Category Archives: Irpinia

Irpinia in NYC

Monday March 6th was a big day here in New York City for the province of Irpinia in Campania. In the morning there was a Master Class on the wines of Irpinia hosted by Susannah Gold at Il Gattopardo Restaurant called “Spectacular Irpinia.”  It was organized by the Irpinia Consorzio Tutela Vini.  Read about it here:  Irpinia White Wine  Irpinia Red Wine

ipinia 1That night, there was a second event called “GI Gruppo Italiano Presents: ItalianTable Talks/Chapter 16 Irpinia: We Are Waiting For You.”  It was held at the SVA Theater on 23rd Street. This included a discussion by a panel of experts on Irpinia followed by a wine tasting. It was organized by Gruppo Italiano (GI).

For a little background, the region of Campania in Southern Italy produces some of the country’s best wines.  Irpinia, in the northeast of Campania, excels in Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Irpinia Falanghina, Coda di Volpe, Piedirosso, Irpinia Aglianico, Campo Taurasini and Taurasi.  The Irpinia Consorzio Tutela Vino and the producers of these wines have recently made it a top priority to push more significantly into the US market.  Teresa Petillia, President of the Consorizio, and Ilaria Petitto, Vice President, have been in the forefront of this movement. Teresa is the CEO of Azienda Agricola Petillia and Ilaria is the CEO of Donnachiara Winery.  One of the goals of the day’s events was to familiarize the wine drinking public with Irpinia and make their excellent wines better known.


The host for the evening event was Gianfranco Sorrentino, President of Gruppo Italiano (GI) and managing partner of the Il Gattopardo Group.

Gianfranco introduced the Italian Trade Commissioner Antonio Laspina who set the tone for the evening with his opening remarks. He advised the region of Irpinia to do more by way of events such as the ones today and he expressed his appreciation that the province is behind the Consorzio’s ambitious push for more notoriety.


The panel was comprised of experts on the region of Irpinia included (left to right) Nunzio Castaldo, President of Panebianco Wine Imports, USA. Berardo Paradiso, President of the Italian American Committee on Education (IACE) and head of the New York SoHo Chapter of the Italian Academy of Cuisine, the panel moderator Randall Restiano, American Sommelier and Beverage Director of Eataly NYC Flatiron, Ferrante Di Somma, Managing Owner of Cantine di Marzo, Irpinia, Representing Consorzio Tutela d’Irpinia, and myself, Charles Scicolone, Wine and food writer, consultant and blogger at

Mr. Restiano posed some very pointed questions to the panel.  He asked what the panelists thought of the too often-quoted statement that “Taurasi is the Barolo of the South.” I have always taken exception to this because Taurasi stands on its own as a great wine and should not be compared to any other.  

I replied that the three great grapes of Italy are Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, and Aglianico.  The region of Irpinia has to be more positive in there approach to the region and the wines. The best Greco is Greco di Tufo, the best Fiano is Fiano di Avelliano and the best wine made from Aglianico is Taurasi.  There was general agreement on this issue among all of the panelist as well as the fact that events such as these were very valuable for the region and the Consorzio to achieve their goals.

The other topics the panel discussed were the marketing of the wines of Irpinia in the US, the history of the region and why one should visit  there. Mr. Ferrante Di Somma of Cantina di Marzo spoke about what it was like to own and operate a winery in Irpinia.

20230306_194319_resized                                                                      The producers, guests and panelists

IMG_9306                                    Each panelist was presented with a plaque acknowledging their participation.

                                                  After there was a tasting of wine tasting of he wines of Irpinia.

IMG_9117 2llaria Petitto with her Donnachiara Taurasi. I have visited the winery a few times.

IIMG_9065Irpinia Falanghina

IMG_9066Greco di Tufo



IMG_9089 2

The wine of wine of my fellow panelist Ferrante Di Somma

IMG_9073 2Fiano di Avelliano from Teresa Petilia-I visited the winery a few years ago


I visited Villa Raiano in 2019.

The above are just a few of the wines that I tasted. Hors d’oeuvres were supplied by Il Gattopardo Ristorante.

It was a great day for the province of Irpinia and their wines and I was honored to be chosen to speak.

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Irpinia Aglianico, Campo Taurasini & Taurasi

Last week I was invited to attend a masterclass on the wines of Irpinia at Il Gattopardo restaurant in NYC by the Irpinia Consorzio Tutela Vini.  Teresa Bruno Di Petilia, President, and Ilaria Petitto, the Vice President of the Conzorzio, were there.   They said the  goal of these events is to familiarize the wine drinking public with Irpinia and make their excellent wines better known.

The speaker was Susannah Gold of Vigneto Communications who did an excellent job of sharing her knowledge of the wines of Irpinia through her talk and slide presentation.  I wrote about the 6 white wines in a previous blog and this time I will deal with the 6 red wines.

Irpinia Aglianico

There are 3 biotypes of Aglianico: Taurasi, Vulture and Taburno.  Susannah pointed out the Aglianico has an uncle-nephew relationship to Syrah.

IMG_9280Aglianico is an ancient grape variety.  In Italy, Aglianico was first planted near modern day Pozzuoli and from there it spread to other parts of Campania. Pliny the Elder (d.79AD) wrote about it in his Natural History. The Aglianico grape prefers volcanic soil and grows at altitudes of 300 to 500 meters. Aglianico is also used as a blending grape in Campania. It is at its best in Irpinia.

IMG_9282Irpinia Aglianico was granted DOC in 2005. It must contain 85% Aglianico and 15% other red grapes.

 Irpinia Campi Taurasini is a sub region of the Irpinia DOC of central Campania.  The classification applies to wines made from the Aglianico grape on the Campi Taurasi, the Taurasian Fields. This territory is the same as Taurasi DOCG. Campi Taurasini means “little Taurasi fields.”  While Taurasi Riserva DOGG is aged for 3 years in oak barrels and can age for many years, the Taurasini spends just one year in oak before bottling. It is a wine that is made to be drunk young but still has aging potential. Irpinia Aglianico and Campi Taurasini in particular are less-full bodied, less structured and less expensive than Taurasi.

There are many who believe that the three great grape varieties in Italy are Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Aglianico. Wines made from the Aglianico grape are full-bodied with good fruit, tannins, and hints of blackberries, leather and smoke.

Irpinia Aglianico Wines

IMG_9091Nativ, Irpinia Aglianico “Rue Dell’Inchiostro” Campania Aglianico DOC, 2020 made from 100% Aglianico grown at 450 to 550 meters. There are 15 hectares of wine, the soil is mostly volcanic with clay and limestone, rich in minerals. There is a trellis training system with spurred cordon in the new vineyards.  Harvest is in the beginning of November.  There is a pre-soaking at a controlled temperature. Fermentation soaking with continuous pumping over and punching downpour for about 10 days. Fermentation starts with the addition of selected yeasts, malolactic fermentation takes place. Refining in steel silos. The wine ages in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red berries, cherry and a touch of  spice. The winery is located in Paternopoli.

IMG_9092Macchie Santa Maria, Irpinia Aglianico DOC, 2018 made from 15 year old vines at 400 to 450 meters. The training system is cordon. The soil is of a medium mixing tending toward stony clay. Exposure is southeast. Fermentation is 8 to 12 days in stainless steel tanks. Aging is for 12 months in French oak barriques. The wine has hints of black cherry, plum, spice and a hint of tobacco. The company is based in the town of Montemiletto

IMG_9279 2Ponterotto, Irpinia Aglianico DOC 2018 made from 100% Aglianico at 350 to 400 meters. The soil is clay and limestone and harvest is the first 10 days of November. Classic vinification in tanks, long maceration with the skins at a controlled temperature. The wine has hints of blackberries, spice with a touch of tobacco and a balsamic note.


IMG_9283Aglianico reaches its highest expression in the form of Taurasi, one of Italy’s great red wines, which can age for many years.

The Taurasi DOCG was formed in 1993 and was southern Italy’s first DOCG.  Taurasi  is a medieval city located within the larger Iripinia DOC and within the province of Avellino, Taurasi’s name comes from taurus, the mythical bull that was the symbol for the ancient Samnite (pre-Roman) occupants.

Taurasi DOCG and Taurasi Riserva DOCG by law must be 85% Aglianico but most producers make it with 100% Aglianico. Taurasi must age for 3 years before release and have a minimum of 12% alcohol. At least one of the 3 years must be in oak barrels. The Riserva must be aged for at least 4 years of which 18 months must be in oak barrels. 12.5% is the minimum alcohol.

There are 17 communes where Taurasi is produced and they cover different soils, vineyard altitudes and microclimates.

IMG_9098Ilaria Petitto CEO of Donnachiara Winery and Vice President of the Consorzio di Tutela dei Vini dell’Irpinia spoke about the winery and the wines. The winery is located in Montefalcione in the Irpinia area near Avellino. The modern winery was completed in 2005 but the vineyards have been in the family for over 150 years. Ilaria’s mother, Chiara Petitto, is a big supporter of her work in the winery, which is named after her mother’s grandmother whom everyone called “Donna” Chiara as a sign of respect.

IMG_9093Donnachiara, Taurasi DOCG 2019 Made from 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay and volcanic. Training system is guyot. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and harvest takes place the first week of September. The wine is aged for 12 months in 225-liter French barriques and remains in the bottle for another 24 months before release. The wine has hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and a touch of cacao. The use of barrique is subtle and does not mask the character of the wine. This is a big complex wine with berry aromas and flavors, hints of cherry, plum, and a touch of cacao and coffee.

IMG_9094Feudi Di San Gregorio Taurasi DOCG 2017 made from 100% Aglianico in uncontaminated volcanic soil. The vines are 20 to 25 years old. Vineyards are at 1,000 to 1,600 ft with a southern and western exposure. Soil is ash and fallen pumice and in the subsoil deep layers of silty sand. Harvest is manual. Fermentation and maceration is in stainless steel tanks, at a controlled temperature  for about 3 weeks. The wine is aged for about 18 months in medium toasted French barriques and 9 months in the bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise and more than a note of vanilla. The winery is in Sorbo Serpico.

IMG_9096Fratelli Addimanda Vignaioli in Taurasi “Starse” Taurasi DOCG 2014 made from 100% Aglianico. The vineyards are at 350 to 400 meters and the exposure is east-west. The soil is clay calcareous and the training system  is cordon speronato. There are 4,500 plants per hectare.  Manual harvest with a selection, is from the end of October to the beginning of September. There is another selection of grapes in the cellar. Fermentation with a long maceration of the skins for about 25 days. After malolactic fermentation the wine matures in barriques and tonneaux of new French oak for 14 to 18 months depending on the vintage. The wine has hints of red fruit, dried flowers, tobacco, liquorice, pepper and a note of vanilla.

After the tasting there was an excellent buffet prepared by Chef Vito  Il Gattopardo.

Next Time Gruppo Italiano Table Talks/ Chapter 16  Irpinia We are Waiting for You




Filed under Aglianico, Irpinia, Taurasi, Taurasini

The White Wines of Irpinia: Fiano di Avellino & Greco di Tufo

The region of Campania in Southern Italy produces some of the country’s best white wines.  Irpinia, in the northeast of Campania, excels in Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo.

IMG_9234 3Teresa Bruno Di Petilia, President, and Ilaria Petitto, the Vice President of the Conzorzio Tutela Vini d’Irpinia invited me to a tasting of the wines of Irpinia at Il Gattopardo NYC. The event was called “Spectacular Irpinia.” Their goal is to familiarize the wine drinking public with Irpinia and make their excellent wines better known.

IMG_9083The speaker was Susannah Gold, who did an excellent job of sharing her knowledge of the wines of Irpinia through her talk and slide presentation.  We tasted 6 white wines and 6 reds. This blog will deal with the 6 whites.

Irpinia (Latin Hirpinia) is located in the northeast of Campania in the province of Avellino, about 50 kilometers from Naples. The name “Irpinia” derives from the ancient Oscan word “hirpus,” which means wolf, and the wolf remains Irpinia’s symbol to this day.

The Irpinia DOC covers the entire province of Avellino and within the DOC are the DOCG zones of Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino.  These wines were known to the Ancient Romans and they were recorded by Pliny the Elder (d.79AD).  Because of the loose sandy and volcanic soil there are many pre-phylloxera vines (old vines) producing wines of unparalleled concentration and depth.

Fiano di Avellino

Fiano di Avellino must have 85% Fiano by law but almost all, if not all, producers in Irpinia use 100% Fiano. The DOCG stretches over 26 comunes/municipalities and 430 hectares of valleys and slopes. Avellino is in the heart of the southern Apennine mountains in Campania.

The vineyards are between 300 and 600 meters and the soil is volcanic, clay-calcareous and limestone. Fiano di Avellino is a wine that can age.

IMG_9080Fiano Di Avellino “Alimata” 2018.  Villa Raiano Alimata is the name of the district of the municipality of Montefredane in the province of Avellino that you encounter going up towards the town on the slope of the hill that faces east. Here, at 350 meters above sea level, is the two-hectare vineyard where the grapes for this wine grow. The soils are composed of clay on a marly basis. The vinification is simple but developed over a long time: it takes place in steel vats where it refines on the lees for twelve months and a further twelve months of aging in the bottle. This is an elegant wine with hints of citrus fruit, apple, white flowers and a nice finish and long aftertaste. I visited the winery in 2019 and liked this wine so much I took a few bottles back home with me.

IMG_9081Fiano Di Avellino “Eclissi” 2018 Case d’Alto made from 100% Fiano di Avellino from a 2 hectare vineyard in Grottaminarda. The soil is clay and calcareous. The wine has hints of apple, yellow fruit, lemon and a note of fresh hazelnuts

IMG_9082Fiano Di Avellino Riserva  2018 Sarno 1860 erre made from 100% Fiano di Avellino from a 3 hectare vineyard of the winery. The winery is in Candida, an ancient village in the province of Avellino. The vineyards are at 6,000 meters and the soil is calcareous clay rich in potassium and phosphorus. Harvest is by hand in the middle of October. Grapes are crushed with a pneumatic press with the cage closed, and the wine spends 18 months on the lees. This is a complex wine with depth and structure. It has hints of white peaches, pears, hazelnuts with floral  notes and a touch of mint. Sarno 1860 produces only Fiano di Avellino and just 3,000 bottles of this wine were made.

Greco di Tufo

Tufo is the name of a village and also the type of rock the village is built on. It is made from volcanic ash from eruptions which then becomes solid. Tuff rich volcanic (above 400 meters) and clay soils combined with sulfur help to add character to the wines. Sulfur mines were present here and in the town of Tufo you can sometimes smell sulfur in the air. Two major areas have distinctive types of soil.  In the north there are more stones and flysch and in the south more volcanic materials.

Susannah mentioned that Greco is related to Asprinio.  The Greco di Tufo DOCG covers only 8 communes.

IMG_9085Greco di Tufo 2021 Historia Antiqua made from 100% Fiano di Avellino. The winery was started in the 1990’s and and was at first a Consortium.  Today there are 40 hectares of vineyards. The soil is loam and clay and grass grows between the rows of vines. The wine has hints of lemons, a touch of pear, and a note of toasted almonds with good minerality.

Like Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo by law must have 85% Greco but most, if not all producers, use 100% Greco

Greco di Tufo is a wine that can age.

IMG_9088 2Greco di Tufo ‘Quattro Venti’ Riserva 2020 Petilia  Made from 100% Fiano di Avellino.  The vineyards are in Chianche, locality of Sant’Andrea (Altavilla).  The vineyards are at 600 meters, the exposure is south/east and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. The soil is clayey, volcanic, and rich in minerals with a sumptuous subsoil and the training system is espalier with guyot pruning. The vines are 20 years old. Harvest takes place the second week of October. There is ultra soft pressing with whole grapes and fermentation in steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine has citrus notes, hints of almonds, lemon blossoms and quince.

Teresa Bruno Di Petilia CFO of Azienda Agricola Petilia, who is also the president of the Consorzio, was present and spoke about her wines. I visited the winery a few years ago.

IMG_9089 2Greco di Tufo ‘Vigna Laure” 2020 Riserva Cantina Di Marzo Made from100% Greco di Tufo from a 5 hectare vineyard with a south-southwest exposure. Vines were planted in 2008 and 2010. Laure vineyard is on a rock which is on top of an old sulphur mine. The grapes are hand harvested toward the end of October.  Destemming takes place  followed by a gentle pressing. Only the free run juice is used and fermentation with selected yeasts takes place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is on the lees for 9 months where malolactic fermentation takes place. There is a light filtration before bottling and the wine remains in the bottle for at least one year before it is bottled. This is a wine with hints of bitter lemon, lime, Mediterranean herbs, a touch of almonds and a hint of eucalyptus. Mr. Ferrante De Somma, owner of Cantina Di Marzo,  said that this is the oldest cantina in Campania and that his ancestor introduced the Greco grape into the zone.

Some of the difference between Fiano and Greco is that Fiano  is more elegant, has an apple aroma and hints of hazelnuts. Greco has more body, takes on a slightly honey quality with age and has hints of almonds.

I was very pleased with all the white wines from Irpinia that I tased. Code di Volpe and Falanghina are white wines also produced in Campania but they were not part of the tasting.

Next time Aglianico and Taurasi.


Filed under Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Irpinia

A Taste of Irpinia

I did not think it was possible to fit in so much into two and a half days in Irpinia in Campania but we did. This is third blog on my trip.  In addition the the wines, it was an opportunity to sample the foods of this region, which although close to Naples and the Amalfi Coast, is quite different due to the climate and high altitude.

Our host for the trip was Federico Basso from the Villa Raiana winery.

The first night over dinner at Villa Raiana, Federico and I began to talk about pasta. I mentioned pasta aglio, olio e peperoncino which I had not had in a long time.  My wife, Michele makes it at home, but it is rare to see it on menus.  Federico said it is a simple dish but there must be a perfect balance between the ingredients to make it work and this is the difficulty. He mentioned that it is a specialty of the restaurant we are going for lunch the next day.

Restaurant Riserva 24 in located in Serino (Avellino)

When we arrived at the restaurant, there was a bowl of roasted chestnuts on the table. I tried one and the whole shell came right off.  It was  delicious, probably the best I had ever eaten. I had to stop myself from eating too many.


Sausage and  greens  with  potatoes,  fried  croutons  and  a fried  sweet  pepper.

Chick pea soup


Sauteed mushrooms with polenta

Pizza with lardo and local cheese

Greco de Tufo 2017 “Ponte dei SantiVilla Raiano. Federico said Greco di Tufo is a small appellation but has numerous shades in terms of terroir. In the upper section of the district of Ponte dei Santi of Altavilla, Irpina (Avellino) is their small 1.3 hectare vineyard. The vineyard is at 550 meters. There are 4,500 vines per hectare; the soil is sandy-silty with dark clay incursions. Harvest is the first week of October. Fermentation and aging the same as above.

Pasta aglio, olio and peperoncino

Irpinia Campi Taurasi 2015 made from 100% Taurasi “Costa Baiano” Villa Raiano Taurasi from a single plot shaped like an amphitheater in the central part of a 9 hectare vineyard located in the municipality of Castelfranci (Avellino) at 500 meters. There are 4,500 plants per hectare, the soil is calcareous clay on yellow sandstone with organic elements and the training system is guyot. Harvest is the first 10 days of November. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with daily punching down and pumping over. Maceration on the skins is for 10 days. The wine matures 50% in cement tanks and 50% in terracotta amphorae. The wine is bottled in October following the harvest. This was the first time I have tasted Taurasi aged in cement and amphorae. It has all the characteristics of Taurasi but seemed to be a much lighter style and more approachable. The 2015 was drinking very well and I believe it will mature slower than the 2016 we had at the winery.

Handmade fusilli pasta with tomato sauce

Grilled lamb and chicken

Dessert consisted of cookies and sweets typical of the holiday season.

That night we went to Restaurant Zi Pasqualina in Atripalda (Avellino)

The waiter suggested a few appetizers including:

Mozzarella di bufala Campania, ricottina di buffalo.


Crostini with peppers

Local prosciutto


I had the ravioli di ricotta in salsa di noci e ricotta salata di Montella

Michelle Kwan had candele pasta al ragu antico con pecorino di Lioni

Second course I had salsiccia di maiale alla brace

Michelle had bistecca di maiale alla brace.

We also shared patate e peperoni ripassati in padella

The restaurant has an extensive list of wines from Campania including older wines. They are in the same town as the Mastroberardino Winery and have Taurasi wines from Mastroberardino going back to the legendary 1968.

Michelle Kwan wanted to drink an older white wine, so we ordered a 2003 Greco di Tufo made from 100% Greco di Tufo Pietracupa. This winery has 3 hectares of vineyards. The soil contains a thin layer of clay and sand over a core of  tufa, a rock formed from volcanic ash. The wine has hints of lemon, pear, honey, white peaches and a touch of almonds.

In addition to being introduced to some memorable wines, this trip  it a great lesson in the culinary riches of Irpinia.


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