Category Archives: Australian Fiano

Oct 10 2019

Fiano: Australia’s best alternative white wine?

Posted on October 10, 2019 | By

Wine critic Huon Hooke recently named the Chalmers Fiano 2017 as his Wine of the Week in The Real Review. He describes the wine as having a bouquet that “opens with smoky matchstick overtones and nutty, toasted-cashew aromas, while lemony fruit and honeyed overtones emerge in time.”

Hooke’s description of the wine’s nut-like aromas is not surprising given that Italy’s best vineyards are located in hazelnut plantations in Fiano’s home turf of Avellino in the Campania region east of Naples.

Fiano has quite a storied history in Italy. It was likely the main variety in a wine the Ancient Romans called Apianum, based on the Latin word for bees, Apiana. In the vineyards around Avellino, the sugary pulp of the Fiano grape attract swarms of bees – a big plus for the environment given growing alarm around the world about declining bee numbers.

Interestingly, Australian winemaker interest in Fiano coincided with a revival in Italy of the cultivation of the grape. The variety only gained official recognition in Italy as “Fiano di Avellino DOC” in 2003. McLaren Vale’s Coriole released Australia’s first Fiano in 2005 and the variety is now the largest growing whites category in McLaren Vale.

Fortunately, Fiano responds well to different climatic conditions and doesn’t lose its acidity under hot climatic conditions. The coolish climate of Chalmer’s Heathcote vineyard gives the wine an excellent depth of flavour and the naturally high level of acidity serves as a counterbalance to the bees-waxy texture of the variety, ensuring that the wine retains its freshness and crispness while still having excellent palate length.

Coriole continues to make an award-winning Fiano. Its 2017 vintage won Best White Wine at the McLaren Vale Wine Show 2017. Other top producers include Bendigo’s Sutton Grange and Clare Valley’s Grosset. Grosset’s Apiano Fiano is a … Read the rest

Apr 04 2015

New Wave of Italian grape varieties capture Australian winemaker interest

Posted on April 04, 2015 | By

Climate change, weak export markets and increasingly worldly local consumers are all trends that have conspired over the past decade to create growing interest from Australian producers in alternative grape varieties.

Having achieved great success with the noble Italian varieties of sangiovese and nebbiolo, rustic Italian varieties from the southern Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily, for example, are beginning to win favour with smaller producers in particular.

In a recent series of articles on Italian varieties in Australia, Walter Speller of reported that South Australia’s McLaren Vale has become the epicentre of enthusiasm for Italian varieties, noting that McLaren Vale plantings of nero d’avalo, the prized indigenous red grape of Sicily, are spreading like wildfire. (Italian Grape Varieties in Australia – Part 2 by Walter Speller,, 24 February 2015)

McLaren Vale’s Coriole, Beach Road, Brash Higgins, Fallen Women, and Hither & Yon are starting to win high praise for their expressions of nero d’avola. The Hither & Yon Nero d’Avola 2014, made from a hectare six year old vines planted by Richard and Malcolm Leask, won best Italian Red Wine Variety at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show. The Wine Front’s Gary Walsh described it as “Bursting with ripe dark berries, raw almonds, fragrant and sweet dried herbs with a handful of black jelly beans tossed in for good measure.” (Wine Front, 12 November 2014)

White Italian varieties like the Campagna region’s  fiano and Sardinia’a vermentino are also popular in McLaren Vale. Oliver’s Taranga Fiano 2014 picked up Best White Wine and Best White Italian Variety at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show. Oliver’s Tarango winemaker Corrina Rayment believes these varieties hold up particularly well in McLaren Vale’s often harsh summers.

Ballandean Estate FianoWine critic James Halliday noted that of the … Read the rest