The first decade of the new millennium has been an important moment for Piedmont's venerable Giuseppe Mascarello estate.
With the world increasingly enchanted by the magic of classic Barolo, the estate's legendary Barolo Monprivato has emerged as one of the region's crown jewels—while its maker, the equally legendary Mauro Mascarello, is increasingly regarded as an Italian national treasure. Such acclaim is long overdue for a winemaker whose track record dates back more than four decades. But it was also inevitable: now that Giovanni Conterno and Bartolo Mascarello are gone, he is the last of his generation of great classically inspired winemakers in Barolo.
Like Giovanni and Bartolo, Mauro is a traditionalist dedicated to long fermentations and aging in old botti. But he 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 white 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 epic 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 domaine.
"Mauro Mascarello is one of the few remaining old-timers in Piedmont. Since his first full vintage, in 1970, Mascarello has crafted a number of truly iconic wines. Today, Mauro runs the estate with his wife, Maria Teresa, and their two children, Elena and Giuseppe. The Mascarello family’s crown jewel is the Monprivato vineyard, a site in Castiglione Falletto that is capable of producing wines of both extreme sensuality and ageworthiness. The flagship wine is the Barolo Monprivato, but since 1993, the Mascarellos have also bottled a small amount of their Barolo Riserva Ca’ d’ Morissio from a small plot planted with the rare Michet clone."
Henry Davar, Wine & Spirits 12/2011
"As I taste the Barolo Monprivato 2006 and '07 I'm stricken with a combined sense of horror (that the thesis I have been investigating is potentially irrelevant) and exhilaration (that the reason I had originally fallen in love with Barolo and Barbaresco is staring me in the face). All talk of winemaking is suddenly irrelevant. I know that Mauro Mascarello is (and I will borrow the words of their US agent) 'the last of his generation of great classically inspired winemakers in Barolo,' but I had learned that they were farming to extremely low yields. I know that they favor long fermentation but are performing remontage in favor of cappello sommerso. They are carrying out malolactic fermentation in a combination of steel and cement tanks. They are aging their wines in large Slavonian oak botti. All of this fades away as I taste Monprivato and realize that I have not tasted a Barolo like it during my stay in Piedmont-for how could I have? Monprivato is an expression of this particular place-a vineyard that dominates one of a series of ridges on the western slope of Castiglione Falletto, surrounded by Bricco Boschi, Bricco Fiasco and Villero. And the mascarellos have captured its soul completely."
Guildsomm: The Wines of Barolo and Barbaresco (features Mauro Mascarello)