Why is this Wine so Yummy?
About Bartolo Mascarello
Check out this article in the Wine Bite Mag “The Great Bartolo Mascarello” It covers a fair bit of ground including a discussion with Maria-Theresa and archival footage with Bartolo.
Old school and proponents of blending across sites rather than single Cru wines. Bartolo Mascarello wines are filled with personality and delight. One of the best dinners I’ve ever had was devouring a vertical of Bartolo Mascarello.
One thing is clear, with the passing of the baton from Bartolo to his daughter Maria Theresa the wines have only gotten better!
Maria-Teresa Mascarello ably carries the torch handed down from her father Bartolo after his death in 2005, arguably taking the wines to a place of greater consistency, vibrancy and detail through considered and careful changes, while remaining staunchly traditional. Having returned from her foreign language and literature studies, Maria Teresa joined Bartolo in 1994, and as his health and mobility declined later that decade, assumed more and more of the day-to-day control of the cantina.
Established in 1918 by Maria Teresa’s grandfather and Bartolo’s father, Giulio, with a loan of 10,000 lire from his father Bartolomeo, Cantina Bartolo Mascarello’s vineyards amounted to 4 hectares by the 1930s, and has only grown to 5 hectares in the ensuing years with the purchase of a parcel of land from a cousin in the 1980s. As in times past, only one Barolo is produced, blending fruit from Cannubi, San Lorenzo and Rue (Barolo), with Rocche dell’Annunziata (La Morra). Never have they succumbed to the temptation of a single cru wine, believing that the blending of sites affords greater consistency in the finished wine, particularly in drier vintages.
Not interested in making a perfect wine, but only a true one, Maria Teresa is adamant that the vineyard is where great wine is made and, as such, pesticides and herbicides are eschewed, while rigorous selection is employed prior to fruit entering the cantina, where the level of intervention and manipulation is kept to the bare minimum. Fermentation takes place in large concrete vats dating from the 1940s, in the absence of temperature control and with naturally occurring yeasts. Maceration times are long, averaging 30 days and up to 56 days – in 2010. Ageing in large Slavonian botti follows for 3 years, before a further year in bottle prior to release.
Aside from the single Barolo, Barbera and pristine Dolcetto are produced from grapes grown in San Lorenzo and Rue on aspects less kind to Nebbiolo, though undoubtedly in the hands of others they would not be home to these less valuable varieties. Further Dolcetto comes from Monrobiolo di Bussia, along with Freisa that after a period on Nebbiolo skins to gain tannin and alcohol is bottled with a slight degree of spritz, as was the tradition. Peter Johns – Friend of Maria-Theresa
Dolcetto’s, pronounced dole-CHET-toe, translates to ‘Little Sweet’.
Hit the restaurants in Alba at lunchtime and you’ll see plenty of Dolcetto on the table.
The great estates of Barolo, naturally make great Dolcetto.
Where is it grown?
It’s widely planted throughout the Langhe, the broader region within which Barbaresco and Barolo rest.
It is also grown in Liguria under the name Ormeasco, and, in the Oltrepò Pavese, where it is confusingly named, Nebbiolo or Nibièu. The only DOCG (highest Italian classification) is Dolcetto di Dogliani. The wines of Alba, home to Barolo, being classified DOC, but, perhaps the finest of all of the Barberas.
Lower in acid, ripening weeks before Barbera and Nebbiolo, allows it to be planted in higher, and, cooler sites. Getting the tannin ripe is essential.
What does it taste like?
The wines tend to have deep dark colour, opulent fruit and age well over around five years.
Dolcetto tends to have darker, black fruit characters, with an earthiness, and, fruit derived (not oak derived) woody character. Rich in mid-palate fruit, they often have an edge of rustic, fun, tannin. Many producers make Dolcetto that is a little raw, not developed enough prior to bottling to present as a complete wine.
The best like Voerzio, Cavalotto and Bartolo Mascarello make wines that have undergone a full élévage and have an extra layer of poise. This time, tames the fruit, giving the wine enough oxygen to take the raw edge off it, balancing it with a decent layer of softer tannin.
Tips for Drinking this Wines
🌡Temp: 16°C. We tend to drink reds an edge warm. There’s nothing wrong with chucking the bottles in the fridge for 15minutes to drop a few degrees off them. If they end up too cold they’ll warm up quickly in the glass.
🍷Decanting: All of these wines will benefit from being thrown in a decanter, particularly in their youth. If you’re using a Coravin or other wine preserver, pour enough into each glass to be able to try them over the course of several hours. These young reds will open up and be more expressive with a bit of time in the glass.
⏳Time: I love trying good wines stand alone, with food, and, often the next day. It gives them the chance to shine and ensures you don’t miss a good wine through impatience or fail to bring out it’s best by not marrying them to food.
🕯Cellaring: Voerzio’s wines are drinking beautifully now, a testament to a skilled maker, one who clearly understands the interplay between oxygen, fruit, and, tannin! Best from 2nd half 2018 to 5 years.
🥩🍝🍕🍳Food Match: Just think Piedmontese, braises, rich tomato based ragù, truffles, beef, quail, lamb, wild boar, rabbit. Beef carpaccio with egg yolk and truffle oil! Head south and pair it with a pizza and you’ll go to a happy place. They make for excellent BBQ wines too.