Wine / A new word to rhyme with piano

“The next moment was one that three of my friends and I could rarely anticipate, a social invitation from me to taste these two bottles of wine…,” writes wine columnist RICHARD CALVER

I START with a confession. I’m a member of a wine club. Not the AA, things haven’t gone that far yet (they do such good work) but a commercially based club that offers wine that is often well priced and novel.

Richard Calver.

Richard Calver.

They had an offer where 12 whites from McLaren Vale came with two bottles of a varietal that was completely new to me: Fiano.

The Coriole website tells me that this grape variety originates from the province of Avellino in the Campania region east of Naples. So my superb powers of deduction tell me that this is an Italian grape variety. Apparently, Fiano takes its name from the Latin vitis apiana, as the grapes were so sweet they proved to be irresistible to bees (“api”). Makes the api ‘appy yet produces a dry wine. And, of course, now poets have a word that rhymes with piano.

Anyway, I bought the dozen mixed whites from the McLaren Vale and received the two bottles of Fiano as a bonus. One of the varietals (that’s a wine made principally from the grape variety shown on the label) is made by Coriole Vineyards, a 2015 and a 2016 by a winery I hadn’t come across before, Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards.

The “special offer” (no steak knives) said that the two bottles were worth $49. So that’s the first thing I checked. Two sites had the Coriole at $24. One site had the Oliver’s at $25 as did the winery’s order form for getting the wine direct by the bottle: it was cheaper if you bought six or more. So the representation was proven true. This is a good start, especially in the art of waging war on your taste buds. As Sun Tzu in “The Art of War” said: “Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment – that which they cannot anticipate.”

Bottles of Fiano... takes its name from the Latin vitis apiana, as the grapes were so sweet they proved to be irresistible to bees ("api").

Bottles of Fiano… takes its name from the Latin vitis apiana, as the grapes were so sweet they proved to be irresistible to bees (“api”).featured

And so the next moment was one that three of my friends and I could rarely anticipate, a social invitation from me to taste these two bottles of wine, no cover charge, no contribution, except their opinions, required. There was even bread, cheese and spicy aubergine pickle to make it an occasion.

The friends were asked to just tell me if they liked the wine, if so why and which one of the two Fianos they preferred and why. We also discussed whether we would buy the wine at the known-to-be-accurate prices. Opinion was equally divided: two of us preferred the Coriole with its lighter quality and a citrus finish, a hint of lime. The two who preferred the Coriole didn’t believe Fiano would be our wine of choice both preferring different wine varieties. There was more enthusiasm from the other two for both the Oliver’s brand and the grape variety generally. They both said the Oliver’s had more depth of flavour than the Coriole with a more viscous, mouth-filling taste. The comment from the oldest of the tasters was true to his age and attitude: “I’m an old fart and my taste buds are fading; this one is a better effort.”

Both the wines got added appeal when the swigging was accompanied by food. Both brands complemented the blue cheese and camembert by cutting through the fattiness. The cost of the Fiano was considered by the pro-Oliver drinkers to be good value for money and they would put their money where their mouths were to purchase some. And we looked at each other in amazement, not making judgements about how our tastes differed but reflecting on the remarkable diversity something as simple as trying a new grape variety can uncover.

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