Monday, May 21, 2012

Giuseppe Mascarello, bonum vinum

Mauro Mascarello likes to taste from samples that have been open awhile. He scrawls on each bottle the date on which it was uncorked. This vintage of Villero and the handwritten date notation brings back to my mind the memories of my visit to this cantina last year, when I had a chance to try the 2006 Villero in the same tasting room.

The vineyard area known as Villero is bigger these days, having entirely absorbed the nearby Pugnane cru during the recent official cru reorganization, so that Pugnane will actually no longer be found on any Barolo labels.

On this visit we sample amongst other vintages a number of 2007s, one being this Monprivato which is surely one of the most impressive 2007 Barolos I have tried. A really supreme and deft blending of classic Monprivato character with the accessibility of the 2007 vintage. Mauro has decided against bottling a Ca' d'Morissio Riserva in 2007, so the Monprivato may well stand with Bartolo Mascarello's 2007 Barolo as the top Barolo of that year, at least in my estimation.

Mauro was in a good mood on this day and talks to us at length about a number of topics. He tells us that of the previous decade, 2001, 2004, and 2006 were his preferred vintages, with 2006 being perhaps his personal favorite. From my own admiration of his 2006 Villero, I can certainly see what he means.

Mauro tells us that the 1970 Monprivato, which was the first year for that single vineyard bottling, was composed solely of the Nebbiolo Michet vines at the top of the vineyard that from 1993 became the basis for the Ca d'Morissio bottling. The Nebbiolo Lampia vines, which make up most of Monprivato the vineyard, were not used for the 1970 Monprivato, but they would be in later G. Mascarello Monprivato offerings. So in fact the 1970 Monprivato is basically the first Ca d'Morissio from Mascarello. This all came about because Mauro's father thought at the time that bottling single vineyard Barolo was a terrible idea, and he told Mauro that if he wanted to go for it then to use the Michet vines, because they weren't good for much anyway. Mauro said that his father Giuseppe never once in his whole life admitted to him that bottling Monprivato was a good idea, but that he knew Giuseppe had had a change of heart towards the end of his life (Giuseppe died in 1983) because of statements he had made to other people.

Mauro told us about the demijohns. At one time Giuseppe Mascarello had been mostly in the demijohn business, selling them at the family grocery market.

In fact, at one point the winery was putting out one MILLION liters of wine a year in demijohns. That's right. A million liters.

Of course, much of that was possible owing to bought in grapes, and in fact his family were huge purchasers, purchasing at one point the majority of the production of the entire Castiglione Falletto zone (the family avoided purchases from La Morra, however). This gigantic wooden oval is no longer used, but remains at the winery as a testament to the volumes once produced there.

Now, of course, the winery mostly traffics in bottles, and production is much lower than it once was.

In fact, production of this particular wine, the Barolo Bricco, has ceased, and Mauro is now declassifying the grapes into the Langhe Nebbiolo, blended together with grapes from the young vines of his various other crus.

It is hard to argue with the changes Mauro has made, as he leads what is for me one of the highest quality wineries in the entire world. The heights that G. Mascarello is reaching I think are on par or better than any producer that you could name from anywhere, and I see the man through the lens of what I think are absolutely tremendous wines.

Scratches on paper today, but a grand bottle in the future.

This is the analytical lab at Giuseppe Mascarello. This is what it actually looks like.

But this is what it seems like to me. Because they are dealing with masterpieces there.

I am happy to witness them.

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