In 2006, Bartolo Mascarello's 2001 Barolo received 84 points from a major wine critic. "Very funky," the critic wrote, "smells like a warm room with two wet dogs in it." After calling to congratulate Robert, the US importer of Mascarello, and doubling IWM's order of the wine, I called Maria Teresa Mascarello, who had only taken over winemaking from her father in 2005. "Maria Teresa, you made an amazing wine and got a crappy score," I said. "Congratulazioni."
"I could not be more relieved," she said. "My father would be so happy to know that our wines won't be wasted on the wrong people. Getting these wines into the hands of the right people is the only way to ensure that we'll be here another 100 years. Those scores mean less than nothing to us, you know?"
I tell this story in part to wonder at how far Italian wines have come in just nine years. Back then, journalists missed the essence of Italian wines--you can't judge them with scoring systems, mechanically drinking dozens at once and expecting them to be ready because you want them to be ready, and some wine writers have learned this lesson. I also tell this story to encapsulate just how unique Bartolo and Maria Teresa are. Neither of them has ever cared what the wine public thought about their wines. They make their Barolos as traditionalists and iconoclasts, resolute that people will recognize beauty when they see it--or not. I do, and so do my clients.
Today, I'm very proud to present seven vintages of Mascarello Barolo, each one collectable, not only for the wine in the bottle but also for its label. Nearing the end of his life, Bartolo was confined to a wheelchair, so he was confined to his office as Maria Teresa took over winemaking. To pass the time, he began painting wine labels. During his lifetime, he would affix these special labels to friends' bottles, and after his passing, Maria Teresa found several hundred of these labels, scanned them, and places the copies on a tiny number of bottles each vintage. These are the Mascarello Barolos I'm presenting today, and I could not be more proud.
And if Mascarello isn't your thing, there's also a bottle of Château Pétrus 1950 Pomerol or Mommessin 2011 Clos de Tart Grand Cru!