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Canberra Today 4°/9° | Saturday, April 13, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

The local fiano that punches above its weight 

Peter and Cath Mullany… growers of  the fiano used in the Collector wine, which was grown on deep red granitic loam near Wombat in the Hilltops region of NSW. Photo: Hilltops Wine.

“The Collector fiano was perfect to drink on a hot day: crisp, textural and with an element of preserved lemon. It is not a low-alcohol wine with a nudge above 13 per cent alcohol by volume, so water and more water was required,” writes wine columnist RICHARD CALVER.

The last time I wrote about fiano wine was in 2016, eight years ago. So, it’s obviously not my favourite. 

Richard Calver.

But it was a hot day and we were sitting outside Cork & Glass at the Yarralumla Shops, a place that was constructed on the old Yarralumla Post Office site. 

It is a specialist bottle shop as well as delicatessen and bar that is independently owned – and that’s great because it’s not dominated by a big supermarket chain. 

Occasionally I pop in post-tennis with one or more of my tennis companions to have a glass of wine, maybe a shared bottle, sometimes with a cheese and charcuterie plate and it’s a great way to unwind after running around the courts. Plenty of water is obligatory, as is pacing yourself following exercise. 

It wasn’t a day for red wine, it was too hot. I didn’t choose a chardonnay because some people have negative preconceived notions about that varietal. I wanted something local but didn’t want a riesling. 

Staring out at me from the cold white wine cabinet was a range of Collector Wines, including the award-winning Tiger, Tiger chardonnay and I nearly pounced. But sitting beside the Tiger, Tiger was a Collector Summer Swarm Fiano 2023. It was a good price, $28, and it seemed to suit the weather conditions: white, bright, maybe a hint of sweetness.

The Collector label name is obviously a take on the origin of this varietal which comes 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”).

Hence, it seems, a reference to the name a “swarm”. The Collector website tells me that the fiano used in the Collector wine in 2022 was grown by Peter Mullany and family on deep red granitic loam near Wombat in the Hilltops region of NSW. The 2023 label says the grapes originate from Gundagai/Hilltops.

The last time I’d tried fiano, I was not liking the waxy texture or the heavy hint of pear on the finish. Since that time, I’ve learned that fiano can cover a broad range of tastes depending on the growing conditions. These can range from high minerality to lush, honeyed flavours, close to the Italian idea of sweet enough for the bees. 

The Collector fiano was perfect to drink on a hot day: crisp, textural and with an element of preserved lemon. It is not a low-alcohol wine with a nudge above 13 per cent alcohol by volume, so water and more water was required so we keep to the bounds of sobriety.

I discussed the wine with the friendly general manager of Cork & Glass, Robbie O’Dea and he said: “Alex McKay, who started Collector in the early 2000s, really knows how to make wines, especially Italian varietals.

“He outperforms the Italians. The fiano is a good example. It ranks against the Italian wines, a local punching above its weight.” 

Which reminds me of the joke about a groom punching above his weight per this extract from a best man’s speech: “I’ve just got some last messages here to read out, one from Greg’s football team to Jacqui: ‘Apologies we couldn’t all be there today, good luck with Greg, we found him to be useless in most positions, but wishing you all the best for tonight’.”

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Richard Calver

Richard Calver

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