Welcome to the final article of my Italian varietal series. The focus of this article is Campania, which lies on Italy’s “lower shin” and is home to Napoli (Naples), the region’s main city. Although often considered Rome’s poor relation, Campania has a lot to commend it, including Capri, the Amalfi Coast, Limoncello 🙂 and Mt. Vesuvius, famous for destroying Pompeii in the late first century.
winecountry.it tells us that while wine making has been going on in this region since the 13th century B.C., most of the wine is intended for immediate pleasure and consumption, which has led many to consider the local wines as second-class products.
Fortunately, according to Laurie Daniel of the San Jose Mercury News, “…The past three decades have seen a renaissance in the Campania wine industry.”
While the region is probably best known for Taurasi, a red wine made from the Aglianico grape, I wanted to explore Fiano de Avellino and Pallagrello, two lesser known varieties that are seeing a resurgence.
Fiano de Avellino
Laurie Daniel says that Fiano di Avellino “displays a pronounced smokiness, along with notes of hazelnut, citrus and apple.” It is a sweet white wine, and bees are noticeably attracted to its delectable juices. In Italy, you can find Fiano de Avellino blended into sweet sparkling wines, but according to Wine Searcher, these are rarely exported.
Although it has been cultivated for over 2,000 years, Fiano de Avellino has long taken a back seat to higher yielding grapes. But thanks to forward-thinking winemakers with the prescience to see it on the world stage, it is being resurrected.
Fiano de Avellino’s sweet, honey notes with spicy undertones pair well with local food: grilled fish and vegetables, and seafood salads. Its quality and drinkability are helping Campania’s wine production garner respectability again.
Pallagrello, likely a true Campania native, is a thick-skinned grape surprisingly soft on tannins and high on alcohol. According to Wine Searcher, Pallagrello exhibits “black, fruit aromas such as plum and blackberry along with chocolate and some peppery notes.” Apparently, this wine is also sweet and hardy enough for grappa, a brandy made from grapes.
Pallagrello is called “the King’s wine” as it was one of King Ferdinando IV of Borbone’s favorites, and was planted in his famous Vigna del Ventaglio, or fan-shaped garden at his Campanian castle grounds.
If you have enjoyed a taste of either of these Campania varietals at your castle, please let me know your thoughts!