We recently met Casimiro Maule, who has been working at the “Nino Negri” winery in Valtellina since he was a boy, and whose efforts were recognized by Gambero Rosso, awarding him as the “best winer of the year” in 2007.
Valtellina is about sixty kilometres from east to west, and it is always exposed to the sunlight from morning to evening. The valley boasts two Docgs: the first and more widely known is the “Valtellina Superiore”, with subzones Sassella, Grumello, Inferno, Valgella and Maroggia; the other is the “Sforzato di Valtellina”. With a modern farm of 31 hectares of vineyards in the most prestigious subzones such as Sassella, Grumello, Inferno, Fracia – “Nino Negri” is today a symbol of the Valtellinese wines in the world.
Under the expert guidance of the oenologist and general director of “Nino Negri”, Casimiro Maule, the Chiavennasca grapes, a noble strain of Nebbiolo vine, produce extraordinary wines, whose quality has been rewarded and recognized everywhere.
“The company began in 1897, when Nino Negri coming from Aprica, decided to start growing wine grapes in Chiuro. In 1927, his son Carluccio joined the company, the true creator of ‘Nino Negri’ development and qualitative growth. At the beginning of the eighties, the wine production in Valtellina was in crisis, mainly because of the collapse of the Swiss market. With other companies in the area, we re-founded the Consorzio per la Tutela dei Vini della Valtellina – Consortium to Protect the Wines of Valtellina, which I was president of for 12 years, and with a strong collaborative work we succeeded in restart producing wines of great quality. It is difficult to approach a mountain wine, but once you know and feel it, it is hard to leave it”, Maule tells us.
“In recent decades, I tried to implement what Carlo Negri’s initial idea was: producing valuable wines while respecting the environment, and making a great selection starting with our work in the vineyard. Thus, we reduced the number of bottles produced, and we concentrated on restyling the land, beginning a long and gradual effort to renew our vineyards”.
At this point, Casimiro Maule speaks with pride of his Trento origins, where he got the idea to use girapoggio, a kind of contour ploughing, and of his farming roots, which allowed him to understand what it means to be at harvest time and not know who will buy your grapes. “Changing the deep-seated mentality of the grape growers was not easy. We have taken so many steps since then, with hard work and sacrifice, but it is necessary not to ever become fossilized, continuing on firmly this way, staying well anchored in the facts of reality and the trends in the market”.
Nino Negri’s ‘Sfursat 5 Stelle 2011’ received 91 points from ‘Wine Enthusiast’
“The ‘Sfursat 5 Stelle’ is the premier wine in our cellar, and it is produced only in the best years, selecting grapes of the highest quality. It is a wine that I created in 1983, when the company was in a crisis. It was right then I realized that if we made a great selection beginning in the vineyard, paying the closest attention to all parts of production, it was possible to make a great wine. And it worked out that way.
We can say that ‘Sfursat’ is the wine that has restored importance, and led to a great re-evaluation of not only to ‘Nino Negri’ but to all of the Valtellina products.
Among our wines, I also have to mention ‘Le Tense Sassella Valtellina Superiore DOCG’, from Nebbiolo (Chiavennasca) grapes grown purely in the Sassella subzone, and the ‘Mazèr Valtellina Superiore DOCG’ that represents an excellent selection coming from the 4 subzones, where we are present. In the local dialect, ‘Mazèr’ means ‘good, fine and generous (full-bodied for the wine)’. Also, in 1990, returning to my origins, I also began to produce a white wine that I am especially involved with, using 2 international vineyards and adding to them two local varieties, the Incrocio Manzoni and the Chiavennasca: this gave rise to the ‘Ca’ brione’, which is giving us a lot of satisfaction.
To repeat something that Carlo Negri always used to say, one must concentrate on quality and tradition – and I add that one must do more: the important thing is to do your work with your feet firmly on the ground, keeping an eye on what the market is asking for, without ever losing sight of the selection and quality of the grapes that are the basis for the uniqueness of our Valtellina wines”.
Via Ghibellini 3, 23030 Chiuro (Sondrio)
Tel: ( +39 ) 0342 485211 – Fax ( +39 ) 0342 482235
Sito web: www.ninonegri.net