Domenico Winery + Osteria

freshly picked fiano grapes

Famous Italian Wines 101: Fiano

When people think of Italian white wines, their first thoughts are usually Pinot Grigio or maybe Vermentino. This may lead some to assume that Northern Italy is home to the best white wines, but that’s not true at all. Central and Southern Italy is home to some impressive white wines, and one of them is Fiano.

An ancient grape with tons of history, Fiano stands on its own in character and finesse. It’s an expressive varietal with a fascinating story to tell. And, some Italian wine scholars consider this grape to be the most superior Italian white grape varietal.

Let’s Discover All the Facts About Fiano!

The Romans most likely drank lots of Fiano

When the elite of Rome wished to vacation, they would travel to the region of Campania. They called this areas Campania Felix, or the happy countryside, at the time. It comes as no surprise – the Campania region is gorgeous. It is home to the famous Amalfi Coast, after all.

There, the Romans indulged in all the wines. While there has yet to be confirmation that the Romans did drink Fiano, many grape historians believe the wine they loved (called Latino) was- in fact – Fiano. It makes sense, as this grape is said to be one of Italy’s oldest varietals, dating back thousands of years.

Ancient Roman Statue

Bees were said to love this grape

During Roman times, there was a bit of admiration for a grape called vitis apiana. Why? Well, the famous wine-loving Roman author Columella and philosopher Pliny the Elder found this grape fascinating because of how its sweetness attracted bees to the vineyard. This attribute is where the name vitis apiana comes from – the root Latin word apis, meaning bees.

There’s much discussion around whether Fiano descended from vitis apiana or if they’re related at all. Many locals believe so, as bees linger around the grape bunches often.

Fiano was forgotten about for many years

While this grape is undeniably unique, there was a long period where Fiano was barely mentioned. And, we are talking centuries – from the 13th century to the 20th century. While there were indirect mentions here and there, it was clear that the grape was not given the attention it deserved, facing almost extinction.

Fortunately, in the 1940s, Antonio Mastroberardino decided to save this grape. Sourcing its grapes from different vineyards, he produced the first Fiano wine in 1945. The Mastroberardino family’s initiative was the ultimate turning point in Fiano’s future, as well as the future for multiple indigenous grape varietals in Southern Italy.

Its flavors and aromas are like no other grape

Fiano brings a lot to the table, in terms of flavor and aroma, which can vary slightly by where it’s grown. Overall, it produces a medium-bodied white wine. On the nose, it has a lot of orchard fruits, minerality, and sometimes herbaceous aromas. More specifically, Fiano is known to have a distinct hazelnut-like aroma as well. When sipping Fiano, you’ll notice its beautiful acidity and almost waxy character (an inadvertent nod to Fiano’s love affair with bees!)

picturesque hillside town in Campania

This grape’s most famous wine is Fiano di Avellino DOCG

The most prestigious wine-growing area for this grape is Fiano di Avellino, a DOCG established in 2003. This high-altitude area surrounds the historic town of Avellino, East of Napoli and just North of Salerno. It produces wines that are refreshing and very elegant. And, with the right producer and vintage, these wines can be exceptionally ageable, holding up for 8 to 10 years.

The Fiano di Avellino from Historia Antiqua is one to try. As a 2018 vintage, it has just enough age for you to see how Fiano’s character and structure can hold up and impress!

But, it does grow in other places in Italy too

Fiano’s finesse has influenced winemakers outside Campania to bring this special grape to their vineyards. You can find Fiano grown in Puglia as well as Sicily. It even has made its way to Ventotene, a small island part of the Isole Pontine (or the Pontine Islands.)

Fiano is also grown internationally

Folks all over the world have taken a liking to Fiano. You can now find producers in Australia, California, and even Virginia growing this grape. Fortunately, these places offer vineyard sites with soils, exposures, and climate that can support Fiano, producing some fascinating wines.

First time discovering Fiano? Or, are you already a lover of this wine? Either way, we hope that you learned something cool about this special varietal. There really isn’t another grape like it!