Tag Archives: Fiano

WineNews from Planeta Vino ;-)

I am glad to share with you a few interesting pieces of news that I have received from the guys at Planeta, one of the truly outstanding Sicilian producers who have marked the rebirth of quality winemaking in Sicily since the Nineties. Planeta has quite a differentiated offering of wines, with traditional peaks of excellence in their Sicilia IGT Chardonnay and Cometa wines (the latter being made out of 100% Fiano white-berried grapes) and very solid performers in their Noto Nero d’Avola “Santa Cecilia” DOC (on which, see our Veal Skewers – Recommended Wine Pairing post) and Syrah “Maroccoli” Sicilia IGT, to name a few.

Well, on to the news:

  1. Planeta’s latest addition to its array of wineries just became fully operational this year: it is called Feudo di Mezzo and is located on the slopes of Mount Etna (Sicily’s notoriously active volcano). This latest property complements Planeta’s four pre-existing Sicilian wineries: Ulmo in Sambuca (1995), Dispensa in Menfi and Dorilli in Vittoria (2001), Buonivini in Noto (2003).
  2. The 2012 harvest from Planeta’s Mount Etna vineyards is the first one to be processed at the new Feudo di Mezzo winery, where four of Planeta’s wines will be produced: (i) two Sicilia IGT wines, a Carricante IGT and a Nerello Mascalese IGT, from the Sciara Nuova vineyard (which features an excellent density of 5,000 to 10,000 vines/HA and lies outside of the Etna DOC area), in which Planeta’s enologists have been experimenting by adding small quantities of Riesling and Pinot Noir (respectively) to the base grapes; as well as (ii) an Etna Bianco DOC wine made from white-berried Carricante grapes and an Etna Rosso DOC wine made from black-berried Nerello Mascalese grapes.
  3. A first “pilot” batch of just 6,000 bottles of the 2010 Nerello Mascalese Sicilia IGT, the first vintage from the Sciara Nuova vineyard, has recently been released. It is made out of 100% Nerello Mascalese grapes (unlike future releases which might be blended with Pinot Noir), it has 13.5% VOL and it is supposed to have an “intense and elegant aroma” coupled with well-defined tannins: I hope I will be able to lay my hands on a bottle of it and get to try it for myself next year, when hopefully volumes will be greater.
  4. The first vintage of Planeta’s first Spumante Metodo Classico has also been recently relased: Planeta’s first attempt at a Classic Method sparkling wine is a Sicilia IGT wine made out 100% Carricante white-berried grapes from their Montelaguardia vineyard on Mount Etna, rests on its lees for 15 to 18 months and is available only in the Brut variety. It is supposed to give out fine pear, grass and mineral aromas and to be “vibrant and lean on the palate“: I would certainly be interested in giving this very peculiar wine a try, if I can get hold of a bottle.
  5. The guys at Planeta reported that the recently completed 2012 harvest had peaks of excellence in the Menfi and Sambuca vineyards, yielding amazing quality in their red wines, especially Nero d’Avola, Syrah and Cabernet Franc, which are rich and varietal with an excellent tannic structure. In the Noto and Vittoria vineyards the harvest was also memorable for Nero d’Avola, thanks to the dry and cool month of September. Planeta’s 2012 Nero d’Avola is said to exhibit structure, balance, bright colors and exuberant nose accompanied by high alcohol, which makes them “expect unique Cerasuolo and Santa Cecilia wines.” Definitely something to be looking forward to!

For more information, please refer to Planeta’s Web site or contacts.

As always, let me know if you get to try any of these wines and want to share your views on them. Cheers!

Pumpkin Soup – Recommended Wine Pairing

To adequately complement Francesca’s elegant pumpkin soup, I suggest you pick a medium-bodied white wine with enough acidity to compensate for the inherent sweetness of the pumpkin. Here are a few solid options to choose from, all of which I have selected (as usual) because they present a very good quality/price ratio.

To offer a little extra variety, I am going to recommend wines from two very different regions in Italy: Piemonte (in the Northwest) and Campania (in the South). The wines I am going to discuss below are all DOCG appellations, are all varietal and they all reflect the territories of their respective regions: those from Piemonte are all made out of Cortese grapes, while those from Campania are made out of either Greco or Fiano grapes.

Cortese is a white-berried grape variety that is indigenous to the Piemonte region. The appellation “Gavi DOCG” requires that wines be made out of 100% Cortese grapes grown in the area surrounding the town of Alessandria. Gavi wines are generally medium-bodies, fairly light dry white wines with good acidity.

Among the best Gavi wines available out there are Batasiolo‘s Gavi Graneé del Comune di Gavi DOCG (with scents of herbs, citrus, peach and Mirabelle plum) or Broglia‘s Gavi del Comune di Gavi “La Meirana” DOCG (with aromas of white flowers, apple, pear and citrus) or the nobler and more expensive old vine “brother” Gavi del Comune di Gavi “Bruno Broglia” DOCG (with scents of jasmine, herbs, pear, citrus and minerals) or La Scolca‘s Gavi dei Gavi DOCG (with aromas of almond, walnut and minerals). A special mention goes to a phenomenal Gavi made by Nicola Bergaglio: the Gavi del Comune di Gavi “Minaia” DOCG, with exquisite aromas of pear, gooseberry, white currant and minerals. Unfortunately, as of October 2012, the producer does not have a Web site: should you be interested in reaching out to them, just drop me an email.

Moving on to Campania, Greco and Fiano are both white-berried grape varieties that are used in two appellations of that region, namely “Greco di Tufo DOCG” and “Fiano di Avellino DOCG.” These both require that wine be made out of at least 85% respectively Greco and Fiano grapes grown in specific areas near the town of Avellino.

Fiano’s history can be traced back to the XIII century, based on evidence of a purchase order of Fiano wine for Emperor Frederick II. The grape origins are still debated, with some believing that it originated in Italy, where it is said to have been called vitis apiana by the Romans (literally, “bee grapevine”) because of the sweetness of the grapes which made them a favorite of bees, and others maintaining that it was instead brought to Italy by Greek migrants during the Greek colonization of Southern Italy (so-called “Magna Graecia”) in the VI century BC. Greco’s history goes even farther back than Fiano’s, with evidence of its cultivation in Campania being found in a mural painting in Pompei dating back to the I century BC, which refers to the wine obtained from that grape as “Greek wine.” This is because Greco is a grape that is said to have been imported into Italy from Thessaly (Greece) by the pre-Hellenic people of Pelasgians as far back as the second millennium BC. So, Fiano and Greco have both roots that go so deep in the documented history of Campania that they can be considered indigenous varieties to that region.

Notable Greco di Tufo wines include A Casa‘s Greco di Tufo “Bussi” DOCG (with scents of acacia blossoms, herbs, melon, pear, citrus and almond; noteworthy and commendable is the important investment made by the owner to achieve an excellent density of 5,000 vines/HA), Cantine I Favati‘s Greco di Tufo “Terrantica” DOCG (with flowery aromas of broom, mimosa, linden blossoms and walnut) or Mastroberardino‘s Greco di Tufo “Novaserra” DOCG (with scents of sage, apricot, peach, pear, apple, citrus and almond). A special mention goes out to the exceptional Pietracupa‘s Greco di Tufo DOCG (with exquisite aromas of fern, sage, nectarine, citrus, ginger and pepper): even in this case, unfortunately as of October 2012 the producer does not have a Web site: should you be interested in reaching out to them, just drop me an email. Note that all wines that we recommended above are entirely varietal, and therefore made out of 100% Greco grapes.

A few Fiano di Avellino wines that are worthy of mention are Le Masciare‘s Fiano di Avellino “Anbra” DOCG (with a bouquet of white flowers, herbs, melon, grapefruit and hazelnut), Cantine Antonio Caggiano‘s Fiano di Avellino “Bechar” DOCG (with aromas of wildflowers, hazelnut, pepper and chalk), Mastroberardino‘s Fiano di Avellino “Radici” DOCG (with scents of acacia blossoms, pear, pineapple, hazelnut, honey and minerals) or Feudi di San Gregorio‘s Fiano di Avellino “Pietracalda” DOCG (with aromas of wildflowers, apple, citrus, hazelnut, chestnut and chalk). Even in this case, note that all wines that we recommended above are entirely varietal, and therefore made out of 100% Fiano grapes.

As always, leave a comment and let me know your impressions if you have enjoyed any of these wines or if you wish to suggest another wine that could pair well with Francesca’s pumpkin soup!