The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Mascarello and Gravner

Posted on | April 21, 2016 | Written by Camacho Vidal | No Comments

CamachoI like different wines for different reasons but I have my favorite producers, the ones that I get excited about when I see the bottle and know that I’m in for a treat. This week I was lucky enough to taste wines from two of my absolute favorite producers, a Barolo from Bartolo Mascarello and a Merlot blend by Josko Gravner.

I like Old-World wine, wine that has been made the same way for generations, and when it comes to Piemonte and Barolo, Bartolo Mascarello is a name that is synonymous with that tradition. Although a slew of modernist winemakers emerged in the area showing different personalities of the majestic and noble Nebbiolo grape and wanting to make Barolo more approachable, Bartolo Mascarello believed that “Barolo is a wine of patience and it has an ancient, glorious past that cannot be forgotten.” The estate is now run by his daughter Maria Teresa, who has also resisted the temptation and pressures of commercialization and continues along the traditional path, making gorgeous wines that would make her esteemed father proud.

Many people believe that clay amphorae were the first vessels ever to hold and age wine, and historians have verified that winemakers have used this ancient practice for more than 4,000 years. Josko Gravner is a producer who has turned his back on vinification equipment like stainless steel, temperature controls, and barriques, tools that he himself helped pioneer in the area of Friuli. Now he has embraced working with ancient techniques, using amphorae for aging and combining bio-dynamic winemaking with more traditional methods like extended maceration on the grape skins.

Bartolo Mascarello Barolo (Hand Painted Label) 2008 $379.00

This wine greets you with a nose full of red fruit mixed with violets and eucalyptus, and with some twirling in the glass, spice, licorice and a slight tarry earthiness come out. The palate is tight right now with a silky mouth feel and bright acidity that come together mid-palate, leaving a nice, clean, lingering finish. Drink 2018-2038.

Gravner Rujno 1985 $399.00

This wine is still fresh and vibrant. The color is deep ruby purple with a slight orange tinge on the rim that is barely noticeable. The wine is bright and elegant, with black cherry, spices, hints of cocoa and tar, sour cherry and leather all making appearances. The palate is silky with tart, fruity acidity. Woodsy tannins start to sneak in on the mid-palate. It climaxes in a beautifully sweet finish with a bit of heat, and lingering herbal and chocolate notes. Drink 2016-2024.

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