Rare Bartolo Mascarello Chinato

Posted by Ian McFadden

The only bottle of Mascarello's Chinato that I've seen or tasted is one that I purchased there a few years ago.

I've been searching for it ever since. It's an exceedingly rare thing to find. The estate releases tiny quantities every few years.

photo of bottle of Mascarello, B Vino Chinato

Chinato is a Piedmont tradition stretching back to the 19th century. The easiest way to describe Chinato is a cross between a fortified wine and the king of vermouths. Each family's recipe is a closely guarded secret recipe of herbs, bark, and spices. (China is the Italian word for quinine bark, a bittering agent used in Chinato.) The flavor spectrum that it delivers is insane, ranging from bitter to sweet, with a mix of spices and herbs. All of this is delivered with a comforting elegance.

When you look around the internet for information on Mascarello's Chinato, there's not much to be found. Thankfully, Ken Vestola's Fine Wine Geek site is a great resource. Vestola highlights the changes in the regulations beginning in 1980 that made it difficult for Barolo producers to release Chinatos. In Mascarello's case, Bartolo's father, Giulio, released a Chinato up until 1980 and from then until 2017 the Mascarello family only made some bottles as gifts. In 2017, the laws gave producers more flexibility to produce Chinatos.

The two Chinatos that are somewhat available in the U.S. and thought most highly of are Cappellano's (likely the original Chinato) and Roagna's. Compared to both of these, Mascarello's is a lighter style. Mascarello's version has plenty of depth but shows a more pointed complexity of spices and herbs than velvety harmony. It's an appealing Chinato.

Before wrapping up, I should mention that quantities are extremely limited. We doubt these bottles will stick around for long.

To order, email offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden
Director, Fine & Rare
Crush Wine & Spirits