Colli di Lapio is a small, family-owned winery that crafts what many critics have dubbed "the finest wine of Fiano di Avellino." Run with expert care and supreme dedication by the youthful Clelia Romano and her family, Colli di Lapio comprises a mere 6 hectares (or a little more than 13 acres). The winery, adjacent to the property's superbly tended vineyards, is modern and clean but no bigger than a large garage. One has to wonder how Clelia and the estate's winemaker, Angelo Pizzi, can even turn around in the place during harvest time, as there is not a single centimeter of space to spare. However, judging from the quality of this estate's flagship Fiano di Avellino, neither worries about such trivial matters, nor should we. What ends up in the bottle is ultimately what matters, and Colli di Lapio's Fiano di Avellino is certainly one of southern Italy's finest white wines. Needless to say, production at Colli di Lapio is miniscule – only 100 cases of their Fiano di Avellino even make it to the United States.
In addition to fashioning Fiano di Avellino's most lauded white wine from estate vineyards, Colli di Lapio also crafts two very fine red wines from nearby appellations: Irpinia Aglianico "Donna Chiara" and Taurasi "Vigna Andrea." Both wines reflect the nobility of Aglianico, the quintessential red varietal of southern Italy. The Greeks planted Aglianico in southern Italy around 700 B.C. when much of the Italian peninsula and Sicily were part of Magna Graecia. The name Aglianico itself is an Italianate distortion of Hellenico, meaning Greek. Aglianico is a superb varietal, perfectly suited to Italy's Campania, most especially the appellation of Taurasi and the surrounding province of Irpinia, both of which lie in the mountains just west of the Amalfi Coast. In the Campania, once known as the granary of Rome, Aglianico produces a truly superb red wine, complex and deep, that is the equal of any in Italy, including the renowned Nebbiolo wines of Barolo and Barbaresco fame.
Fiano di Avellino
Fiano is one of the two noblest white grapes of southern Italy. The finest examples of Fiano typically hail from the environs of the ancient Campania town of Avellino; hence, the name of the D.O.C.G. contains both the varietal name and its generic origin – Fiano di Avellino. Fiano has been grown in and around Avellino for more than two millennia. This noble grape variety is believed to have been brought to the Italian peninsula by the Greeks more than 2,500 years ago. Fiano's reputation is both long and illustrious: its forebears are reputed to have been the favorite libation of Roman elite vacationing along the Amalfi Coast. Apparently, not much has changed in two thousand years.
Today, Fiano continues to woo adherents as it produces an exceptional wine of pale golden color and remarkable aroma, flavor, and texture. It is also the rare southern Italian white wine that can not only withstand several years of aging in bottle, it actually requires a few years of bottle age to be at its best. It is fermented in stainless steel or ceramic and bottled after about six months. Fiano di Avellino is rarely if ever barrel aged. Most notable Fiano wines will see an additional six months in bottle before release, which means Fiano will rarely be for sale before its first birthday.