The estate of the Negro family is situated in the heart of the Roero area, in the northwest of Alba. They started making wine in the late 19th century. Today, it is Lorenzo Negro who leads this winery. The Estate has about 8 hectares of vineyards, almost all gathered in the area called 'Serra Lupini'. The soil here is filled with sand and limestone, which comes from the fossils you’ll find all over the vineyards. Because it is so typical for the terroir and therefore also for the wines (they have a lot of minerality), the shell became the symbol of this family-run company.
In 2006, Lorenzo brought a new vibe into the winery: he started the renovation of the old winery and created some new wines with labels that are a feast for the eyes. He also pays a lot of attention to an organic or bio way of wine making. For example, grass and flowers grow freely between the vineyards to promote biodiversity and to keep the sandy soil together on the more steep vineyards. Another striking aspect here are the birdhouses, that are spread all over the vineyards in order to keep away the insects.
The old winery has recovered all its rustic splendor after renovation. Even in the bricks of the winery we find fossil shells! This renovated winery really reflects the ambition of Lorenzo Negro: a super clean winery equipped with the most modern installations, all in an environment that relies on tradition, which allows the owners to enhance and preserve the origin of the grapes in their wines.
Negro created two lines of wines: the black label ‘i Classici’ (which are all on stainless steel), and the white label ‘i Selezione’ (most frequently a Superiore or Riserva aged on wood). These two lines almost all consist of the typical grape varieties of the region: Nebbiolo, Barbera, Bonarda and Arneis.
We started our tasting with a Spumante 2010, aged for 48 months (they plan to extend it to 60 months). Very yellow in color, this Spumante has citrus, a little bit of brioche and a splendid minerality, with less acidity than a typical sparkling wine. This is a perfect match if you’re on the hunt for a sparkling wine to pair with seafood or even a fondue (to clean the palate). Only 4000 bottles are made, so it’s best to hurry up…
The black labels of Arneis, Barbera and Nebbiolo all have a very nice price quality ratio, but the Barbera Superiore ‘La Nanda' (which refers to the grandmother) really is top notch. The 2009 is very concentrated, with a spicy aftertaste. You should’t say it contains 15% of alcohol, a rather high percentage.
Our visit reached a peak with the tasting of the Nebbiolo’s. We compared the 2007 and 2008 vintage of the Riserva ’S. Francesco’ (the father). They both had undergone a little evolution in color, possessed silky tannins and had some young, red fruit in the nose, with an aftertaste of raisins, red fruit and a lot of acidity, but not too much. Just the way we like it. The 2008 has more strength and spiciness though.
We ended the tasting with the Langhe Rosso ‘Arbesca’ (the nieces): a blend of Nebbiolo and Bonarda, a grape which is too strong and contains too much tannins to create a mono-cépage. They call this wine their T-Bone Steak wine, and you will know why.
It’s clear that Lorenzo Negro is one of the rising stars of the Roero area with a long term plan. He and his family can be really proud of their renovated winery, where they even have the potential to create a nice tasting area.
But we were really blown away at the end of our visit, when we saw the price list of these fine Negro wines. This truly is one of the best estates we have ever visited as regards price / quality. Our conclusion: go and discover this well-hidden gem!