Fiano is a white grape that originates in the southern Italian region of Campania, around the city of Naples. It was first mentioned in the 13th century in a property register on a purchase made by Emperor Frederic II. The wines produced from this grape are fuller bodied with notes of tropical fruits, tree fruits, and white flowers. Fiano is very site specific though. When grown in volcanic soil, they exhibit more minerality versus when grown in sandy soils, where they have touches of hazelnut. Campania is the perfect place to find volcanic soils as Mt Vesuvius is located here. Wines made from Fiano are some of the highest quality white wines from Italy. The best being those from Fiano di Avellino DOCG. DOCG means Denominazione di Origine Controllata Garantita, indicating the wine is made from grapes grown in the best vineyards in Italy. In order to be able to label a wine as DOCG, it must also be made from specified grape varieties using particular production methods as determined by Italian wine law, bottled within the boundaries of the geographical area, and is subject to tasting by the governing body. There are also DOC wines made from Fiano. These wines have more relaxed specifications and are grown in larger regions. Regardless of if the wine is DOCG or DOC, it will still be great quality.
Fiano almost became extinct in the 20th century because it produces very small yields and can be difficult to grow. In the 1970’s, Antonio Mastroberardino worked to save Fiano, as well as other indigenous Italian grape varieties. Presently, there are about 1400 hectares (about 3500 acres) in all of Italy, spread mostly over Campania, Puglia and Sicily. A vast majority of wines made from Fiano are single varietal. Blends are possible but not terribly common.
I chose a 2018 bottle of Kratos Fiano from Luigi Maffini. This bottle is DOG from the town of Cilento, along the southern coast of Italy. The wine was a clear, medium straw color with brassy highlights. It had thin, deliberate legs that trickled down the goblet of my glass. The aromas were evident without being overwhelming. The bright bouquet of white peaches, green pears, lime peel, gardenia, jasmine, ripe banana and wet stone readily flowed from the rim. The dry wine was sharply acidic with a more viscous texture than one would expect in most white wines. The moderate level of alcohol was refreshing and easy drinking. Notes of banana, white peaches, white gummy bears, ripe pears, jasmine, and crisp minerality made it a perfect for a warm spring or summer day. It would pair wonderfully with slightly heavier foods like chicken with cream sauce or fattier fish, like salmon. Fiano is a very food friendly wine because of it’s acidity and texture, so don’t hesitate to experiment!