Naples is regarded as Italy's "ungovernable wild child", and exploring the city by foot is one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. The city is synonymous with its famous neapolitan style pizza, but truth be told the real magic about Naples is seafood. Sitting on the Mediterranean coast it's ominously situated just west of Mt Vesuvius.
The volcanic soils around the towering Vesuvius, and east into Avellino, are home to two white varieties, Fiano and Greco. Both perfectly match with the ultra-fresh fare in Naples's spectacular and understated restaurants. There are larger (and very good) producers whose names litter every wine list, but there's one name that's developed a smaller cultish following. A name that's without a doubt the first stop on any Greco di Tufo and Fiano tour.
Ciro Picarielo's small production comes equally from parcels in Montefredane (1,600 feet above sea level) and Summonte (2,100 feet). The secret to Ciro's success comes from fastidious vineyard work of course, but also with a very keen eye in the cellar. He's exacting on the most minute details from pressing cycles for the different plots to undisturbed aging on the wines's fine lees. He only uses native yeasts, something more commercial wineries in Campania view as risky. Ciro's able to perfect the natural approach because he's completely dialed into every element of the small production - something larger brands would simply struggle to accomplish with regularity.
The wines really impress in how they speak to the more natural and wild side of Campania's unique terroir. They're honest and expressive. And with time, in bottle and in glass, they unfold a multitude of layers. Greco shows the more citrus and melon notes with volcanic minerality. It ages well, putting on weight with notes of orange blossom developing.
Fiano speaks more of apple, peach, almost, and a flinty mineral quality. With time Fiano ages similarly to Loire Chenin Blanc, revealing honey, beeswax, and lavender notes. It's one of the most age-worthy whites in Italy, and we went all-in on Ciro's top Fiano bottling the "906" which comes from the highest elevation plantings and sees an extra year aging on its fine lees.
2015 Ciro Picarielo Greco di Tufo
$24 per bottle.
2012 Ciro Picarielo Fiano di Avellino "Ciro 906"
$35 per bottle.
2013 Ciro Picarielo Fiano di Avellino "Ciro 906"
$35 per bottle.
4-pack of Ciro Picarielo Fiano di Avellino "Ciro 906"
(2 bottles of each 2012 and 2013)
Regularly $140, down to $129!