A Pinnacle Fiano

Jan 11th 2020

A Pinnacle Fiano

For any program that prizes pinnacle expression of world-class varietals, I recommend picking up some Quintodecimo Fiano d'Avellino, "Exultet".

Not just for lovers of the varietal, the wine is as substantial, mouth-filling and luscious as a great Burgundy; its innate aromas are distinctive and versatile. And in the context of a great white wine, it's an affordable luxury.

Lovers of Fiano will extoll its many merits, including a charming ancient history and good genes. The grape originated in the mountains of Avellino, where its thick skins and small loose bunches thrive. A sweetish pulp attracts bees, hence the Romans called it "vitis apiana" or "vine of the bees"; the name eventually morphed into Fiano. Fiano's not just cellar-worthy, it can actually improve over several years. Add to this a density of both flavor and texture and you find Fiano cited by Jancis and others as a world-class varietal.

Luigi Moio became well versed in Fiano as a "turnaround expert" for numerous Campania wineries, where he learned the old real estate adage, "location, location, location", was just as essential for making a great wine. Without the right spot, a wine was destined for faults that required monumental work to overcome.

So when it came to starting Quintodecimo, Moio scoured the region for the best locations. Hence, his Fiano vineyard is at 570m in its homeland of Avellino, with idyllic exposure and soils.

If steel tanks and commercial yeasts elevated Fiano from its former rough-edged and oxidative style, the current state of the art includes texture-enhancing vinification and aging regimens. Here as well, Moio has the advantage, parlaying his years of study in Burgundy, Alsace and Bordeaux. His Fiano sees long, whole cluster press, lees aging and a combination of barrel/stainless vinification to achieve the maximum aromatics, texture and aging potential.

The result is truly transcendent, comparable to a 1er/grand cru Burg in texture with Moio's hallmark expressive aromatics. The wine opens with incredible jasmine notes and steely green apple; acacia honey becomes creamy on the palate with a refreshing zip from the acid backbone.