One of the true joys of Italian wine is the sheer amount of variety that’s available. No matter what your personal preference, you know that you’re going to find something to match it.
The key to this variety lies in many things. The efforts of each individual producer play a huge role, of course. They pour their hearts and souls into their wines, with each lending their own little spin to defined classics.
The land itself also play a huge part. The quality of the soil impacts the quality of the grape, which ultimately leads to great wines.
But of course, the biggest differentiator is the grapes themselves.
There are literally hundreds of grape varieties in Italy. Each producer has their own preferences, though there are also many grapes native to specific regions that have to go into the wine the producer makes if they’re to achieve DOC classification.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at a grape that we believe deserves a lot more love. The Fiano grape is used in a number of high-quality Italian wines. Here, we’re going to take a look at the grape’s key features and some of the wines that make use of it.
The Grape’s History
Those who study the history of Italian wine have deemed the Fiano grape as a “classical vine”, which means that it dates back centuries. In fact, records show that the Ancient Romans definitely cultivated the grape. And it’s likely that the Ancient Greeks also grew it and may have had a hand in introducing it into Italy in the first place.
Famous wine historian Jancis Robinson believes that the work of other historians had led to the identification of this grape as the one used for the Apianum wine that the Romans loved so much. We know for a fact that the wine was produced in the hills of Avellino, which is the region that this grape calls its home in the modern day.
But bees are the most important evidence.
The pulp that this grape is exceptionally sweet. It attracts many bees to the Avellino region and they’re a common sight on the vineyards.
When we look at the root of the word “Apianum”, we can see “Apiana”. That’s the Latin word for bee, which suggests that even the Ancient Romans had issues with bees while cultivating this grape.
With such a rich history behind it, you’d expect this grape to be amongst the most famous that the country has produced. However, there are a few disadvantages that make it a little difficult to cultivate. The vine itself naturally producers a low yield, which makes it difficult for producers to keep up with the demand that the quality of the wines create. There’s also the fact that the grape itself producers very little juice.
Combined, these two factors make creating wines using this grape in bulk is a very difficult prospect. Scarcity combined with quality certainly creates demand. But even today, many winemakers consider the Fiano grape to be unprofitable. As such, only the most dedicated actually make wines using it.
This decrease in growing was most pronounced in the 19thand 20thcenturies. During these periods, the grape fell into decline when compared to more famous grapes, such as Trebbiano and Sangiovese.
But it was not forgotten. And as we dig deeper into the 21stcentury, the rise of the internet has led to a much more educated consumer base. People know what Fiano is now and they’re keen to give the wine a try. As a result, there’s been a recent uptick in the number of winemakers growing the grape. That means more investment into the wines that it produces, which is only a good thing for the Italian wine industry as a whole.
Describing the Grape
Fiano is a white wine grape that’s found in the Southern regions of the country. Campania is the main region for the grape, although it’s often grown on Sicily too. In fact, it’s possible that the poor reputation that Sicilian wine industry developed in the 20thcentury could have had a slight effect on this grape’s decline during the same period.
But coming back to Campania, the most populous area for the grape as the aforementioned Avellino. That’s where the most famous Fiano wine – Fiano di Avellino – gets produced. That wine carries DOCG certification, which immediately tells you that it’s a high-quality product.
Interestingly, the grape has also managed to make its way outside of Italy. It’s especially popular in Australia, where the warmer climate creates ideal growing conditions. Obviously, Australian wines cannot carry the DOCG label. However, it’s nice to know that you have some other options if you find it difficult to get your hands on a good Italian Fiano wine.
It’s also starting to build a small, yet solid, following in Argentina. Winemakers in the La Rioja district have started to experiment with the grape, which means even more options are available for those who want to try it.
Of course, the original and best Fiano wines will always come from Italy. And when you crack open the bottle, you’ll immediately get hit by the powerful notes that almost overwhelm the senses. The first sip shows that Fiano wines have powerful flavours too, which makes it extremely refreshing.
It’s Time to Try Something New
Despite the grape’s long and storied history, it’s entirely possible that you’ve never even had the chance to try a Fiano wine. The grape’s low yield has held it back from becoming as famous as some of its counterparts.
Why not redress the balance?
The low yields that this grape vine produces mean that winemakers focus so much of their efforts on creating quality products. Simply put, it’s difficult to find a Fiano wine that doesn’t offer quality from the moment that you open the bottle.
Why not check the Xtrawine catalogue to see if we have any of these wines in stock for you right now?