendition as well.

The quotations below are excerpts; we strenuously urge you to click on the green diamond symbol by each quoted review to see the full article.
  • Mastroberardino Fiano di Avellino, $15 - $24. (Mastroberardino also makes a "Radici" bottling, also in this list, plus an expensive "More Maiorum" Fiano.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    The color is now [2006 vintage in 2011] gold bright yellow. The nose is evolved in notes of dry fruits, dry banana, mango and pineapple, ripe golden apple, dry herbs and more marked salty sensations. The sip is long, smooth, creamy, with a better balance and a very pleasant minerality.

    Pale brassy green with greenish brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is pleasant, with delicate floral accents, in particular honeysuckle, mingled with hints of honeydew melon and slight sweetness. Inviting. On the palate it's ample, fairly bright, and quite mineral with some interwoven honeydew melon that gives way to minerality in the finish, which is fairly long, with some bitter hazelnut accents. A classic Fiano that revolves more around aromatics and finesse than structure, and will be quite nice as an aperitif or with delicate fish, and will also nicely complement either cheese or Oriental dishes. . . [It] combines harmony and balance. 88-90

    Let this wine warm and you will see what a few degrees can do. Aromas of honeysuckle, peach and pear, with a long, lingering blend of spice and nuts on the finish. Still a touch closed, best drunk after being open for a few hours. Serve at 8-12 C. [46°F - 54°F

    Fiano di Avellino displays a pronounced smokiness, along with notes of hazelnut, citrus and apple. The 2012 Mastroberardino Fiano di Avellino is an excellent example.

    Straw gold color, with an aromatic, complex bouquet and distinctive flavor. Full-bodied and elegant with pear, pineapple, citrus, nut and honey flavors and a lingering toasted hazelnut complexity.

    Mastroberardino's 2008 Fiano di Avellino has attractive aromas of pears and citrus fruits along with a hint of hazelnuts. It is a rich, opulent, full-bodied white but with better acidity and complexity than one would expect from such a generous wine.

  • Feudi di San Gregorio Fiano di Avellino, $10 - $26. (Feudi di San Gregorio also makes a "Campanaro" bottling, also in this list, plus an expensive "Pietracalda" Fiano.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    Feudi di San Gregorio consistently does a terrific job with the Fiano grape. The producer finds a magical way of extracting the grape's pear, citrus and peach aromas. Mineral and talc powder sensations are there as well. Score: 89

    Moderate aromatics of spritzy lemon, fresh cut grass, smoke and green almond lead to a crisp acidity supporting layers of pink grapefruit, honeysuckle and a sharp, bone-dry finish laden with minerality.

    This deliciously dry and refreshing wine certainly added a little zippiness to the day with its vivacious character. Although a little shy at first, it soon blossomed from bud to flower. Subtle floral and mineral aromas flattered the nose with a hint of honey, chamomile and citrus fruit, followed by a rich textured mouthful of ripe pear and peach flavours, supported by a lively acidity. The finish with its mineral edge and nuances of quince and hazelnuts, played encore after encore and left the taste buds in no doubt that they were in heaven! Sublime on its own, but I can only imagine how it would shine like a sparkling diamond alongside rich seafood, poultry, soft cheese or pasta with a creamy sauce. This was a stunning and elegant expression of Fiano di Avellino at its best from a benchmark Italian winery. Bravo and encore!

    A superb lightly dry white wine. Goes well with seafood and, er, summer. Quality: 5/6; Value for money: 4/6.

    On the nose I had herbs, (yellow) flowers and peach. The label also said that the wine should have aromas of orange but I didn't notice them. The finish was long. Almost no acidity and a taste of minerals was present. At the Roman enoteca I spent 13.50€ for this wine. I don't regret the purchase and will buy it again when the opportunity arises.

    The 2008 Feudi di San Gregorio Fiano di Avellino is a full-bodied white whose weight and richness might lead you to think that it has spent time in wood, despite its lack of oaky flavor. In fact, the wine is made entirely in stainless steel; it is the grapes and not the winemaking that give the wine its considerable character. The wine's aroma is fresh and penetrating, with notes of ripe citrus, apple and peach, as well as floral and definite mineral notes. The wine is bone dry and crisp but has lots of weight; silky texture; and a broad note of minerality that balances the depth created by the high acidity. Nutty, fruity and honeyed flavors have good concentration in your mouth. . . This wine is a marvel on the table because of the yin-yang nature of its acidity and richness.

    Rich dried white peach, apple and honey blossom flowers, this wine is full and lush in the mouth with herbal and mineral notes offsetting the full fruit. That mouthfeel, in addition to the lively freshness of this wine is impressive. Weight to match poultry (or goose, or duck), acidity to freshen the palate with numerous flavours. A boon is the candied orange peel note on the finish – a perfect complement to cranberries and savoury dressing. ***½

  • Feudi di San Gregorio "Campanaro", $16 - $40. (This is not their entry-level Fiano, which is listed above; also, this is cut with a bit of Greco di Tufo.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    Campanaro is one of the best white wines from southern Italy and offers a fail-proof guarantee for pairings with all fish and white meat dishes. The wine is smooth and creamy with pretty mineral tones and ripe notes of vibrant fruit and yellow rose. 90 points

    Has a nice mix of waxy, rich fruit and a more delicate, tart underbelly. A couple of us commented that tasted in a black glass, this would have been mistaken for a Rose. The fruit profile was decidedly red...strawberries to be exact. This had nice balance at the end of the day and many people were quite fond of it. (91 pts.)

    Deep yellow with a touch of gold. Aromas of green tea, chamomile and Macintosh apple. Medium-full with very good concentration. Nice texture on the mid-palate and a lengthy finish with lively acidity and very good fruit persistence. Enjoy over the next 3-5 years. ****

    [F]for me it is their 2002 Campanaro, a late harvest Fiano, that remains their finest wine. This has lovely texture and the honey, quince and pear flavors are beautiful.

    The wine exhibited a bright golden color and aromas of pear and citrus on the nose. On the palate, it was fresh and dry, leaving a crisp mineral finish.

    [S]plendid . . . redolent of honey and mangoes.

    [R]esembles a full-bodied, barrel-fermented Chardonnay.

    Dry, refreshing white wine. Excellent balance of pure fruit with finishing touch of mint and spices.

    (Click on the diamond for many more review links for this wine.)

  • Terredora di Paulo Fiano di Avellino Terre di Dora, $17 - $33. (Terredora also makes a rather more expensive "Campore" Fiano, not listed here.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    To me the Fiano I encountered in the bottle, just last week was very "tom-boyish" it definitely has a feminine side to it, but with plenty of, in your face, "these boots are made for walking" attitude. Now that's my kind of wine, in a cage match this wine would pummel chardonnay like a bad habit, frankly it wouldn't be much of a contest. It would give everyone with the Chardonnay Conundrum, a new champion to fill their glasses, with wines that have a soul, especially in contrast to California Chardonnay. And believe me, having just judged 30 different Chardonnays and over 30 different Viogniers [SDIWC], all nearly monolithic wines; folks it's time for the wines of Campania to find a place in your own cellar.

    Perhaps the creme de la creme of [Terradora's] white wines, this 100% Fiano has a graceful nose of white floral and honeysuckle that draws you in like a great perfume. Richer in the mouth, aided by partial barrel fermentation, the flavors of pear, apricot, lemon are complex with notes of toasted nuts and clover honey in the mix. Rich and intense, it can stand up to antipasto as well as elaborately sauced fish and chicken dishes.

    [This wine] is as elegant and as pure in its varietal character as you will find. The wine is simply delicious and is a nice middle ground between the Mastroberardino style and the Feudi [San Gregorio] style.

    2010 Fiano Di Avellino, Terre Dora; a D.O.C.G. wine: 100% Fiano cool fermented and aged on its lees for a highly aromatic, dry white wine with a bit of spice finished with honey. This white can be aged 10-15 years. The favorite of many in our group.

    [The winemaker at Terredora] told me, "We will always be the benchmark for Fiano." The indigenous jewel of Campania whites, Fiano can age in a cellar for up to 15 years, and many experienced tasters have said that an aged Fiano tasted blind is really like fine white Burgundy (at a fraction of the cost). The 2009 is firmly structured and exceptionally elegant. Less giving than the Greco, it walks a limestone bridge linking floral and fruity.

    Terre di Dora is one of Terredora's own vineyards. Dry and crisp, with fresh fruity aromas suggestive of pineapple. It has great length on the palate, with a rich finish. Excellent Fiano. 92

    The Fiano di Avellino (made from Fiano grapes) had a bright and fragrant nose of apricot, blood orange, rich minerality and a noted saltiness, with a complex and mineraly mouth. It was elegant and structured on the palate without being weighty. A very interesting wine.

    Green fruit aromas on the nose, apple and pear and some honeysuckle. The palate is waxy, medium to full bodied with subtle nuances of roasted nuts. 86 points Rating: ****

  • Mastroberardino "Radici" Fiano, $17 - $27. (This is Mastroberardino's mid-level Fiano, also spelt "Radichi".)

    Some quotations and facts:

    A beautiful white wine that shows so much territorial personality. You can taste the drying mineral tones gained from the volcanic soils and the ripe fruit and pear aromas from sunny climatic conditions. 90 points

    The color is straw yellow with young green reflections. The nose is fresh with notes of citrus fruits, like lime and citron, and sweeter fruits like banana, melon and tropical fruits. There are also notes of aromatic herbs, like fresh rosemary and oregano and salty feelings. The taste is fresh, smooth, wide, with a long mineral finish.

    This is from a vineyard at Santo Stefano del Sale, at an elevation of 600 meters; the soils are deep, loosely packed (which makes fall rains less of a problem), and have a moderate clay content, while the thermal excursions are quite intense, 15 C in September. The grapes ripen slowly, and are harvested two weeks later than most Fiano. Brilliant brassy green with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is powerful and elegant, with floral notes mingled with some bitter almond, some vegetal accents, and slight sweetness. On the palate it's rich, with honeydew melon fruit on the attack supported by mineral acidity that has some honeydew melon coolness and slight bitter lemony warmth that gives way to almond blossom bitterness as well, and continues into a bitter hazelnut mineral finish. Quite elegant, with a great deal of finesse, and also has nice aging potential. 90-92

    Mastroberardino makes a standard Fiano, but its Radichi comes from a selection of grapes in its best vineyards. It is dry, with wonderful aromas of white flowers, mint, and eucalyptus, great concentration of flavors and substantial acidity. Very sleek, with good aging potential. 92

    I must confess somewhat of an addiction to the Fiano grape from all vineyards especially when pairing with foods. But, for price point, phenomenal flavors including some tropical or North African hints, the stunner is the 2007 Fiano di Avellino from the master producer Masterberardino (with some of the best land in This one holds its own with rustic pork, seafood, all sorts of poultry.

    Mastroberardino is known for a classic style with these wines, with pretty fruit and crisp acidity with a light touch of minerality. . . [The] Fiano di Avellino "Radici" [is] quite rich and complex, offering great subtlety and finesse. [It is] immediately appealing but also displays greater complexities with 3-5 years in the bottle.

    [H]erbaceous . . . and herby, very slightly honeyed, good texture.

    [It] was packed with white flower and nutty flavors, with a very dry finish.

    This is a single-vineyard wine. It's brassy gold with brassy greenish reflections, and has a rich bouquet with floral accents and hints of honeysuckle and spice. Quite nice. On the palate it's ample and languid, with pleasing richness and fruit, honeydew melon with loquat supported by clean acidity that flows into a clean bright finish with loquat acidity and some savory accents. Quite nice in (again) a rather voluptuous key.

  • Guido Marsella Fiano, $19 - $28.

    Some quotations and facts:

    This is one of the wines with the most personality not only in Campania but the entire Italian boot. The color is an intense and luminous golden-yellow while the aroma is amazing for how articulated it is. The bouquet has some floral glimmers but is for the most part white fruit, peanut and almond. The mouthfeel is cutting in a rich structure, the length marvelous. It is unmatched, unlike any other, just a Marsella and that's it. 91+

    Smoke, tar, ash, incense, game and white peaches are some of the many notes that emerge from the 2010 Fiano di Avellino. This deep, rich Fiano has a level of aromatic and flavor complexity that is unusual for a white wine and more inline with a red, unusual as that might sound. Layers of fruit built to an effortless, lush finish. Marsella's Fiano is exotic and far from easygoing. I find it compelling.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (February 2013), 92

    Guido Marsella believes in letting wine mature in its natural character so that once bottled, it can live well over 10 years on the shelf. But if you’re impatiently waiting with oysters on the half shell, open it now. You might notice apricot, peach, with a bitter almond finish. (note: I also noticed a rocky ash quality – apparently the vines grow in the shadow of Vesuvius).

    The wine was delicious. . . The wine was so deep and rich, such intense aromas and flavors of smoke, honey, lentil-type legumes (reminded me of Assyrtiko, actually), and sea salt. One friend said that he was getting bacon on the nose!

    Le Sirenuse's head sommelier swirls a glass of straw-coloured Fiano d’Avellino made by niche Campanian winemaker Guido Marsella, takes a sniff, and can’t help smiling, so pleasurable is the aroma of pear, citrus fruits, almonds and other scents of the south that stir childhood memories and excite the taste buds.

    The first to present Fiano in steel (Mastroberardino had already done so with More Maiorum) after a year was Guido Marsella. It was revolutionary but the facts supported him, and now that he has been joined by a goodly number of other winemakers, he intends to prolong the wait to two years. His 2011 is in any case fabulous and rich, with beautiful fumé and underbrush accents that promise a complex evolution.

  • Colli di Lapio, Clelia Romano Fiano, $19 - $32.
         ($22.74 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    Bright, pale straw-green. Strikingly complex aromas of green apple, Meyer lemon, mint and herbs, plus a hint of flinty minerals. Deeply concentrated, but with extremely high, integrated acidity giving the stony citrus and orchard fruit flavors excellent cut and clarity. Notes of anise, herbs and minerals repeat on the extremely long finish, which features excellent grip and precision. This will age beautifully for another decade, and I wouldn't open a bottle for another three or four years.

    Simply put, the 2011 Fiano di Avellino is one of the greatest Italian whites in its price category. Smoke, ash, incense and white stone fruits are all woven together in a fabric of extreme class, elegance and polish. Bright, saline notes reappear on the impeccably polished finish. An utterly vivid, beautiful wine, the 2011 captures the essence and greatness of Fiano di Avellino. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2015.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (date unknown), 92 Points

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (date unknown), 92 points

    ♣ Gambero Rosso ["Tre Bichere" awards] (2012), "White wine of the Year".

    [T]this young estate, founded in 1994, is the source of one of the finest Fianos made today, if not the best one. The perfectly situated vineyards, at about 500 meters above sea level on highly calcareous clay soil and benefiting from wide day-night temperature differences, would rate grand cru status if such a classification scheme existed in Italy.

    By chance, my very first Fiano di Avellino was a rarity: a Colli di Lapio with 10 years of bottle age. It was at a dinner in New York, and the host was a wine collector. I don’t remember the vintage, but I'll never forget that fiano: Unlike most aged whites, it was daisy yellow in color. No amber tones here, no whiff of oxidation. Aromas of fresh peach and melon emanated from the glass. The first sip suggested pineapple and apricot nectar. Next was lemon curd and jasmine, then toasted hazelnuts on the finish. A full-bodied, creamy wine balanced by high acidity, it had me smitten. I couldn’t stop sipping, trying to grasp its evolving flavors. That night—then again this spring, when I found a dusty, decade-old Colli di Lapio in our cellar—I discovered what discerning collectors know: Fiano di Avellino is a white that can age

    Straw yellow in color, the 2003 has accents of citrus and anise, and a scent of white peaches and tangerine pith. This Fiano's bright snap of acidity makes it a brilliant match with chilled shellfish, grilled shrimp and other summer seafood.

For a Splurge

Possibly, judging from reports, the premier Fiano is Mastroberardino's "More Maiorum", but it is simply not available. A plausible "splurge" alternative might be Terredora di Paulo's "Campore". For those who care about such things, Parker gives it from 92 to 94 points (various vintages).

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