Monday, March 29, 2010

A Sublime Italian White Wine

I needed a wine to accompany some take-out Chinese food the other evening and as I usually can’t go wrong with an aromatic white from Italy, I selected the 2008 Colli di Lapio Fiano di Avellino .

While I looked forward to seeing how this wine would pair with my Pork Subgum Chow Mein (subgum is with almonds and broccoli and it’s become my one of my favorites), I was especially curious about this particular wine, as the Italian wine publication Gambero Rosso had named this the “White Wine of the Year” in their recently published 2010 Italian Wines guide. Pretty daunting stuff!

Now in reality, how can you select one wine as the best white (or red or sparkling or dessert) of the year? You can argue for a dozen, perhaps even two dozen bottlings that could also earn that title. So while honoring one wine as the best isn’t a perfect situation, all you can ask is that the wine is truly something special.

This one really is. I love Campanian whites and I have to admit that over the past few years, I’ve been more enamored with Greco di Tufo than Fiano di Avellino, as the former tends to offer more subtleties, at least in the bottlings I’ve had. So it was nice to taste a Fiano that wasn’t overly ripe or lush, but still had plenty of varietal character as well as wonderful complexity.

Here are my tasting notes, as they will appear in the next issue of my Guide to Italian Wines:

Bright, light yellow with beautiful aromas of melon, Bosc pear, acaica honey and chamomile. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Rich, layered finish with outstanding persistence – almost fat. Vibrant acidity with prounced minerality in the finish. Outstanding fruit and superb winemaking combine to make this a first-rate Fiano di Avellino that is delicious now and will only improve for 3-5 years.

For such a wonderful white wine, I think the $26 retail price tag is very reasonable. This is a Marc de Grazia selection and there are various importers across the country. Needless to say, it may not be easy to find the wine, given the Gambero Rosso praise, but if it’s gone, wait a few months for the 2009 bottling.

In case you’re looking for something other than take-out Chinese food to pair with this or other bottlings of Fiano di Avellino, pasta with clams and/or mussels would be ideal as would cod, grouper or sea bass.

As well as a review of this wine, as well as some other whites from Campania (and Friuli), I'll also list my selections for the Best Italian Wines and Best Italian Producers of the Year. The subscription fee for one year of the guide is $30. If you only want this issue, the price is $10. For information on how to subscribe, click here.


  1. Hi Tom -

    Any thoughts on a store around Chicago that would have this?



  2. Hi Tom,

    I happened to be in Naples when I read your post and I managed to get one of the last bottles of Colli di Lapio's Fiano di Avellino (only 12 euro here). Wow, what a concentrated, great wine. Thanks for writing about it.---Mattie

  3. Mattie:

    Hey that's great it worked out for you! Glad I could help and thanks for letting me know about it.

    I tasted the 2009 a few days ago at VinItaly and it is equally outstanding. 2009 is a bit richer than 2008, so we'll see how this tastes out in a year, assuming there's some left!

  4. what wine would you pair with linguine alla vongole?

  5. My favorite pairing is Greco di Tufo, with its minerality and high acidity. Falanghina is also an ideal pairing.