What type of wine is fiano?
Fiano is a rich, waxy and distinctly dry white wine from the Campania region of southern Italy (of Naples and Pompeii fame). It has been grown in the region as long as written records have existed – at least back to the 13th century – although there’s every likelihood it’s been around far longer, with Roman gardening guru Pliny the Elder describing an almost identical grape way back in the first century AD. Despite its age this grape has only just been ‘discovered’ by Australian winemakers, as they turn their focus from France to Italy in search of the sort of heat-resistant grapes that can cope with the ever greater demands of our changing climate. The hardiness and unique characteristics of the grape have seen it gain a wealth of fans – both producers and drinkers – in a short amount of time.
What does fiano taste like?
The taste of fiano is quite strong compared to most whites. It’s a medium-bodied wine, similar in weight to pinot grigio, viognier and semillon, with a rich, waxy texture that you’ll see experts describing as lanolin. It’s punchy on the nose too, with spicy, almost smoky notes filling the nostrils. The flavour profile of fiano leans far more toward the earthy end of the spectrum than it does the fruity. While notes of peach, grapefruit and lemon zest will be present, herby and nutty flavours will be more noticeable on the palate.
Is fiano dry or sweet?
While fiano can be made sweet (Italians call it vitis apiana – the wine beloved by bees – because its natural sugar attracts swarms when it ripens), it’s more commonly made in a dry style that showcases its more prominent flavours.
Where does the best fiano come from?
The majority of the world’s supply of fiano still comes from Italy, and it’s in the grape’s birthplace in Campania that you’ll find the most iconic drops. But thanks to the newfound Australian interest in fiano, our local industry is already beginning to produce fantastic quality wines. They may not taste much like the original, but that’s sort of the point. The grape has found success in McLaren Vale and the Clare Valley, but it’s been in the less feted and slightly warmer regions of the Riverland and Riverina that fiano has maybe found its Australian home. The light and fresh wines often produced by these areas are far removed from the rich and waxy Italian offerings, and are opening up the grape to entirely new segments of the wine drinking public.