Tuta's Wine

Writing under the Influence

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Fiano di Avellino Mastroberardino 2007

February 27th, 2011 · No Comments · Italy, Red, Uncategorized

…he would as soon have thought of carrying an odour in a net as of attempting to convey the intangibilities of his feeling in the coarse meshes of language.  So he remained silent.

Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd (1874).

Not all of us are as cautious as Gabriel Oak, the stoic farmer who loved Bathsheba Everdene.  In matters of wine, we chatter freely and swing our nets from side to side.  The subject is innately harmless, consequential only because we make it so.  Perhaps it is in discussions of the smell of wine that fancy is most free and truth sometimes left behind, shaking her head with reproach.

The white wine Fiano di Avellino from the uplands of Campania east of Naples is known for its fragrance. de Pascale, a wine store in the town of Avellino, gets it right:

Profumo elegante e sottile con sentori di pera quando è giovane che mutano in nocciola tostada col tascorrere degli anni

“An elegant and subtle nose with the scent of pears when young and changing to the smell of toasted nuts after some years”

The wine blog Decanter made a run of its own at the smell of Fiano:

A complex nose of honey, peaches and vanilla with a slightly smoky tinge.

We are clearly bracketing the target and closing fast.  A sweet smell — summery and full — with fruit turning to nuts in autumn.  We all have friends who progress in this way.

Fiano is a grape variety.  It is old in the way of grapes from southern Italy: a gift from the Greeks — at least by tradition — with antecedents in Phoenicia and points east.  After so much time, we speak of these grape varieties as autochthonous — intensely local and indigenous.

The taste of Fiano is slightly honeyed.  The Romans called it Vitis apiana — the bee vine  –not so much for its taste but because the vines attracted bees.   The Roman taste in wine ran to bitter, salty (not a modern favorite), and oxidized, like cooking sherry today, but these things are hard to know.  Despite a mercifully low alcohol level (12.5 %), Fiano has a dense, mature quality.  It can stand up to garlic and pasta, oil, tomato, and rosemary.  And especially to seafood, served in Posillipo, Naples, long after dark, within sight of water and distant lights.

About $20.

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