Dispatch: Bartolo Mascarello (Maria Theresa)
Having the opportunity taste at Bartolo Mascarello was one of the great honors of my life. I have been in love with the wines since my first bottle of 1996 Barolo at Babbo for I think, my 26th birthday. At the time, without question, this was the most delicious wine that I had ever tasted. I still believe it is one of the most wonderful wines in the world. To drink both young and fresh as well as with maturity, no other wine delivers elegance and finesse in Barolo in quite the same way.
The secret at this estates seems to be simplicity.
They keep very low yields in the vineyard. They harvest ripe, beautiful, healthy fruit, and treat it gently.
After harvest, they are using these old cement vats to vinify all of the wines. In addition to the Barolo, which is the bulk of production, they make small quantities of Langhe Nebbiolo, Dolcetto d’Alba. Barbera d’Alba, and Freisa.
After the initial maceration, Maria Theresa employs a porous wooden board weighted down with a brick to keep the cap submerged.
I asked after these two giant wooden vats. I was told that these are only used for holding wine or occasionally for vinification, depending on the size of the harvest. But in essence, the goal, is to use cement for everything.
After fermentation, the wines are racked into Gerbellotto Botti for elevage.
They also have a collection of 1000L foudre.
The cellars at Bartolo Mascarello are small. Sadly, there are not a ton of bottles of these old vintages around. But they do occasionally dip into the shrinking stores to enjoy and study.
When Bartolo was alive, he used to love to make hand-drawn labels, and Maria Theresa kept a collection of these images and produces limited runs for each vintage. These bottles are only sold directly from the domaine.
This is me standing in front of the entire production of 2009 Barolo.
So after the tasting, I was sitting around talking with Maria Theresa and her assistant, Alan, while hoping in vain for a replacement rental car to arrive. Maria Theresa’s mother, Franca, was hanging around and Giuseppe Rinaldi happened to stop by as well, which I know sounds ridiculous but is, in fact, just the way it goes sometimes out in the vines. What an honor for me to get to meet these legendary wine folks.