Irpinia is an appellation in the Campania region of southern Italy. It lies in the northeast of Avellino province, in the lower reaches of the Apennine mountains. It gained DOC status in 2005. The ancient white Greco and Fiano, and red Aglianico are the key grape varieties for the zone's wine production.
These are responsible for Campania's three DOCGs as well as Irpinia DOC wines. Coda di Volpe, Falanghina, Piedirosso (locally know as Per'e Palummo) and Sciascinoso (also known as Olivella) varieties also perform well here. New and improved vinification techniques have allowed these lesser known grapes to really shine.
The Avellino to Rocchetta Sant'Antonio Railroad, which ran through Irpinia, was once called Ferrovia del Vino (the wine train). The region is also home to the internationally renowned Greco di Tufo, Taurasi and Fiano di Avellino DOCGs.
Like many of Campania's leading wine zones, Irpinia was also given a boost by the esteemed winemaker Antonio Mastroberardino. He proved that combining traditional methods with dynamic and modern techniques could create wines with real finesse. Irpinia is also home to what is probably the other leading Campanian producer, Feudi di San Gregorio.
The area's star status is also a result of the ideal vine-growing environment and consequent high-quality grapes. This is thanks to a combination of high altitude slopes, volcanic and lime/clay soils, long growing seasons and diurnal temperature variations.
Wines produced under the Irpinia DOC start with a bianco (also made as a spumante). The blend must comprise 40-50 percent of each of Greco and Fiano. Up to 20 percent of other grape varieties is permitted. The rosso (also made as a novello) and the rosato require a minimum 70 percent Aglianico. Again, various red varieties are allowed for the remainder.
A selection of varietal wines are also permitted. All of these must contain a minimum of 85 percent of the respective variety. The remaining maximum 15 percent can be made up of other permitted varieties of the same colour.
Aglianico, Coda di Volpe, Falanghina, Fiano, Greco and Sciascinoso are the designated varieties. Depending on which one is used, spumante, passito or (for Aglianico) liquoroso styles may be allowed.