From €13.90 a bottle and £90 for six
Housekeeping note: The observant among you might just have noticed that there was no wine of the week last Tuesday. From now on, our weekly special wine selections will be published on Fridays, something for the weekend.
At the recent tasting of wines from Italy's new association of top producers, the Istituto del Vino Italiano di Qualità - Grandi Marchi, put on for Masters of Wine in London (see full tasting notes in Italian heavyweights), one of the strongest performers was from well outside the conventional clusters of fine winemaking in Tuscany and Piemonte.
Mastroberardino in the hills due east of Naples in Campania showed three stunning reds carrying their flagship denomination Taurasi, but also the most extraordinary 10-year-old dry white that was absolutely delicious, still delightfully fresh, and, considering its age, surely seriously underpriced.
Mastroberardino make a less serious Fiano (as right), called Radici, and then release their top Fiano, More Maiorum, both young, and after many a long year in bottle. Our image shows the 2001, next up for release in Italy, but restaurant suppliers Casa Julia in the UK are only just moving on from the 1999. The 2000 will be £90 per box of six bottles including VAT. Both 1999 and 2000 are currently offered for direct sale from this page of www.mastroberardino.com at €13.90 a bottle.
The yellow-skinned Fiano grape is ancient (mentioned as early as 1240 in a list of Emperor Frederic II's purchases) and was almost extinct by the mid 20th century but the Mastroberardino family rescued it and propelled it into such a permanent, if slightly cultish, position that by the beginning of this century it had been embraced enthusiastically by growers from Sicily to McLaren Vale, South Australia, even if, admittedly, there are few in between these two wine regions.
It seems to thrive particularly will in the high-altitude province of Avellino where Mastroberardino's vineyards are located and to take on real character with age. Here is my tasting note taken at the Masters of Wine tasting:
Mastroberardino, More Maiorum 2000 Fiano di Avellino 17.5 Drink 2009-2012
Tangy. Really interesting. Smells of honey in an attic somehow. Slightly dusty but not old. Edgy and noble. An especially good vintage apparently. On sale in Italy too. Long, fine. Lovely acidity. Grown on clay limestone at 450 m above sea level. 13%
£148 per case of 12 Casa Julia (www.casajulia.co.uk)
I don't think there is any hurry to drink this, as indicated by my suggested drinking dates. And it deserves some pretty mild-flavoured food with it, perhaps with a note of salt. I could imagine it going well with a few shards of parmesan, or perhaps a little prosciutto.
To judge from Wine-searcher.com, this 2000 vintage is available in Italy while younger vintages are available in Italy, Belgium - and Russia.