Soil: Barolo commune Vineyards: Clay with some Tufa and varying amounts of Sand. La Morra commune Vineyard: Clay with significant inter-fingerings of Sand
Viticulture: Traditional, conventional. Rows are spaced at 2.5 meters and plants at 90-100 cms. Average age of vines is about 25 years, ranging from 60-70 years old in the San Lorenzo to newly replanted plots in Cannubi. We do not use chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Composted cow manure is used for fertilization and mechanical mowing is used to keep cover plants under control. Sulfur and copper are used during the season to combat oidium and peronospora. Vines are unirrigated (by DOCG laws).
Vinification: The four vineyards’ production is co-fermented in 3-4 large concrete tanks. The tank does not have an internal temperature control system but fermentation temperatures are monitored daily and the must is cooled with a cold-water heat exchanger if it exceeds 31C. We do not keep each vineyard’s grapes separate during the fermentation; they are mixed together as they arrive at the cantina. No single-vineyard “cru” Barolo is made. The fermentation typically occurs from indigenous yeasts, but we will add yeast if necessary. Pump-overs are performed twice a day. Once fermentation is complete (typically 15-18 days), the wine is left to macerate on the skins (submerged cap) for an additional few weeks. The total length of maceration (including the fermentation time) is from 30 to 50 days, and is generally the only variable in the winemaking for the Barolo on a year-to-year basis and is based entirely on the qualitative character of the vintage. The cantina uses a gentle hydraulic basket press.
Aging: The Barolo is stored in large botti (casks) of Slavonian Oak for about 30 months in a natural ageing cellar. The wine is racked once each year, then bottled in late July three years after the vintage. Malolactic fermentation is not forced and occurs in the botti. The botti range from 25 to 50 hectoliters and average 10-12 years of age. The bottles are held for an additional year until the following September when the wine is released in the fourth year after the vintage.
Publication: Wine advocate
The 1990 Barolo (magnum) is fat, opulent and fuller in body than the 1989, showing exceptional richness and length. The warmth of the vintage is evident in ripe, almost candied tones in the fruit that recall Pinot Noir. There is wonderful integrity in the glass, as autumn leaves, tobacco and licorice gradually emerge to round out this beautiful Barolo. This, too, combines elements of etherealness and weight in a style that is uniquely Mascarellian. The firm tannins should allow the 1990 to continue to keep nicely for many years, although at some point the structural elements will likely dominate in the wine's balance. Today, the 1990 Barolo is magnificent. Ideally the wine is best opened several hours in advance. I tasted the same bottle roughly 12 hours apart on the same day, and it had improved dramatically with air. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2025.