Rocca del Principe Fiano
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Type FianoRead About the Wine
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As one commentator notes about this wine, “Campanian husband and wife and winemaking duo, Aurelia Fabrizio and Ercole Zarrella, immediately commanded the attention of critics and consumers alike through the sheer breadth of aromatics, minerals and compelling nuances displayed in their substantial Fiano di Avellino.”
Which is to say – here is another super-compelling, gorgeous-drinking Italian white that Italians know, love, and snatch up every year, but that still draws a bit of a blank on the world wine stage. And I can understand, Fiano di Avellino isn’t everyone’s daily house tipple, and yet the wine is so good, that it deserves an introduction:
The grape is Fiano, and its most famous growing region is in southern Italy in the hills of Avellino. There, it is thought to have grown for over 3,000 years, dating back to ancient Roman viticulture and probably the Greeks before them. Indeed, 2,500 years ago, Fiano made the famous Roman wine Apinum from the hillsides of Avellino. Vitis Apina referring to the Latin word for bees, who even today love the strong flowery aromas and sugary pulp of Fiano and are a prevalent sight in Avellino.
Yet this very nature of the grape that bees and ancient Roman Emperors appreciated is also related to the reason you’ve probably never heard of Fiano. Fiano’s very small, thick-skinned berries lead to the vine having a natural propensity to have incredibly low yields. Low yields means more concentrated, powerful juice – which is great if you’ve got the Roman Emperor’s purse funding you, but bad if the general public has no inkling of what it takes to make your wine. In fact, in the later half of the 20th century, Fiano was nearly extinct.
I would love to make the claim that Aurelia Fabrizio and Ercole Zarrella were responsible for saving Fiano but that, in fact, is not the case. Theirs is a young winery, too new for that. But, they have pioneered a philosophy of working with Fiano’s natural low-yielding abilities to make intense, rich complex Fiano that has for every year won Gambero Rosso’s top markings. And in the glass, it shows:
The nose opens with bountiful and luxurious expressions of Asian pear, honeydew melon and orange peel with just a dash of hazelnut tying all the aromas together in a seamless integration. The palate has a lustrous texture – revealing to the imbiber that this grape is indeed low-yielding and offers up a level of concentration on the palate. Being fuller, yet also coming from Southern Italy, it works both as a refreshing cocktail on a warm summer day but will stand up to almost any dish, if it be Pollo al Mattone with a roasted garlic and fennel relish or tuna loin with grilled Meyer lemons and castelvetrano olives.
And just one more thing – Fiano is renowned (in Avellino and at Waterford) for its aging potential. Many in the know call Fiano “the white Burgundy of southern Italy”—and it ages like Burgundy, putting on a depth and complexity of flavor that just can’t be matched. This wine, at five years old, is in striking prime-time condition, but will last at least another five in your cellar.
Come, enjoy this relatively undiscovered Italian pleasure!