“Piedmont Report ” issue 3 and 4 – July 2005 by Antonio Galloni
2003 DOLCETTO D’ALBA SANTO STEFANO di PERNO
2003 DOLCETTO D’ALBA BRICCO
2001 LANGHE NEBBIOLO
2000 BAROLO MONPRIVATO
1999 BAROLO MONPRIVATO
1998 BAROLO MONPRIVATO
2000 BAROLO VILLERO
1999 BAROLO VILLERO
1998 BAROLO VILLERO
2000 BAROLO SANTO STEFANO di PERNO
1999 BAROLO SANTO STEFANO di PERNO
1997 BAROLO RISERVA CÀ D’MORISSO
Mauro Mascarello is one of the few remaining traditionalist producers in Barolo. Mascarello owns what is surely one of the most prized vineyards in all of Piedmont, Monprivato, which occupies a stupendous position, sheltered by Bricco Boschis to the north and Bricco Rocche to the south. From this 6 hectare monopole holding Mascarello produces his Barolo Monprivato, a wine of tremendous aging potential which has been among the region’s benchmark wines for decades. Among the top Barolo bottlings, Monprivato also remains one of the best relative values. To read about two very special verticals of this producer’s wines.
When I was first becaming interested in wine and could not afford Barolos I often drank Mauro Mascarello’s Dolcettos and Barberas. To me they have always been serious wines that convey terroir, varietal and vintage in a very pure way. The wines may not be as perfectly clean or flamboyant as more modern interpretations, but thes classic wines will provide immense drinking pleasure for those who appreciate a more natural style of winemaking.
2003 Dolcetto d’Alba Santo Stefano di Perno – Medium violet. This idiosyncratic, quirky Dolcetto offers notes of blue and black fruits, minerals, and herbs, with good length and fresh lively acidity. 89 points/drink now-2006, tasted 05/05.
2003 Dolcetto d’Alba Bricco – Medium violet. The Bricco is fresher and livelier than the Santo Stefano with more overt fruit and mineral flavors, but slightly less complexity overall. 88 points/drink now-2006, tasted 05/05.
2001 Langhe Nebbiolo – Medium red. A lovely, delicate Nebbiolo that shows the very classic notes of roses, licorice, minerals, and cherries on a medium-bodied frame. Made from the youngest vines in all four of Mascarello’s Barolo vineyards. 89 points/drink now-2009, tasted 05/05.
In good vintages Mascarello releases three single vineyard Barberas, from his plots at Santo Stefano and Scudetto in Monforte, and Codana, which lies next to Monprivato in Castiglione Falletto. Due to the modest quality of the vintage in 2002 there is only one Barbera which is a blend of the various plots. Unfortunately the 2002 Barbera was still showing the adverse effects of its recent bottling and was impossible to evaluate with accuracy.
Mascarello produces four single-vineyard Barolos from the Monprivato, Villero, Santo Stefano, and Bricco vineyards, as well as a Riserva from the heart of Monprivato, called Cà d’Morisso. I was able to taste several vintages of the Monprivato, Villero, and Santo Stefano as well as the current release of the Riserva Cà d’Morisso. Unfurtunately there was not enough time to taste the Bricco, of which there are only 600 bottles produced each year. The Barolos are vinified along traditional lines, with fermentation lasting 18-20 days in years with less structure to 20-25 days in more important vintages. The wines then do malolactic in steel and are aged for 36 months in large Slavonian oak casks of various sizes. The wines are bottled without clarification or filtration in the summer of the fourth year following the harvest. The Riserva Cà d’Morisso spends anywhere between 48-52 months in oak and is released when Mascarello feels the wine is ready. The 1996, for example, has been bottled but has not yet been released.
In terms of vintages, my preference with this producer’s Barolos is for 1999, 2000 and 1998 in that order. The 1999s show the complex nuanced personality of the vintage, while the 2000s are irrestibly sexy and forward, but with good balance. The 1998s strike me as more evolved, both in the color as well as the flavors. “In 1998 the vines were still recovering from the stress they suffered in 1997, so from the beginning the wines have always shown more advanced color and flavors”, explain Mascarello. Even though the 1998s will be ready to drink sooner, these are wines that with good storage can easily age for decades.
Of the terroirs Mascarello works with, Villero is the most feminine, early maturing and easy to understand. Santo Stefano gives the biggest, most old-style wines, with tannins that can sometimes seem quite hard and rough, while Monprivato is somewhere in the middle. When Monprivato is young its tannins and general lack of color can make it a tough wine to evaluate. But make no mistake about it, Monprivato is one of the most long-lived expressive and profound Barolos around.
2000 Barolo Monprivato – Medium ruby with some bricking. A superb, noble nose of sweet fruit, minerals, and menthol is followed by a plenty of super-ripe flavors, ith excellent richness and density on the palate while maintaining a sense of delicateness. Very pretty and seductive. 93 points/drink after 2010, tasted 05/05.
1999 Barolo Monprivato – Medium ruby with some bricking. The gorgeus 1999 Monprivato offers a fresh nose of roses and minerals, and multiple layers of sweet dark red and black cherry flavors that unfold with great elegance, with tremendous length and overall balance. 93+ points/drink after 2014, tasted 05/05.
1998 Barolo Monprivato – Medium, somewhat evolved ruby. Shows a more developed, balsamic nose, with notes of tobacco, spices, and flowers. The 1998 is the most expressive of these Monprivatos today, and displays tons of rich dark fruit, and stewed prunes, with excellent persistence and a lovely note of licorice to round off the finish. 92 points/drink after 2008, tasted 05/05.
2000 Barolo Villero – Rich translucent ruby. The 2000 Villero is beautiful and soft, offering captivating aromas of licorice spices and cocoa along with generous amounts of dark cherry fruit on a medium-bodied frame, giving the impression of great finesse and elegance. 90 points/drink after 2010, tasted 05/05.
1999 Barolo Villero – Rich translucent ruby. Very fresh and aromatic on the nose, the 1999 Villero offers layers of sweet ripe fruit and menthol flavors that slowly reveal themselves with air, offering great length, and above all, a classic structure that will handsomely repay aging. 91 points/drink after 2011, tasted 05/05.
1998 Barolo Villero – Rich translucent ruby. The 1998 Villero displays a floral nose with more evolved aromas of tobacco, and cedar, along with flavors of dark sweet fruit and licorice, with good length and overall balance. This gives the impression of being fairly accessible early. 89 points/drink after 2008, tasted 05/05.
2000 Barolo Santo Stefano di Perno – Rich translucent ruby. Notes of flowers and herbs on the nose. Somewhat less complex and expressive than the 1999, the 2000 Santo Stefano is richer and more immediate on the palate, offering plenty of ripe dark fruit flavors with good overall length. 89 point/drink after 2010, tasted 05/05.
1999 Barolo Santo Stefano di Perno – Rich lively ruby. The stunning 1999 Santo Stefano reveals a balsamic, mentholated nose and flavors of very ripe dark fruit, with excellent length and a superb, fresh finish. A wine of great class and elegance. 91+ points/drink after 2011, tasted 05/05.
1997 Barolo Riserva Cà d’Morisso – Very dark ruby. The outrageous 1997 Cà d’Morisso offers everything one could want from a Barolo, starting with a huge, brooding balsamic nose of spices, cocoa, leather, menthol and tar. This superbly structured wine is massive, with waves of ripe dark fruit that coat the palate, potent tannins, and an exquisitely long finish. Made from a special parcel within the Monprivato cru planted with the Michet clone, this Riserva is only released in top vintages. 95 ponts/drink after 2012, tasted 05/05.