2003 Mascarello Barolo Monprivato

Posted by CrushWine

The estate of Guiseppe Mascarello is one of the most underrated in the wine world; Mauro Mascarello, the current head of the estate, is a Piedmont legend standing with the giants of traditional Barolo: Giacomo Conterno, Bruno Giacosa and Bartolo Mascarello. Because of our long-standing support of Mascarello's famed Barolo Monprivato, we were able to secure one parcel of the 2003 at a special pre-arrival price.

At well under $100, this is one of the greatest deals in all of red winedom. Mascarello's Monprivato is, year in and year out, one of the defining Barolos and in the mammoth 03 vintage, Mauro has crafted a Monprivato that handles its stunning ripeness with pitch-perfect elegance.

Unlike the classically structured monsters that require a big cool cellar and tremendous patience - think 96, 99 and 01 - Mascarello's 2003 Monprivato is drinking with wild abandon right now. In this vintage Mauro was one of the few producers to perfectly nail the delicate balance between outrageous ripeness with definition and finesse. This is one of the few opportunities Piedmont fans will have to indulge in a traditional Barolo that is giving at such a young age - the signature of 1997 echoes softly through the 2003 though this edition is even more concentrated.

Mauro Mascarello, who is his own toughest critic, actually prefers his 2003 to his critically acclaimed 2001. Antonio Galloni at the Wine Advocate reports that Mascarello finds the 2003 has "more power and intensity while also maintaining finesse and a sense of classicism." I have to agree with Mascarello though I have a healthy stash of both vintages in my cellar!

The 2003 Monprivato carries itself fully and proudly across the palate with intense and voluptuous primary fruit that is not in the least bit blousy or clumsy. It has a superb ripeness that is perfectly balanced, immediate and elegantly staining without being heavy or in the least bit fatiguing. This is an intense inner-mouth zero-gravity experience! The fruit is just perfect - ripe and bright all at once with no trace of any stewed notes. Instead, it is overwhelmingly refreshing and exuberant, with beautifully delineated notes of red cherry, blackberry and plum surrounded by roses, orange blossoms and complex spices.

For me, Mascarello's Monprivato is so much about the soaring, diverse aromatics and the 2003 turns up the volume on this front with vivid pulverized dried flowers mingling with spices and cooling minerals all dusted over the 2003's large and luscious frame.

While the super-ripe 2003 vintage presented many potential problems for winemakers all over Europe, the great ones kept an eye on the vineyard and like great Jujutsu Masters turned the momentum of the vintage to their own benefit. Mauro Mascarello has spent many decades among his vines and in 2003 he didn't miss a beat employing severe green harvests to relieve the vines of their undue stress. He also, of course, could rely on superb terroir; the dense soils of Monprivato helped to retain the few drops of water, keeping the vines in the safe zone through the sizzling summer months. As always, the estate stuck to its traditional methods, employing long macerations (up to 30 days), old Slavonian oak botti (no new wood) and bottling without fining or filtering.

*Please note that all customers who purchase the 2003 Monprivato will be guaranteed a one-to-one match at special pre-arrival pricing when the "legend in the making" 2004 Monprivato is released next year.

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