Today, Mauro Mascarello is the last remaining giant of the great Barolo generation that included Giovanni Conterno and Bartolo Mascarello.
Mauro has been the winemaker for the Giuseppe Mascarello estate since the late 1960s, succeeding his father, Giuseppe, and his grandfather, Maurizio, both legends in their time. And like them, Mauro is a traditionalist dedicated to long fermentations and aging in old botti.
But Mauro has also made important changes, not the least of which was the creation of a single Barolo from the great Monprivato vineyard in 1970. Prior to that year, his family had always made their towering Barolos and Barolo Riservas by blending Monprivato fruit with grapes from other sites.
The great multi-vineyard Mascarello Barolos of the 1950s and 1960s were among the giants of their era. Yet, as remarkable as they were—and remain today when well cellared—Mauro recognized that Monprivato on its own could produce an even more compelling wine, prodigious in its perfume and abundant in its richness.
Since its first vintage in 1970, Mauro’s Barolo Monprivato has been one of the Langhe’s most consistently magical wines. The secret to its greatness can be found not only in Mauro’s winemaking but in a very special terroir. Approximately 15 acres in size on a southwest-facing slope in Castiglione Falletto, Monprivato’s chalky and gray marl soils offer textbook conditions for Nebbiolo.
Monprivato has been known as a special vineyard since at least the 1600s, and a quarter century ago Renato Ratti’s classification of Barolo vineyards ranked Monprivato among Barolo’s ten greatest vineyards—analagous to a Burgundy grand cru. In the 1980s, Mauro brought the complete site under his family’s ownership, making it one of the few great Barolo vineyards to be entirely owned by a single azienda.
In 1983, having made several great Barolos from Monprivato, Mauro began replanting a two-acre section of the vineyard, using a Nebbiolo clone originally planted in Monprivato in 1921 by his grandfather Morissio. Mauro theorized that this clone—of the Michét subvariety—had become uniquely adapted to the Monprivato terroir. Mauro’s goal was to produce a super-riserva Barolo called Cà d’Morissio.
Mauro’s first two Cà d’Morissios—the 1993 and 1995—showed great promise, but it was the profound 1996 and 1997 that really put this cuvée on the map. And the 2001 (released at the end of 2008) could prove to be even more glorious. Today, Cà d’Morissio stands next to Giacomo Conterno’s Monfortino and Giacosa’s Rocche del Falletto Riserva as the greatest of all traditionally made Barolos.
In addition to Barolo Monprivato and Cà d’Morissio, Mauro makes small quantities of perhaps the finest Barolos in the Santo Stefano di Perno and Villero crus. He also makes vineyard-designated Dolcettos and Barberas that are as uncompromising and deep as his Barolos.
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