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!
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
Betty Kaufman, WineShop At Home
I’ve never tried a wine with Pellagrello (to my knowledge, anyway), even when we visited Amalfi.
But I’ve had lots of Fiano’s. While, historically, Fiano was made in a sweetish style, that is hardly ever true any more, at least what is exported to the US. Instead, it is vinified dry. Delicious with almost any kind of seafood (not surprising, since most folks in Campania eat seafood multiple times a day, usually with lemons!). Lots of examples around in good wine shops in the $20-$25 range. My favorite is by Clelia Romano.
Thanks, as always, for the great recommendation!
Yes some great wines from this region including Greco. Fiano can be an age worthy italian white as well.
Good to know. Thanks!
As previously written. F.d.Avellino is NOT SWEET. In case You can find some late harvests. Even the sparkling wines Fiano based are dry. It is true that it might smell of honey, anyway. And absolutely the good ones (many ones) can age.
Actually, grappa can be made by any kind of grape. If the vine variety fetches higher alcohol levels, this doesn’t change the process that much.
Pls remember that the main feature of Campania winemaking is the attention reserved to the local varieties. Less Cab, Merlot and Chardonnay here.
Thanks as always for your insightful comments. Cheers!
As previously said , pallagrello is also a White skinned grape.