After a big
Italian Sicilian* tasting, I’m back to Australia, but with an Italian varietal. It’s the Scott Fiano 2011 of the Adelaide Hills. This is very much a small world experience for me, in that this wine was brought to a party at our house this past weekend and while it sounded familiar, I didn’t really know the producer. It turns out the Scott winery and cellar door are right around the corner from the winery in which I’ve worked a few vintages. I will have to swing by next time I’m up that way.
I’ve featured wines from the Adelaide Hills three times – a Pinot Noir, a Chardonnay, and a Pinot Noir / Chardonnay sparkler. While the region as a whole is considered cool and elevated by Australian standards, it’s not quite the Mosel, and people have been having success with many, many different varietals. Pinot Grigio is especially popular there at the moment, with Scott in particular doing a sparkler, while others make both normal and late harvest versions of it in it’s less bubbly form. Sauvignon Blanc has long been a favourite from the region, but if you turn over a few rocks, you can find producers making Dolcetto, Aglianico, Malbec, Sagrantino, Nebbiolo, Tannat, Grillo, and Vermentino. I could probably get pretty close to a century just in the Adelaide Hills, but really where’s the fun in that?
Fiano is a strongly flavoured grape variety which is most widely grown in the south of Italy. Historically it is thought to possibly originated with Greek settlers, and that it was the grape vitis apiana used in the Roman wine Apianum produced in the vicinity of Avellino. The root of apiana is the Latin for bees, which are strongly attracted to Fiano grapes in those vineyards. More recently, Fiano di Avellino DOCG is the most famous made from Fiano, and “apianum” is often seen on bottles of the region. It can be found in over a dozen other DOC regions, though more often than not as a contributing grape in a blend instead of as a varietal or the major component. It’s not widely seen outside of Italy, with of course Australia being the exception.
Fiano is a thick skinned grape with small berries and typically low yields, and has therefore not always been the most popular among producers. The wine it produces can smell of honey and pears when young, but is capable of ageing and the young fruit gives way to spicy and nutty characters with development.
I wish I had more information about Scott Winemaking, but I may be able to string together a few guesses based on the single page of information on the website. Given the location, it’s a small producer, possibly a single winemaker named Sam. He lists four wines including this one, with the others being a Shiraz Sangiovese blend, a classic sparkling wine blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, and a sparkling Pinot Grigio. I hope to update this if I get to meet the producer.
This wine lives up to expectations as far at Fiano. It’s certainly very modern in that it has the colour that the industry demands of a young white. The nose is clean, with fresh pear, cinnamon, and a hint of honey. I had some perry over the weekend and it came right back to me. On the palate it’s very crisp with good acidity. The flavours match what was promised on the nose, along with slightly spicier notes and a hint of nuttiness, though I did have a fair number of toasted pine nuts with dinner so they may be sticking on my palate. I would have put this at around $25 retail and it appears that’s pretty spot on. It’s a very good wine, quite right at that price, though frankly I’m willing to pay a premium for the rare or exotic which I think this is. I know it’s not the only South Australian Fiano so I’m hoping that the others live up to the quality level set by this one.
*My favourite place in the world to drink martinis is Dukes Hotel in London. Their bar is staffed exclusively by Italians, or so I thought. I asked an older barman if everyone who worked there was Italian and he said “No, everyone else is Italian. I am Sicilian.” So there you have it.