Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Barolo threeways in France - three producers and three vintages...

In the same vein as the last blog - Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons threeways - I took a few bottles of Barolo with me on holiday and decided that opening them all together was the way forward...
The trio di Barolo...
The three wines are ones I know well and that I buy every vintage:

Marcarini - is a slightly more commercial producer that the other two who could be classed as artisanal and cult in similar ways. All are traditional in terms of their non-use of new oak but there are differences too. Marcarini also makes a La Serra which, to me, is a little less structured but good.

Bartolo Mascarello - A producer whose wines I have loved for a while, old bottles can be variable but from 2005 I believe these are firmly at the top of the tree. The 2005 and 2008 being exceptional in vintages (especially 2005) where not everyone shone. The attitude is traditional in wood use but also the blending of vineyards (Cannubi - San Lorenzo , Rue and Rocche di La Morra - as per the label). Ken Vastola's site - www.finewinegeek.com - has a great section on Bartolo - info can be found here.

Cappellano - My experience is a little less here than the others but both the Pie Rupestris and Pie Franco are serious. Whenever I have had the wines I have found them to be powerfully poised and elegant as well as built to last. The same site as above has Cappellano info HEREThe Chinato is not to be overlooked if you can find it!


"Protocol" - all wines were cool and just opened and tasted (PNP = popped 'n' poured). Then double decanted (DD) before the second tasting and thereafter served from bottle nice and cool.

Barolo Brunate 2004, Marcarini

PNP - Clean, heady, slightly spiced nose with red fruits and some black backbone. Full, rich and intense. The palate is more structured and drier. Quite bold structure and good grip, nice tannins that are big but not hard, good length. Good wine.

Post DD + 2 hours - Still a little heady and hi-toned, good though. This is a wine that is not either young or mature and possibly suffers as a result. The tannins are certainly the boldest of the three. This is good, very good even, but not stacking up on pure quality with the other two.

20 hours after first opening - Holding up very well and whilst still a little "hi" it has a good balance of fruit and tannin with nice acidity. I think I'll try to leave the last bottles and a magnum of this that I have for at least 5 years, as I feel it will age very well and mellowness might be a good thing. 19/25.

Barolo Pie Rupestris 2008, Cappellano

PNP - Clean, more animal than the Marcarini. Richness? Yes, but also with lovely farmyard character but then more leather aromas, tea and lots of complexity. The fruit is nicely bruised in places, the acidity is more a feature of the wine than the tannin, which is there, but not overpowering. Nice start.

Post DD + 2 hours - Very good, somewhere between the other two in terms of profile, not the fruit purity of the Bartolo, not the tannin of the Marcarini. The sweet leather and tan element are superb, the fruit has tightened up a bit, clearly young but with an old soul. I like this, for the purists for sure.

20 hours after first opening - Lovely lifted nose, still on the leather side but also cured meats and saline, a serious wine that has good degraded sweetness and a great ability to age, I foresee this being a tertiary style of wine. Despite all these "animal" descriptors there is a red berry fruit lurking as well. Really lovely. 20-21+/25

Barolo 2009, Bartolo Mascarello

PNP - Such lovely poise, this has real precision and is more on the fruit than the others, there is a little spice there, the palate is a little softer and lighter but still true, this smacks of a tender attitude to a vintage that is not a blockbuster, good start.

Post DD + 2 hours - This saw comfortably the biggest change of the wines, the elegant but slightly scrawny, almost light red fruit has gone, replaced by a darker, sweeter and fuller character. I hate lazy analogies of red Burgundy but here's one coming; it is like a lesser vintage Volnay that has turned into a young Morey-Saint-Denis from a great year. The only possible criticism I might be able to make is that it is not so obviously Barolo. The wine is just a different animal post the double-decant and time.  

20 hours after first opening - The only wine to be tighter now than after DD+2hours, the nose is classy but a touch subdued, the extravagance of the second tasting has gone on the nose but there is a lovely rich tarry-ness to the palate with a good, marked acidity too. Somehow it is less of a showstopper now but more of a Barolo. 21-22/25

Conclusion: This was a really fun way to do things and I look forward to just drinking the last third of each later without making notes. The styles are different as well as the vintages. I will certainly continue to buy all three.


  1. I particularly enjoy your Piemonte wine writing. Have you tried Cappellano's Barbera from Gabutti? The good bottles of it are very impressive.

    1. Hi Ben, Thank you for your comment, most kind. I haven't but would love to, I'll keep an eye out for a bottle...any particular vintage?

  2. I really like the 2010, and the 2004 AB Normal (raised in botte for 10 years).

  3. Thanks Ben, will keep an eye out!