Feudi di San Gregorio Fiano di Avellino (Campania, Italy) 2008 ($20, Palm Bay International): Ever since the 1970s, Italy has been tremendously successful in making clean, fresh, food-friendly white wines that are popular with wine drinkers, even though wine professionals deride their lack of flavor. Fortunately, such wines tell only half the story of Italian white wine today. At the opposite end of the spectrum are high-quality, individualistic, flavorful whites. The region of Campania on Italy’s southwest coast lays claim to several of these wines.
Within Campania, the Feudi di San Gregorio winery -- often referred to simply as “Feudi” -- is the market leader. Although fairly new, having been established only in 1986, the winery has built a fine reputation for both its white and red wines from native grape varieties, but especially its whites. The richness and intensity of the Feudi white wines have redefined the potential for local varieties such as Fiano, Greco and Falanghina. In very recent vintages, Feudi’s progress has continued with a new emphasis on refinement more than power.
Frankly, I could have chosen any of Feudi’s three main white wines to review here: the 2008 Greco di Tufo DOCG, 2008 Falanghina Sannio DOC or 2008 Fiano di Avellino DOCG. The issue is personal taste more than any significant quality differential. The Greco di Tufo ($20) is a satisfying, full-bodied, earthy white whose style I find not the most ideal in the depths of summer. The Falanghina ($16) is a beauty, with peachy, citrus and floral aromas and flavors, and more crispness than I have ever found in a Feudi Falanghina. But the Fiano di Avellino is the classic, made from Campania’s finest white grape.
Fiano is a fairly low-yielding variety with high acidity, typically about 7 to 8 grams per liter, and it ripens late, sometimes being harvested in December. It can age very well in good vintages, its typical hazelnut and fruit flavors deepening over time.
The 2008 Feudi di San Gregorio Fiano di Avellino is a full-bodied white whose weight and richness might lead you to think that it has spent time in wood, despite its lack of oaky flavor. In fact, the wine is made entirely in stainless steel; it is the grapes and not the winemaking that give the wine its considerable character. The wine’s aroma is fresh and penetrating, with notes of ripe citrus, apple and peach, as well as floral and definite mineral notes. The wine is bone dry and crisp but has lots of weight; silky texture; and a broad note of minerality that balances the depth created by the high acidity. Nutty, fruity and honeyed flavors have good concentration in your mouth. The wine has higher quality and far more character than is typical for a $20 price tag.
This wine is a marvel on the table because of the yin-yang nature of its acidity and richness. It can accompany delicate fish dishes, savory Asian ginger-soy sauces, spicy tomato sauces, pork sausages, and chicken dishes, for example. Because of its freshness, it’s not the best choice for earthy mushroom or bean dishes -- it provides too stark a contrast. But it’s wonderful with hard and medium-soft cheeses. And in general!