Wine Advocate number 167 – 31/10/2006
Mauro Mascarello is one of the few remaining traditionalist producers in Barolo. Mascarello owns what is surely one of the most prized wineyards 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 as been among the region’s benchmark wines for decades.
Mascarello’s 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 then 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. Mascarello’s Riserva Ca’ d’ Morissio spends anywhere between 48-52 months in oak and is released when Mascarello feels the wine is ready. 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 no make mistake about it, Monprivato is one of the most long-lived, expressive and profound Barolos around. Among the top Barolo bottlings, it also remains one of the best relative values in the region. The 2001 Barolo Monprivato, a light to medium red, represents the highest level of elegance, with a captivating nose of roses, tar, orange peel, cinnamon and licorice, followed by layers of sweet dark fruit and minerals that evolve in a never-ending counterpoint of aromas and sensations, with much depth, precision and freshness on the finish. Everything is perfectly in balance here – still my guess is that this great wine is showing only a hint of its potential. It is one of the finest Monprivatos in recent memory and a wine no one who is passionate about Barolo should be without. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2026
What a pleasure it is to taste the 2001 Barolo Santo Stefano di Perno, easily the best in recent years. It displays a highly aromatic nose, with notes of roses, raspberries, minerals and menthol, with a feminine, yet structured personality and less of the green note this wine can show, which in the past I have found to be distracting. This bottling can be a bit hard when first opened, but a little air will help to smooth the edges. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2021.
The 2001 Barolo Villero offers an attractive, perfumed nose of roses and spices followed by a very sweet red fruit, with a soft, round personality and great length. Mascarello is among the last to harvest, and it shows in the super- ripe quality of fruit here.Villero is also the first of these Barolos to usually reach maturity. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2019. Mascarello’s outrageous 1997 Barolo Riserva Ca’ d’Morissio makes a case for itself as the most primary and unevolved wine of the vintage. It 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 heart of Monprivato cru planted with the Michet clone, this Riserva is only released in top vintages. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2027.
The 1997 Barolo Riserva Ca’ d’Morissio, with more classic aromas and flavors, is the perfect foil to the 1997. Boasting a dark ruby hue, it shows a captivating, well-delineated nose that suggests roses, violets and minerals, along densely packed layers of primary black cherry fruit on a big, structured frame of notable length, with much purity and imposing tannins,Though not especially expressive today, my sense is that this wine is holding back much of its potential and it wil be a fascinating effort to follow, although readers will have to be especially patient with this wine. Sadly, within just a few vintages it has become priced ih stratosphere. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2031.
Importer: Doug Polaner, Polaner Selections, Mt. Kisco, NY; tel (914)244-0404 and The Rare Wine Co., Sonoma, CA; tel. (707) 996-4484