In terms of Nebbiolo, the late Bartolo Mascarello only did one thing, but he did it supremely well, says Stephen Brook...
Producer profile: Bartolo Mascarello
He also made Arneis, Barbera, and Freisa, but it’s his blended Barolo that made his reputation. I scarcely knew him, and since his death in 2005 his daughter Maria Teresa has been running the winery.
There are four plots of vines, in Barolo and La Morra, and they are always blended, which Mascarello always insisted was the tradition here before single-vineyard wines gained more prestige.
The winemaking is simplicity itself: fermentation in cement and wood vats without temperature control and usually with indigenous yeasts.
The maceration can last up to 45 days, and then the wine spends three years in casks, as Mascarello was always vehemently opposed to barrique-ageing.
Not every vintage is great here, and some wines have drying tannins on the finish. But a magnum of 1986 generously poured by Maria Teresa during the Nebbiolo Prima event in May was exquisite, with truffley aromas, a silky texture, purity of flavour, and a long, balanced and fresh finish.
Just what a classic Barolo should be. And in blind tastings I have greatly admired the Barolos from 2006 and 2012, which are heading in the same direction.
Wines to try from Bartolo Mascarello
Bartolo Mascarello, Barolo 1986
Perfumed, leafy nose showing exquisite fruit with a light truffley tone – mushroomy in the best sense. The rich but supple, concentrated and spicy palate, still has energy and purity. The texture is silky and the long finish is balanced and fresh. (94/100pts)
Bartolo Mascarello, Barolo 2006
Lifted nose with aromas of raspberry coulis and mint leaf. Medium-bodied on the palate, but it has intensity and purity of fruit. Good acidity confers freshness and the tannins are very ripe. This has a deceptive simplicity but the drive lifts the wine to give a long, satisfying finish. Admirably balanced. ( 94/100pts)