iano is a white-wine grape originating in the Campania region of Italy, and also now much grown in Sicily, and of late even in Australia.
The wines are pale in color, and typically strong-flavored with an intense aroma; it is described as being "weighty" on the palate, with a honeyed, floral nose and distinct taste qualities of spice, honey, and frequently a hazelnut overtone.
Better-made specimens are considered thoroughly age-worthy, and to not merely withstand bottle age but improve over several years, with the spice and nut flavors especially becoming better established.
Fiano was traditionally subject to being unduly heavy and especially to being prone to premature oxidation. The winemaking techniques of modern times are said to have largely or wholly overcome those problems, though in candor not all vintners practice such techniques yet.
The grape is inherently low-yielding, and that combined with the older difficulties of vinification saw its plantings decrease markedly in the last couple of centuries; but it is now again on the upswing, as a result of the better winemaking and consequent worldwide interest in Fiano.
By repute, the best specimens come from the province of Avellino, and are known as "Fiano di Avelino". True Fiano di Avellino must be at least 85% Fiano (with Greco, Coda di Volpe, and Trebbiano also permitted up to a combined total maximum of 15%), and is often 100% monovarietal.
Fiano is generally considered one of the dozen and a half or so of world-class white-wine grapes (those in boldface in the varietals list to the left of the page).
Factoid: Fiano has a lineage extending back at least to Roman times; it is likely the Roman Apianum wine, the name deriving from the bees that to this day are commonly attracted to the sweet grape pulp.
Some Descriptions of Fiano DOCG Wines
"According to Jancis Robinson, Fiano can produce an ageworthy wine that has to potential to develop in the bottle for several years after the vintage date. In its youth Fiano is often intensely flavored and aromatic with honey notes that over time develop more spicy and nutty notes. . . In the opinion of wine expert Oz Clarke, well made examples of Fiano from favorable vintages should have a fair amount of weight on the palate with a floral aroma and notes of honey and spice with the potential to continue improving with bottle age. The Italian wine Fiano di Avellino is often characterized as a pale straw colored wine with strong aromas of spice and floral notes. On the palate, those aroma notes are often present along with honey and nutty hazelnut notes."
"Fiano di Avellino is a dry white wine (I mention this because Fiano can be found produced as semi-sweet or sweet wine), medium-bodied and typically the color of summer straw with a persistent nose and rich palate. The wine’s flavor / aromatic profile can be complex: pears, white peaches, tropical fruit, hazelnuts, white flowers, herbs and honey can often appear as can highlights of oranges, smoke, or sea salt that seem to glide above delicious minerality and acidity. Generally speaking, Fiano di Avellino is a wine best drunk young, say, 5 years from vintage, although when from great producers in great vintages, Fiano di Avellino can age well to 10 years or so."
"Fiano has a naturally high sugar content (hence the bee attraction) and there is a sweet sparkling wine produced locally that unfortunately isn't destined for outside marketing. But the dry table wine version is what earned its DOCG in 2003. It's known for its flavors of lychee, quince and peach, with hints of orange blossom, spice and balanced acidity. Some styles have a pleasant underlying note of hazelnuts."
"De Long's Wine Grape Varietal Table lists the variety as having the potential to produce light weight wines of moderate to high acidity. The flavour profile is described as 'Nutty, herbal, aromatic, with smoky spicy notes and hazelnuts'. In her latest book Vine Grapes Jancis Robinson describes the variety as "Rich waxy, strongly flavoured fashionable." What I like about the vareity is its freshness and light body. It is a suitable alternative to Sauvignon blanc.
"Used both in blends and to produce varietal wine, Fiano is favored for its strong flavors and waxy texture. It can add body weight and roundness to a white wine blend, and impart floral and honeyed notes, often with spicy accents."
"Richly flavored, medium-bodied white. . . Light, straw-yellow color with appealing aromas and flavors of ripe pears, honey and toasted hazelnuts. At its best after a year or two in the bottle, Fiano will age up to five."
Berry Brothers & Rudd
"The grape is low yielding and early ripening and produces crisp, well-balanced wines, often with hints of honey and nuts. Previously Fiano-based wine were often prone to oxidation - however with the advent of modern winemaking techniques the wines are now renowned for their freshness and the best examples can benefit from 2-3 years of bottle ageing."
"The Fiano grape variety is a fairly strong flavoured wine grape native to the south of Italy, particularly in around Avellino in the Campania region, where Fiano di Avellino is a DOCG, and in Sicily it has been cultivated for more than two thousand years. Fiano di Avellino DOCG is a wine of great elegance and refinement with an intense odor and a harmonious flavor that features scents of toasted hazelnuts. Perfect as an aperitif, the wine also makes a fine accompaniment for refined dishes based on seafood."
Wine Making Talk
"Wine made from Fiano grapes has a distinct nutty taste, with hints of herbs, honey and spice. If aged, it can develop more flower aroma and smoky flavors."