Photo: Serafino's Maria Maglieri
An Australian wine tasting is the last place where one would
expect to taste white wines made with Fiano and Vermentino, two Italian
Yet there were examples of both at the Vancouver
International Wine Festival this year, where Australian wine was the theme and Shiraz (of course) was
the featured grape.
The explanation is simple. Along with much of the new world,
Australia over the years has
attracted immigrants from Italy.
The Italians can’t help themselves: whenever they settle in a salubrious
climate, they grow grapes and make wine.
The 2013 Bellisimo Fiano on the festival’s tasting room
floor is produced by Serafino Wines, a McLaren Valle winery run by the Maglieri.
Maria Maglieri, the chief executive, related that her grandfather Giovanni
migrated to Australia
in 1958. He and his son, Serafino (now called Steve), who came a few years
later, began developing a McLaren Vale vineyard in planted grapes in 1968.
“They were turned down by Canada,” Maria told me as I tasted
loss was Australia’s
gain. Maglieri Wines ultimately became a very successful wine business, largely
because the family decided to copy the style of Italy’s sweet red wine, Lambrusco.
The wine became one of the top sellers in Australia. In 1999 the Maglieri
family was clever enough to cash out, selling the business to Beringer Blass,
one of the wine conglomerates then gobbling up other producers at top of market
The sale included the Maglieri name. However, the family had
retained prime vineyards and soon were back in business as Serafino Wines.
Serafino’s portfolio includes the varietals for which
McLaren Vale is well known: Shiraz,
Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Chardonnay. Several were on sale in the BC
Liquor store at the festival and, hopefully, will subsequently be listed in the
BCLDB or in private wine stores.
The winery has added an extensive range of Italian
varietals, including Lagrein, Nebbiolo, Primitivo, Sangiovese, Vermentino,
Pinot Grigio, Moscato and Fiano.
of course, is replete with indigenous varieties seldom grown elsewhere. Never
having heard of Fiano, I turned to Wine
Grapes, the fat and definitive volume released a few years ago by Jancis
Robinson and colleagues.
is an old variety from Campania in southern Italy whose presence near Foggia was mentioned as early as 1240 in a
register of purchases by Emperor Frederick II,” the book says. “The name Fiano is said to derive from a
place named in Appia … where the grape supposedly has its origin.”
was widely grown until phylloxera arrived in Southern
in the early 20th
Century and decimated the
plantings. The variety was revived in the 1970s by renowned Taurasi winemaker
Antonio Mastroberardino. The Italian vine census in 2000 counted just under
has more recently found favour in Australia
with growers looking for
varieties that withstand the heat,” the Robinson book says. “There now are at
least 10 producers who claim to have the variety planted, including Jeffrey
Grosset in the Clare
planted its Fiano in 2011. The 2013 vintage poured at the festival may have
been the debut wine. It is a crisply refreshing white, tasting of honeydew
melons and apples.
fires my interest in tasting other examples. Currently, the BCLDB lists two
Fiano wines from Italy:
Acante Fiano at $14.99 and Miopasso Fiano at $16.99.