Ciro Picariello, Fiano di Avellino DOCG, 2012

An Age-Worthy White From A Relative Newcomer

“Does the marvelous strength of soul of the Campanian people, which permits them to support all the adversities of life with a song on the lips, come perhaps from the wines, superb and generous, fiery and ardent, of this volcanic soil?”


– Attributed to a “local writer”, The Food of Italy, Waverly Root, 1971


A region of astounding natural beauty, Campania is home to the glittering Amalfi Coast, majestic Mount Vesuvius and of course the Napolitani—the theatrical, vibrant citizens of the capital city Naples.


The Campanians have been practicing “farm, sea and wine-to-table” for centuries. The materia prima (raw ingredients) that one needs for a sumptuous summertime Italian feast are all right there in their backyard.


From the Tyrrhenian sea an abundance of seafood; from the volcanic soils east and south of Naples, the exceptional San Marzano tomato; from the hills of Avellino hazelnuts, almonds and the fiano grape.


The perfect wine to accompany a bountiful summertime feast of seafood, vegetables and pasta is our Sommelier’s Pick for August, the 2012, Fiano di Avellino, made by Ciro Picariello. A generous, lively white that entices you with the scents of citrus and flinty stone. On the palette there is a lively presence of acidity supported by notes of hazelnut, sage and smokey minerality imparted by the volcanic soil of Avellino.


The Fiano di Avellino region was given its DOCG (highest Italian wine classification) designation in 2003, and occupies the densely wooded hills that surround the town of Avellino, 30 miles northeast of Naples, in the foothills of the Appenine mountains. In order to qualify for this classification the wine must be made with at least 85% fiano, with the remaining 15% comprised of Coda di Volpe, Trebbiano, and/or Greco.


Producer Ciro Picariello is a relative newcomer to the area and is truly remarkable for his accelerated rise to prominence. In 1997 he and his wife established the winery, releasing their first vintage wine in 2004.


The seven hectares of Picariello vineyards are located in Montefredane (1,600 feet above sea level) and Summonte (2,100 feet above sea level). The cooler climate of the inland, elevated vineyards is ideal for fiano. It allows for Ciro to harvest his grapes at the end of October— relatively late in the season— when they have reached peak maturity.


Hand-harvested, the grapes are carefully sorted and pressed slowly. Only the juice from the first press goes into the Fiano di Avellino, ensuring a focused, intense expression of the varietal. The wine is then fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks where it remains to age for almost a year on its fine lees. After bottle aging for a few months, the wine is released.


This wine drinks beautifully upon release, but also is heralded by the professional wine community as an age-worthy white that can be cellared and enjoyed 10 to 15 years from now.


Unless you are reading this post from a beach chair on the Amalfi coast, please join us at Babbo for a perfect summertime repast of Scialatielle, Amalfi style thick pasta with shrimp, zucchini and Scamorza cheese and a quartino of Ciro Picariello, Fiano di Avellino, 2012.