Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fiano-A Campania White That Blooms Where its Planted

If Campania had a favorite Fiano region, I wonder what it would be. Fiano…a grape around since ancient Roman times. Fiana, Fiore Mendillo, Foiano, Latino, Latina Bianca, Latino Bianco, Minutola, Minutolo, Santa Sofia...so many names. Grown here in Salerno, Benevento, and Avellino. Fiano...the grape that has earned its own music festival and the wine at the center of a seminar during the Fiano Music Festival in Aiello del Sabato (Av).

I attended this seminar last Saturday. A stroll through Fiano territory hosted by Raffaele Del Franco who was accompanied by three very experienced guides. Three familiar faces on the stage…Ais Campania President Nicoletta Gargiulo, Ais Campania Vice president and Delegate from Cilento and Valle di Diano Maria Sarnataro, and the Delegate from Benevento Maria Grazia De Luca. Their job was to help us understand the characteristics of this wine and note how Fiano can bloom where it’s planted.

No peeking!! This was a blind wine tasting. The only thing that we needed to know was the region. Good. This way we can concentrate on the wine. Its color, consistency…Concentrate on the aromas, its intensity, complexity…Concentrate on the flavors, the longevity.
So we began to dissect the regions…exploring, discovering as a group the differences and similarities; comparing and contrasting. Six wines. Two wines from each region. Here we go…

We began in Cilento, in the Salerno province. Moved to Benevento to the ‘two sisters’; Sannio and Taburno (mountains in the area). Then it was over to Avellino, specifically Lapio.

Color…each wine basically had the same light yellow straw color, …typical of Fiano. But swirling the glass, holding it up to the light, watching the arches, the legs, the tears that formed. The wines chosen had differences noted in structure on this examination, even within the regions.

Nose to the glass. This is where I saw the greatest differences between regions. The offerings from Irpinia had aromas where fruit was the dominating force in respect to their neighbors at the tasting. One with exotic fruits such banana, papaya, and pineapple. We noted florals…particularly white flowers, herbal scents, and minerals throughout this excursion with Fiano.

One day I mentioned to a good friend how I didn’t ‘like’ a particular Fiano. He rephrased my statement…He said that that particular Fiano wasn’t the one for me. Good point.What I did note was that when it came time to taste the wines, the region did not matter much to me…I enjoyed each wine for what it had to share. Its acidity, sapidity, balance. Some smoother than others, yes. Some warmer than others, of course.

Before the seminar began, I thought that I would walk away with a favorite Fiano…that I would step away from the table with an area that I believed represented Campania the best…an area that I could share, talk about.

That didn’t happen.

I learned that evening that each wine had its strengths, its place, its purpose.

So, I may have walked into the seminar with a favorite region for Fiano, but I walked out with three. Salerno, Benevento, and Irpinia…

Maybe Campania feels the same…

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