Please don’t be surprised, if our Reserve white wines are very much on my mind these days, having just returned from a week of ocean fly-fishing off Cape Cod with wine- making colleagues, including my counterpart at our owner’s Tenuta Il Bosco estate in Oltrepò Pavese. And, if I appear especially exuberant with my catch of this beautiful rockfish, it’s because it came to me just as we are announcing an exciting “new” wine to enjoy with it.
Vermentino’s extraordinary success in our vineyards, through six remarkable vintages, has encouraged us to invest in plantings of other vinifera varietals from sunny, hot growing areas and ancient lineage in southern Italy. With the perspective of our estate’s setting in the latitude of Sicily, we know the Mediterranean coasts of Italy harbor great grape varieties for our cultivation, and our owner’s vineyards in Italy have extensive experience with them. Following in Vermentino’s footsteps, we have discovered a second, scintillating star in our cultivation of warm-climate whites.
On the weekend of July 9th and 10th, our Tasting Room and Library 1821 will introduce our first vintage of Fiano, which has been grown on the slopes of Campania near Naples for thousands of years, and which the Romans knew as their Vine of the Bees, Vitis Apiana. To see Francisco Martinez, of our viticulturist Fernando Franco’s grape-growing team, claiming our first clusters of this grape last September, stirs gratitude for the bees’ discovery. For generations, Fiano has been fermented as a classic dry white of Campania, fully capturing as Viognier does in its warm climate in the Rhône Valley, the radiant floral and southern-climate fruit notes recurring in grapes from such settings. Fiano combines the vivid acidity of Vermentino with a dry but seductive, softer, almost pillow-like palate suggesting honey, oranges, peaches, pineapple, spice, and nuttiness, with moderate mineral notes. Palladio Restaurant will feature the Fiano in the new Summer Menu, commencing July 13th, and can be counted on to illuminate the wine beyond words.
Fiano Reserve 2015 is naturally a small production, available only at the winery and not online. Fermented in stainless steel and aged in very neutral barrels, with lees-stirring paralleling our handling of Vermentino and Sauvignon Blanc Reserve, Fiano has their structure and textural substance. We present it for immediate enjoyment, but like the Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc, we expect our Fiano to evolve very handsomely in bottle through 3 to 5 years. With this first vintage, it is naturally too soon to predict how Fiano will be revealed by further years of development in our climate and soils, but we are very excited with it.
As we had hoped, this is a gorgeously distinctive and welcoming wine, almost irresistible to select in a broad range of white wine food pairings, especially where seasonings are not so strong as to obscure its delicate contributions, and cooking involves the least fats, as in poaching, steaming, roasting, and grilling. Its versatility comes not from being indistinct, but from being what the bees had told the Romans, a choice to enjoy spontaneously. We welcome you to the pleasure.