Monday, November 24, 2014

1670 cellar with wine tasting :P

1670 brick cellar where the barriques rest at 16C/60F
Yes, we did it again: we went to the Roero wine district to visit our friend Giovanni Negro and his family at their wine estate.
Initially, we had meant to take pictures of the vineyard covered hills because in the Fall the vines show all sorts of bright yellows, oranges, copper reds to auburns, depending if they are Arneis, Nebbiolo or Dolcetto vines.
However, we have been having an exceptionally rainy November and the leaves fell so we took advantage and visited the winery cantina - cellar and the animals we hadn't already met: horses, goats and geese.

Nowadays the Negro wine estate covers 27 properties and anytime we go, the landscape is simply breathtaking as no matter where you look at, all the hills belong to the Negro family! What we particularly like though, is the connection to their land this wine making family feels, in fact, they also have a vegetable garden, farm animals and most importantly, they use their own humus instead of chemical fertilizer!

As we entered the winery, Giovanni, the owner invited us to go on a tour of the newly restored cellar, he was so proud, he told us right away that the stones and all the bricks we saw where original pieces from the very first building!!
We totally shared his enthusiasm since this winery dates back to 1670 and it's located on a sandy hill so, giving it its current shape was quite a task!

We started our tour from these huge room with the humongous stainless fermentation vessels, where the wine ferments before aging in the barriques. We saw the bottling machine and the storage where we heard that the Negros export over 60% of their wines abroad and their top buyer country is Norway, where they especially love a Nebbiolo based sparkling wine named after Giovanni's wife, Maria Elisa. Then, we went to the cellar, a room kept constantly at 16C/60F where the wine ages in oak barriques and the bricks are original from th 17th century. In the center of each vault there's a Roero family emblem and the mold of two Negro family members' hands are stuck on the last one. 

We were also showed the area where the bottles rest upside down to allow the yeasts to deposit on the neck of the bottle and then, as the light hours are very limited now, after looking at the private collection of historical bottles, we rushed outside to greet the animals!
We had already met the old turkey, the colorful roosters, the charming guinea-fowls with their small dot feathered coats, and the dogs, but were still missing the horses, the geese and the goats we had seen as we were driving up the hill into the vineyards.

The goats were especially cute and happy to see us, too bad it was too late to get into the fence, which means we'll go back in the spring. In fact, as we were there, some of the area kids were paying a visit to the horses and treating them with some food. Basically, this side of the winery is the family farm and if you are good-hearted you are more then welcomed to pet the animals.

As the sun went down, we took Giovanni by his word and went back to the cantina to enjoy our tasting!
We were served some Parmesan cheese and salami with local breadsticks and a full glass of Giovanni Roero Arneis brut, aged for 20 months. This was a very fruity and aromatic dry wine of tiny pearlage. Our team just fell for it right away and some got a second serving! Then we were served the Maria Elisa Rose' brut, the favorite wine by the Norwegian market; this is a young Nebbiolo based rose' sparkling wine with a much more defined effervescence. No wonder it is such a loved wine, it is just delicious, refined and delicate! Plus the rose' color gives it  an immediate sense of female strength that really reminds of Maria Elisa Negro, Giovanni's wife! In fact, she sat at the table to chat with us and told us how it was one of her sons who had the idea of creating a specific wine that carried her name. 

Giovanni Negro, owner of the winery

And this is how our day trip to the Roero wine district, now in the Unesco World Heritage List, finished.

As the real Italian wine country, Piedmont is a happy land with many wine districts, climates and differently exposed hills. Our local specialties also enhance the bouquet of our wines and we use them to cook too.

The Negro wine estate though, is particularly worth a visit because of the century long wine making tradition of this friendly family. Even Pope, John Paul II went enjoyed their wines!
Their cellar is like their living room and their lands have been their home for over 300 years.
They love what they have been doing generation after generation and keep the flame of their passion alive.
Their animals, private vegetable garden as well as the rose sided vineyards are a special view!

If you love high quality wines and enjoy feeling how connected wines can be to their terroir and local flavors, this is the winery for you!

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