Importers and the wines from Irpinia (Italy)

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There is a big admiration for the wine producers from Irpinia  who share a passion for wine, a passion passed on by their parents, as their parents, in turn had passed it on to them, inevitably perhaps as wine has been produced at Paternopoli for more than 2000 years. Paternopoli is situated at the heart of Irpinia in the centre of the Taurasi region.

Irpinia is a mountainous zone of Campania, the region of Naples, 700 meters (2,200 feet) above sea level, is home to the red wine Aglianico IGT and Taurasi DOCG, as well as the Greco di Tufo DOCG , and  Fiano  di  Avellino  DOCG.

One of the great things about southern Italian wines is that they reflect what they’re grown in. They have unique flavour profile due to the volcanic soil the vines are grown in. Because of the Campania’s volcanic history, the soil is left rich with minerals, sulfur, chalk and iron. The combination of acid, tannins and minerality gives campanian wine a unique edge. From the vine to the bottle, passing trough the hands of people who know how to treat first – rate grapes and wines of great personality.

It is no wonder that the Avellino-Rocchetta Sant’Antonio Railroad used to be called ‘Ferrovia del Vino’, or the wine train, given Irpinia’s significant role in the viticultural heritage of southern Italy’s Campania region. Scattered with vineyards, the province of Avellino is home to the internationally renowned and country’s shining stars, Greco di Tufo, Taurasi, and Fiano di Avellino DOCG  appellations.

The Region of Campania is well established on tourist maps but, curiously, not on those of wine lovers. Yet these noble and mellow hills have long presented the world with superb products, many of them derived from Ancient Greek grape varietals: little-known “blockbuster” reds and fragrant, delicate whites. The names Greco, a white varietal, and Aglianico, both mean “Greek”, the latter deriving from hellenic. The Roman naturalist and historian Pliny the Elder (23-79 A.D.) described both of these grapes in his Encyclopedia.

The most common, and likely also the oldest white grape in Irpinia is the Greco. It was probably brought from the Greek region of Thessaly by the Pelasgians. Equally common is the Fiano, called Vitis Apiana, or bee vine by the Romans, because its sweetness attracted many bees.

The most common red grape, on the other hand is the Aglianico which is used to produce Taurasi wine. Aglianico was brought here by the Greeks at the time of the foundation of Cuma and later spread to most of southern Italy. The same grape can yield very different wines depending on where it is grown and Irpinia offers one of the best habitats for the growth of Aglianico grapes.

These three great vines are the root of Irpinia’s three DOCGs, as well as the basis of Irpinia DOC. There are other native varieties that are equally ancient but less well known. The Coda di Volpe, Falanghina, Piedirosso and Sciascinoso are among them, and new vinification techniques have allowed these vines to emerge and compliment the best known array of Irpinia DOC wines, with their own quality products.