The name “Maule” is one of the most evocative for natural wine in the Veneto, north-east Italy.
The story starts in the late 1980s when Angiolino Maule and his wife buy a small farm-holding of six hectares and start making little-to-no-intervention wines. This small farm-holding, near Gambellara (just east of Soave), included the house La Biancara which subsequently lent its name to the winery.
Even from the very beginning, Angiolino had a clear idea of how he wanted to make wine (putting nature first and not pumping it full of commerical yeasts, enzymes and the like) but found that his vision was leaps and bounds ahead of the market.
On top of that, even by his own admission, the wines had defects. One of the turning points was when Angiolino discovered the wines from Friuli legend, Josko Gravner. It was in these uniquely pure expressions of nature and terroir that he found inspiration and encouragement.
It is due to Angiolino’s perserverance during that time that his name is now a point of reference for some of the best natural wines in the region.
“The satisfaction of making wines which are natural and also good… lets you look the consumer in the eye with serenity. I toiled for many years to find people who understood what is a natural wine.” Angiolino Maule
Nowadays, La Biancara estate comprises a modest 12 hectares of vineyards (and a further 6 are rented.) Approximately 100,000 bottles are made per year.
As you would expect from the area around Gambellara, here the main grape variety is garganega but there is also a fair amount of merlot and a scattering of other varieties (e.g. trebbiano, tocai rosso and cabernet sauvignon.) There are four distinct parcels of Garganega – at 250-300 metres above sea level – and on good years, the top wines will occasionally bear the name of their single vineyard.
There are two cellars – mainly with stainless steel (for Masieri) and large wooden barrels (for Pico and most of the reds.) The photos I took during my visit on 4th November 2016 were taken in the new cellar.
There’s one other reason that the name Maule is so conspicious and that’s because he has an army of helpers in the form of his four sons! 34 year old Francesco runs the natural wine distribution company, Arkè; 30 year old Alessandro works alongside his father; 26 year old Giacomo is turning his hand to craft beer and then there’s the youngest, who is still working out where he fits into this empire.
Visit: 4th November 2016
P.S. If you happen to be in the area, I highly recommend Pizzeria I Tigli (about 15 mins drive from La Biancara) for its gourmet sourdough pizzas, and coincidentally, it’s run by Angiolino’s brother-in-law.