Matteo Montaldo. A story from the Langhe of traditions & bees
While driving around the Langhe on our Red Beetle we found a house, that was supposedly the location of a honey making company. Google often helps in these situations. We rang the bell, invited ourselves in and asked information about the honey. Matteo and his family were so kind and welcoming, we knew immediately we were in the right place.
The honey so lovingly produced in the nearby hills of the Piedmont Unesco Heritage site, is incredible. Today, we learn more about Matteo, how the company started, why and what makes Montaldo Honey so different from the rest.
Where did the idea come from and what was the spark that made you decide to create Montaldo Langhe?
The idea was born together with my friend and partner Aristote. We've wanted to start a beekeeping company for a while, but we lacked a strong brand, something that distinguished us from the rest of the competitors. We decided to focus on the territory, our strength. Being in the Langhe, a UNESCO Heritage site, it was a spontaneous choice to associate my surname, in this region since the beginning of the 1900s, to the territory.
What is the hallmark of your honey?
We must admit that when it comes to honey, Italian quality is really high. It is really difficult to distinguish only based on the product itself, when everywhere in the country producers do such a great job. However, for us this is not a reason for envy, but pride. We are happy to find so much quality, it benefits the market, to everyone's gain.
For this reason we decided to focus on the packaging as a distinctive sign. We have always admired the minimalist style, and it was immediately our goal to bring this concept into our products. Firstly, it totally pays homage to the real star, our honey, and secondly it gives the product a touch of absolute refinement and simplicity.
What is your relationship with the territory?
From the name of our brand to the family roots, we are closely linked to it and it could not be otherwise. To quote the Dalai Lama, with an aphorism that perfectly sums up the concept that has been handed down to me:
"Give those you love wings to fly, roots to return and reasons to stay."
What are the biggest challenges in producing and promoting your product on the national and/or international market?
The biggest challenge is definitely time. The production of honey requires so much care and time, as well as favorable climates (which we cannot control at all). Traditional distribution, with a team of two as we are now, also becomes very complex. Having focused a lot on digital has helped us to level this difficulty, but there is still so much to improve.
A secret about bees that nobody knows?
Contrary to popular's belief, the honey bee is unlikely to disappear as it has a phenomenal ally that protects it: man. So live the beekeepers of the world!
Often we read about stationary and "nomadic" bees (hives that are continually moved), in polemic terms. What is your opinion on this, your approach and why did you choose it?
The question is actually very simple and pragmatic, dictated by the morphology of the territory and other factors of apicultural technique.
Being that honey is produced from blooms and since these blooms do not exist sufficiently in every area of Italy, it obliges us to move in order to allow bees to produce enough honey for themselves and for us beekeepers.
Fortunately the Langhe is a perfect habitat that allows us to produce practically ¾ of our line of honeys remaining stationary on the territory. Moving bees is not a factor that affects so much the taste, as this is dictated exclusively by the blooms and bees.
It can be said, however, that moving the hives allows one to find more blooms perhaps, thus increasing the variety of flavours of a non-single floral honey such as Millefiori (Wildflower), for example.
What is the most important lesson you have learned so far and that you apply in your everyday life?
Patience. We must be patient and wait for the time to mature things. In life, as in business.
You are very young, and have embarked on a rather unusual path. What do you like most about your job? What are you passionate about and motivating every day?
Working in contact with nature, learning something new from it every day and constantly improving myself by learning from the mistakes I make.
What projects do you have for the future?
We would like to increase our bee-keeping heritage and therefore remain more present in the market without seeing our product out of stock (as it happens, which is also great in a way... it means that honey is appreciated and fills us with pride!).
After the launch in January of this year of our toasted hazelnuts, we are working on some new products, but it is still too early to talk about it. All in good time ;)
Of all the ones you produce, what is your favorite honey?
Certainly the Honeydew. Besides being a sweet honey, it is the most particular because it is the only honey that does not derive from nectar of flowers, but rather from a sugary substance that bees gather on plants and leaves, then work to produce this wonderful honey.
The most unusual recipe to enjoy one of your honeys?
I know it is not very unusual but I can passionately advise you to use Melata to garnish a simple gelato or a plain yogurt. Without adding anything else. I can assure you that it will amaze you, try!
And to conclude, a special memory of your childhood, for example, linked to honey?
More than a memory about honey I have a funny one about bees. As a child, around Carnival time, I used to dress as Zorro. With my new beautiful flaming sword, I literally ran towards my father's hives to test what was the efficacy of my new toy.
Unaware of the stupidity that I was about to do, I stuck my sword inside the hive, from the crack that allows the bees to come out to bite, waving it well to the cry of "Zorro, Zorrooo!". Of course it ended up being covered with bees, with multiple stings. Fortunately I survived. Despite this, years later, it did not stop me from becoming a beekeeper.