Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My favorite place

I was speaking with a friend just back from Paris. It had been her first trip to the Luxembourg Gardens and we both agreed that the Medici Fountain is a special place on this slowly spinning globe. Something especially unique. It isn't so much the immensity of the place, because it really isn't that big, or any supposed grandeur. There is the quiet there, though. And the well-chosen beauty. And a feeling that once you enter that you are also a part of the weave. There is a pulse to that spot, and my heart rate matches it each time I sit there.

I feel the same inside the cantina where Bartolo Mascarello once drew out labels by hand. Time had been friendly to lead me back there. My first visit was last year and I immediately had wanted to come back. It took almost a year, but there I was, thanks be. And lucky for it.

 Maria Teresa was there.

And there.

And there.

 And it was the room I remembered.

With the decorations I recalled.

And maybe one or two changes.

The vine still grew long and thick on the terrace.

The Panda still sat in the driveway.

The sign outside is still illegible, even if you are right nearby it.

And Franca is still a tough cookie. Here she can be seen striding away, fully aware and perhaps disappointed that today there would be no fisticuffs. She had been ready to put up dukes with some German tourists who strode in demanding attentions while having neglected to make the all-important appointment. Things had gotten a bit tense and Franca had been right at the door ready to go all pronto on their asses. Probably she could be a bouncer at a nightclub in Alba if she really wanted to be. She's tough, man.

Franca and Bartolo. You can tell they were happy together.

And thick as thieves.

Outside the cantina there are today two walking lanterns, to illuminate the late nights. I imagine one of these was Bartolo's and the other Franca's. Or maybe they shared the same together.

We taste a bit of wine and each of us sees what can we can see there.

Here's what we had: Dolcetto 2010, Barbera 2009, Freisa 2009, and Barolo 2007 and 2008. There was no Nebbiolo della Langhe for us on this visit because the last batch had been late in going through malo and so is not bottled yet.

The fate of the Nebbiolo della Langhe awaits: future bottles at the ready.

There is plenty of 2008 Barolo in bottle.

But the one you want to be checking out is the 2007 Barolo from Bartolo, at least while you wait for your 2008s to come around. I cannot imagine someone doing better with the raw materials of 2007. I mean showing all of the 2007 fruit loopiness in the very best light. Here, in this cellar, 2007's Toucan Sam is a Swan. Really beautiful, noble, and pristine. I really, really liked that 2007.

We revisit the cellar.

Who else uses full cork stoppers for their demijohns? Not so many people, let me tell you.

Two old casks have been removed, and their old blocks await the replacements. Those botti were judged to be too old. Maria Teresa has one remaining cask dating from Bartolo's day.

It wasn't, after all, that long ago. The picture is of Bartolo and Mr. Oddero sharing some words and a laugh.

While in another picture a very much younger Bartolo looks out to find the viewer.

Other young children, these in the family of Mascarello's Japanese importer, do the same.

I'm glad I could see them all again.


Eric Lecours said...

Ciao Levi...great post. You were there with GDP, I imagine. I visited the following week. Maria Theresa is such a pleasure and seems to added a touch more elegance to the wines in the past few vintages. The wines are everything Barolo should be. Loved the photos. Cheers, Eric

What We Drank said...

Swoon. I remember that a pre-SWS company here blew out the 1996s &1997s for about $28/ btl in 2003 and I invested, but being impulsive and silly, have since drunk the babies. Those wines (esp the 1996s) gave me great pleasure at a time in my life when there was very little. This post is magical.

leviopenswine said...

Thank you for the comments. I appreciate your following along the posts.