When you think of Italian white wines, such offerings as Soave and Pinot Grigio may come immediately to mind, while such specialties as Ribolla Gialla from Friuli, Gewurztraminer from Alto Adige or Vermentino from Sardinia are among the most distinct of all of the country’s whites. Yet few people talk much about the white wines of Campania, which for me are not only some of the best in the country, but also represent an excellent price/quality ratio.
In this post, I will deal with wines made from Greco and Fiano. In the next post, I will discuss other whites wines from Campania, including Falanghina as well as the wines from the Amalfi Coast and other areas of this lovely region.
Greco di Tufo / Fiano di Avellino
The two most heralded white wines of Campania are from the inland province of Avellino, some 30 miles east of Napoli. The wines are Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino, both DOCG. Greco is named for the Greeks colonists, who first planted these vines in this area some 2000 years ago. Greco di Tufo – or Greco made from the Tufo area – offers flavors of lemon and pear, generally with a note of almond and minerality in the finish. Most bottlings are fermented and aged in stainless steel, so as not to obscure the wonderful aromatics of the wine. Most examples drink well at 2-5 years after the vintage, depending on the producer and given year.
Fiano di Avellino – made from the Fiano grape in the Avellino province – tends to offer a bit more body than Greco di Tufo. The aromas generally are of pear and orange blossom with a note of honey. These wines are also given stainless steel treatment by most producers; most age well for 3-7 years after the vintage.
The best producers of Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino include:
- Feudi di San Gregorio
- Antonio Caggiano
- Villa Raiano
A few producers will release both a regular and special bottling of Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino. The special bottling may be a selection of the finest grapes or it may be a single vineyard offering. These wines offer more complex aromas, are richer on the palate and tend to age longer periods of time than a regular offering. Examples of these special bottlings include:
- “Nova Serra” Greco di Tufo from Mastroberardino
- “Cutizzi” Greco di Tufo from Feudi di San Gregorio
- “Loggia della Serra” Greco di Tufo from Terredora
- “Radici” Fiano di Avellino from Mastroberardino
- “Pietracalda” Fiano di Avellino from Feudi di San Gregorio
- “Terre di Dora” Fiano di Avellino from Terredora
- “Vigna della Congregazione” Fiano di Avellino from Villa Diamante
A few producers offer a special blend of Greco and Fiano; the most famous include “Campanaro” from Feudi di San Gregorio and “Doceassaje” from Vinosia.
There are other bottlings of Greco and Fiano from outside the province of Avellino. The best are the wines made from Fiano by Luigi Maffini, a producer in the Salrno province, south of Napoli. He produces three versions of Fiano: a stainless steel bottling called “Kratos”, a barrique-aged version named “Pietraincatenata” and a wonderful dessert offering made in a Passito style, where the grapes are dried naturally for several months. There are numerous producers of Fiano Passito; to my tastes, the Luigi Maffini version with its flavors of pineapple, apricot and dried honey backed by great fruit persistence, cleansing acidity and delicate sweetness, is among the finest dessert wines produced today in all of Italy.
I mentioned the price/quality ratio earlier; most versions of Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino can be found in the $20-$25 price range on American retail shelves; the special bottlings may be in the $30 price range or a few dollars higher. Compared to some of the finest white blends of Friuli, for example, these represent fine values.