Fiano is a white wine grape variety that excels in Campania, in and around Naples in Italy's south. The variety reaches its apogee around the town of Avellino, where it is known as Fiano di Avellino. The quality of Avellino(s wines is inferred by its DOCG status. Here, calcareous soils of decomposed fossils, ancient and bereft of nutrients, force the vine's root systems to struggle. This helps to imbue many of the top wines with a pronounced minerality.
This minerality is just as well, helping to tame the pungent herbal aromas, richness and heady viscosity that Fiano's wines offer in abundance. The mineral component is further accentuated by the top contemporary producers in the region, with judicious lees handling and occasionally, a hint of oak. Malolactic fermentation is avoided for obvious reasons.
Fiano is best consumed young, when the pungent aromas and textural complexity can be appreciated. Moderate to low levels of acidity bring little benefit with age. Alcohols are often in excess of 14 percent. Nevertheless, Fiano is as responsible for as many premium wines carrying a high price tag, as it is for irreverent quaffing styles, ubiquitous from Ischia, and western Sicily, through to the volcanic soils closer to Taurasi and the border of Basilicata and Puglia.
Fiano is among the finest white wine grapes in all of Italy. It is certainly among a few capable of true complexity, throughout the Mediterranean. This is because of its dichotomous balance between weight and texture, and yet an overall impression of freshness. Similarly, in Australia, Beach Road make a fine example in McLaren Vale. It is scented with lavender and thyme, boasting briskness that belies its warm climate origins.