So, I’ve been tricked.
It isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. I suppose this is what you get for being adventurous.
“Ah!” I thought: “An odd-looking bottle of white wine from Sicily. 13.5%. Under a tenner. This must be good.”
I suppose I was expecting something strong yet subtle: characterful, with perhaps a hint of nuttiness or toast. Probably a lot of oak, and almost definitely some complementary lactic and citrus flavours.
Of course, I didn’t know at this point that I’d accidentally bought Sicilian Sherry.
Dreadful stuff, on first taste. I was expecting a dry, oaky white with plenty of oomph – but not this. Where was the fruit? Where was the buttery toast? Where was my receipt?
Last time I had sherry – actual sherry, from Jerez – I ended up pouring most of it down the sink. This time I thought I’d better persevere with whatever it was I’d just spent £8 on and actually try and make some sense of it.
I mean, people don’t drink this stuff just for a joke, do they?
It was a gorgeous colour. Well, it looked a little like urine, but if you could put that out of your mind for a moment; let’s say amber. Sort of yellow gold, or even bronze: much deeper than most whites. Maybe even burnt honeycomb. Not like totally burnt, just burnt normally: just enough. Very leggy too. Massive legs.
The musty, almost pub-smoky aroma has all sorts of fascinating and sometimes contradictory things going on. Sometimes I went for a whiff and was reminded of early student days when you could still smoke in pubs: stale ales, Tia Maria and southern comfort chasers, cigar smoke, darts and ash trays. Not unpleasant smells, but not quite appetizing either. Other times I got a lot more fresh and goody hints, like almonds, dried bananas, sultanas and Christmassy mixed peel.
The flavor when I first tasted it was unexpectedly sour, possibly even bitter – an affront to my tongue’s expectant supplicancy. But on second and third attempts – knowing what I was letting myself in for – I began to warm to it. It’s very dry, quite woody, almost wheaty or beery – not much like what one thinks of as wine, if one drinks mainly of the big-name French and New World grapes like Chardonnay, Pinot and Sauvignon.
Sultanas again, on the tongue – never my favourite flavour, be it in Tokaj, Sherry or this Fiano stuff. But not horrible either: well integrated with the hints of wood, leather and – yes! that’s it: figs. This is a very figgy wine, if you can imagine such a thing. And yet dry as wood panelling.
A strange beast, all-in-all. Good, but not quite wine. Not in my book. If I gave someone this and told them it was wine I’d expect them to hand it back, questioning my judgement. Indeed it was not popular among those brave enough to try it. But I can imagine, being perhaps in a better mood than I was last time I tried such a thing, that with the right sorts of cheese it could be quite lovely.
Since writing this review I’ve looked at some others, and found – hilariously – the wine these other people are describing bears absolutely no resemblance to the wine I drank. But then again, how could they? They are reviewing a one-year-old wine. Mine, I have since noticed, was born a whopping 6 (six) years ago! Whether I’ve drunk this way past its sell-by date or it is indeed meant to be left for that long I have no idea. But I’d expect an overcellared white to be a lot blander than this. Maybe it actually had something wrong with it and I am not long for this world? Only time – and possibly a visit to the doctor’s – will tell…