A week ago I visited Maria-Teresa Mascarello at Bartolo Mascarello in Barolo. Mascarello’s is a traditional, no-frills operation: cement fermentation tanks, a basket press and nothing but large oak casks. It looked like nothing had changed in the last 50 years. In fact, the cellar had been built in 1919 by Maria-Teresa’s grandfather. Even the labels are applied by hand.
This estate, comprising just over 12 acres, is different in another respect. There are no crus here, despite holdings in Cannubi, San Lorenzo and Rue in Barolo and Rocche dell’Annunziata in the commune of La Morra. The four vineyards are blended to create a single expression of Barolo.
The wines are fresh and pure, with structure and finesse. We tasted the 2007, 2006 and 2005 Barolo from cask and the 2006 Barbera d’Alba from cask. The 2007 was still quite raw and undergoing malolactic fermentation. The 2005 was very aromatic, with floral, cherry and spice notes supported by a firm structure. It was more elegant than the fleshier, muscular 2006, which showed plenty of pure cherry in the aroma, then shut down on the palate with firm dense tannins.
The Barolos spend 3 years in cask; the Barbera 2 years.
From the current releases, we tasted the Dolcetto d’Alba 2006, a red with tart cherry and earth notes and a pleasant astringence on the finish. The Barbera d’Alba 2005 is still youthful, with a deep, wild, blackcurrant flavor. It’s pure and mouthfilling, with a good acid structure and length. Maria-Teresa noted that it is a good match for strong, rustic dishes.
The Barolo 2003 showed rich cherry and a hint of tar flavors. Quite round and accessible already at this stage, it had moderate tannins underneath. The Barolo 2004, bottled in August 2007, was more intense, with aromas of wild herbs, red currant and bilberry, followed by a beam of pure cherry on the palate. It was firm and concentrated with a strong mineral character, yet also refined.
This is a Barolo to buy for those seeking an example of the traditional style.
John Miller — Windsor, CA — December 9, 2007 4:53pm ET
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