Colli di Lapio Vineyard in Avellino, Campania
There are three main white grape varieties grown in Campania: Falanghina, Greco di Tufo and Fiano. Each of these varieties has its own unique character. Falanghina is often more citrusy and zesty, Greco di Tufo less vibrant on the nose but with full and complex flavours and textures while Fiano is more aromatic and rich in mouthfeel. Any discussion about the white wines of Southern Italy is likely to end up with some strong individual preferences expressed. Is one variety better than the others? Well, there is just no way to compare apples to apples (grapes to grapes?!). For one thing, each of these wines can be very age-worthy and so each will have a striking range of characteristics and personality over time. Likewise, each comes from different regions and, within these regions, quite individual vineyards. The permutations are too myriad to allow for a “best” variety. That’s OK because they are all extremely delicious and typically made in a fresh and vibrant style.
My own preference might be for Fiano. Fiano surprises you as you drink it. The lush tropical aroma doesn’t prepare you for the bright attack and edginess on first sip. So you are momentarily convinced this is a crisp, tight sort of wine. But then there is a mid-palate weight and depth of flavours that brings a whole new reckoning – this is a wine for food. The home of Fiano is Avellino in Campania and it has its own DOCG region within Avellino. When looked at on the wine map it is astonishing how many great wine regions crowd around Fiano di Avellino DOCG: Taurasi, Sannio, Greco di Tufo, Salerno, Irpinia and Aglianico del Taburno. There is so much magic and magnetism in the names and so much substance for someone travelling in search of momentous wine. Fiano di Avellino, both in name and in character, is a poetic member of Campania’s pantheon of great wines.
Fiano grapes make noble and seductive wines
Why Fiano di Avellino For Wine?
The Fiano grape apparently had its ancestral origin in this area and so is truly at home here. It has been transplanted to other places, most notably Australia, and has found good success. Still, the largest amount of Fiano grown in the world is in the Fiano di Avellino DOCG. The wine itself is very elegant and sophisticated. It has a certain regal bearing and this may be the Princess Diana or Isabella Rossellini of wines. It has charm, nobility and beauty but also a playful and seductive side. It is delightful to drink and savour on its own but it also pairs incredibly well with food, including relatively hefty dishes with flavourful sauces.
For wine tours in Campania you can contact the following exceptional operators:
The Grand Wine Tour conducts tours in many of Italy’s greatest wine regions
Wine Lovers Tours are highly regarded Italian wine tourism specialists
Cellar Tours provides private high-quality wine tours in many regions including Southern Italy
Where Is Fiano di Avellino?
Fiano di Avellino DOCG in the heart of Campania
Located in the very heart of Campania and about an hour’s drive east from Napoli, Avellino is a hilly and rustic wine region. It is almost overshadowed by all of the other great wine regions in the hills above Naples and it certainly has to compete for attention among wine drinkers and tourists. Although it can be visited in a day trip from Naples, there are so many enticing wineries and wine roads in this part of Italy it would be a shame not to spend a few days drinking and eating your way around Avellino, Taurasi, Sannio Falanghina, Irpinia and Greco di Tufo.
Listen to the podcast interview with Salvatore Avallone of Villa Matilde on The Wine Beat
Who Are The Winemakers?
Avellino and neighbouring Benevento are represented by a small handful of very well-known international players such as Mastroberardino, Terredora and Feudi di San Gregorio but also by a whole host of small wineries and cooperatives producing outstanding wines. Here is a list to start your research project before you go to Fiano di Avellino!
The gardens at Cantina Donnachiara
Wine Tourism and Best Time to Visit
There is so much great wine and there are so many producers making superb quality wine that this is a terrific wine touring destination. The tradition of “agro-turismo” means that many vineyards provide hospitality including rooms and meals. The weather can be poor in January and February and the holiday season in August might be best avoided but really any time of year is wonderful for wine touring. Combining your trip with visits to Napoli, Pompeii and the Amalfi coast makes for an amazing sightseeing and gastronomic holiday!
Palazzo Cappellano dei Tufi courtesy of www.provincia.avellino.it
Map and photo credits: www.agricoltura.regione.campania.it; www.provincia.avellino.it; Cantina Donnachiara; Azienda Colli di Lapio