Piedmont's Negro organic winery – 4 centuries of wine

The region of Piedmont in the northeastern part of Italy has long been famous for its superb red wines, most notably Barolo and Barbaresco. However, many Italian wine lovers also know that this region produces some truly excellent white wines. Recently, we had the opportunity to visit Azienda Agricola Negro Angelo e Figli www.negroangelo.it, where the Negro family has been the landowners of the current vineyards since 1670. Located just outside of the town of Monteu Roero about fifty miles southeast of Turin in the beautiful Roero Valley, Negro today is owned and operated by Giovanni and Marisa Negro with the assistance of their four children. Today the family produces from 60 hectares a variety of both red and white organically grown wines.

Our host for the tour and subsequent tasting was Signor Simone Novo, one of the winemakers at Negro. He explained that in the past five years Negro has shifted to the use of homegrown organic fertilizer made from earthworm castings and other organic items. This has allowed the soil to regenerate and regain its equilibrium.

As usual, we began with the white wines. The first was a 2013 DOCG Serra Lupini Roero Arneis, made from 100% Arneis grapes taken from multiple vineyards with vines from 7-25 years in age. This 13% alcohol wine was pale yellow in color and had a fruity nose. Its finish was fruit forward and medium. I rated this wine, which can be stored for 5 years, as an 88.

wines in tasting room
Wines from Negro Winery. Photo: Terry Duarte.

Next we tasted a 2013 DOCG Peraudin Roero Arneis, another 100% Arneis wine made from grapes taken from vines from 32-33 years in age located in the original Negro vineyard. This 13.5% alcohol wine, made in stainless steel tanks, was a slightly paler yellow with a light fruit nose but had a very nice long finish with medium mineral taste. Capable of storage for 10 years, I rated this excellent example of a Roero Arneis 90/91 as it will get even better with a bit more aging in the bottle.

The third wine was a 2007 DOCG Roero Arneis, a 100% Arneis 14% alcohol wine made from the oldest vines at Negro in stainless steel tanks and aged for 7 years before it was released. It was a deeper yellow in color and had a very light but opening nose. A very nice wine, I rated it an 89.

Our next offering was a 2009 DOCG Ginal Roero Arneis, a 13.5% alcohol, 100% Arneis wine made from 20 year old vines. This wine is aged in French oak for 6 months. It also had a deeper yellow color with a very slight and subtle fruit nose. Its finish was forward with medium length. I rated it an 89. This completed our white wine tasting and we moved to the reds.

The first red was a 2012 DOC Dina, a 100% Barbera that was garnet in color with a fruity nose. This 13.5 % alcohol wine had a medium but smooth finish. I rated it an 88 and add the proviso that it should be drunk when young.

Negro's second red was a 2009 DOCG Basarin Barbaresco, a 14.5% alcohol, 100% Nebbiolo wine made from 60 year old vines. This Cru wine was garnet in color and had a very smooth fruity nose. Its taste and finish was fruit forward and very smooth. I rated this excellent example of a Barbaresco a 90.

Next we tried a 2012 DOC Nicolon Barbera d'Alba, a 100% Barbera, 14.5% alcohol wine made from 28 year old vines. It was aged 12 months in oak, half in barriques and half in casks. The finished wine was purple in color with fruity nose. It had a medium to long finish and I rated it a 90.

A 2012 DOC Bertu Barbera d'Alba followed. This was another 100% Barbera, 14.5% alcohol wine but this one was totally aged for 12 months in French oak barriques. It was purple in color with a gentle light fruit nose. Its finish was forward but medium in length. I rated it an 89.

Shifting to 100% Nebbiolos, we tried a 2013 DOC Angelin Langhe Nebbiolo. This 13.5% alcohol wine was aged 80% in stainless steel and 20% in oak casks. Its color was a light garnet and the nose was fruity and smooth. Its finish was tannic but long and smooth. I rated it an 89.

Our second Nebbiolo was a 2012 DOCG Prachiosso Roero produced from single vineyard of 30-35 year old vines. This 14.5% alcohol wine was a deep garnet in color and had a complex but fruity nose. It finished very smoothly and medium long. A very nice wine, I rated it a 91.

The next offering was a 2010 DOCG San Barnardo made from 17 year old vines. This 100% Nebbiolo, 14.4% alcohol was aged 18 months in wood with half in casks and half in barriques. The wine was deep purple in color with a complex nose. It had a long, tannic finish with a hint of leather. I rated it an 89.

Concluding the tasting was a DOCG Sudisfa, a 100% non-cru Nebbiolo produced from multiple vineyards. This 14.5% alcohol wine was aged for 24 months in barriques of French oak. Its color was purple and it had a light nose. Its taste was lighter than the San Barnardo but smooth and it finished medium long. I rated this wine an 88/89.

We went to Negro primarily to taste their Roero Arneis but left very impressed by their red wines as well. My thanks go to the Negro family, especially Signora Emanuela Negro, our hostess for a delicious lunch, and to Signor Novo for a most enlightening and enjoyable visit to their winery. I highly recommend all of their wines. They are imported in the USA by The Piedmont Guy.

November, 2014

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