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Going Deeper Into the South
From Taormina Gourmet to Campania’s Fiano maestro Roberto di Meo
As late fall pushes into winter in northern Italy – the creeping fog, the interiors chilled by wartime fuel prices and warmed by plates of ravioli or pumpkin tortelloni – it is hard to imagine that about three weeks ago I was swimming in the Ionian Sea at 9 a.m. off Taormina.
I was in Sicily for Taormina Gourmet, Chronache di Gusto’s all-things-Italian-food-and-wine conference and fair where among other things I led a masterclass on the renaissance of Southern wines from my book South of Somewhere: Wine, Food and the Soul of Italy (aka in Italian: Altrove a Sud).
What a soul filling joy to climb up down and up those Taormina cliffs in the morning, to dine al fresco with friends from the Italian wine world in the evening, and to slurp almond granitas at the Bam Bar during afternoon breaks.
This late summer and fall I spent a good amount of time south of Rome going deeper into southern terroirs, and in Campania I had the pleasure to spend a morning with Roberto di Meo – a true southern gentleman and eccentric who pushes the aging of his expressive Fianos and other white wines to the limit.
How much age are we talking about?
This year he released his 2013 Erminia Di Meo Fiano di Avellini, while its 1993 version remains in tank in cellar not yet ready for release according to Di Meo who adds: “It was a beautiful year!”
Whites are Italian wines’ secret weapon with a lot left to be discovered. Fiano for me is the quintessential southern white with depth and layers that only reveal themselves with time – like the south itself. Di Meo is taking it to the limit.