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The 2011 Antonio Caggiano FiaGre makes a spectacular appearance. Radiant with the color of the Campanian sun, it shines forth from the glass with the best attributes of Campania’s two finest white grapes: Fiano and Greco. Why more producers haven’t thought to put these outstanding grape varieties together is surprising. But what may be even more puzzling is why such a blend is not entitled to DOC or DOCG status (another example of the shortsightedness inherent in Italy’s DOC system, whereby varietal bottling is given preference over blends, even when the blends are often more complex and expensive than single varietals). No matter, enjoy FiaGre’s thoroughly captivating bouquet, which is as alluring as the scent of the sea and as fresh as a splash of sea spray. Add in hints of acacia flower, clove, and quince and it will be difficult to take your nose out of a glass of FiaGre. Yet, the best is yet to come. Caggiano’s 2011 FiaGre explodes in the mouth with the brisk flavors we found so mesmerizing in its bouquet. Clean, long flavors fill the mouth and tingle on the tongue, before exiting with a flourish. Enjoy this captivating Campanian specialty moderately chilled (40°-45° F).
We can think of no better accompaniments to Antonio Caggiano’s 2011 FiaGre than the fruits of the sea. Clams, oysters, scallops and shrimp all pair splendidly, individually and collectively, with FiaGre. Consequently, one of our favorite pairings with this wine is a bouillabaisse in which cod, rock fish, scallops, and shrimp all make their appearance. And because of FiaGre’s extroverted personality, no flavorful bouillabaisse should ever overpower this wine. Cioppino, Italy’s tomato laced rendition of bouillabaisse offers considerable pleasure with FiaGre as well. Maryland style crab cakes provide another excellent pairing. And for those who prefer something other than seafood, we suggest Caprese Salad – fresh tomatoes, basil, and Mozzarella cheese drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Poultry, veal, and creamy pastas and risottos make welcome companions to Caggiano’s FiaGre, too. Buon Appetito!
By Italian standards Caggiano is a new winery, having been established commercially in 1994. Yet, Antonio Caggiano’s wine experience hardly began with the opening of his winery two decades ago. Antonio is from an old rural family who always made wine as a hobby and for personal consumption. Today, Antonio Caggiano is one of the most highly acclaimed producers of the Campania’s three most distinguished wines, Taurasi, Fiano di Avellino, and Greco di Tufo. He also fashions limited quantities of Falanghina and other Campanian specialties from a total of 44 acres of vines. Perhaps his most intriguing wine is FiaGre, a blend of Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino. All of Caggiano’s wines are limited productions and are vinified in the estate’s new modern cellar that was completed in 2006.
One of our fondest memories of Italy is a dinner we shared some years ago with Antonio Caggiano and several other Campanian winemakers at a seaside restaurant along Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Caggiano’s delightful wines left an indelible mark upon our palates for their freshness and purity. We are happy to report years later that as much as change is part of life, some things remain the same and get even better. Caggiano’s wines are in fact better than ever.
Italy’s Campania retains the allure and magic of ancient mythology. From the mystifyingly beautiful Amalfi Coast that still manages to conjure visions of gods and sirens, pleasure and lore, to the volcanic, fog shrouded spine of the Appenines that bisect the Italian peninsula, the Campania never fails to enchant. Known to the Romans as the Campania Felix, meaning the “joyous country” or the “face with an open smile,” the Campania is the ancient province of the Roman Empire that sits just south of Rome and neighboring Latium. As its name implies, this region produces friendly, gregarious wines in addition to an abundance of high quality produce.
At the height of the Roman Empire, the Campania served as the granary of Rome, supplying sustenance to the capital and provisions to the legions of soldiers and magistrates who administered an empire. Today, Campania continues the tradition by furnishing Rome and Naples with a host of culinary delights, most notably fresh, delicious fruit, vegetables, and of course wine. And although Campania languished for more than a century from the deleterious effects of war, political neglect, and phylloxera, it has in the past few decades witnessed a real renaissance in its wine industry. Specifically, Campania has re-focused its attention on its traditional assets: a host of premium grape varieties, both indigenous and transplanted, such as Aglianico, Piedirosso, Falanghina, Greco di Tufo, and Fiano di Avellino to name just a few.
Three of Campania’s wines merit DOCG status: Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, and Taurasi, more than any other region of southern Italy. They are all born on the hills between Benevento and Avellino, and not surprisingly many of the region’s finest wineries produce all three. Taurasi is made from Aglianico, the highly flavorful red variety the Greeks brought to southern Italy more than 2,500 years ago. In the past century, it has again emerged as one of Italy’s greatest red grapes, yielding staggeringly rich wines of depth, power, and age ability. In the Taurasi, Aglianico can match the finest red wines made anywhere in Italy, including the best wines of Tuscany and Piedmont. And what could be more exemplary of the good nature and open character of the land and people of the Campania than the region’s fabulous white wines, Greco di Tufo and Fiano Di Avellino? In past three decades Greco di Tufo and Fiano Di Avellino have re-claimed their rightful places among the finest white wines in the world, and the list goes on. So no matter if red or white wine is your preference, the wines of Campania are sure to put a smile on your face.
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