Cantina Mascarello: The Barolos of Bartolo & Giulio Mascarello 1952-1971
@ Bar Boulud, NYC (4/16/2012)

Mannie Berk of The Rare Wine Co. set up this dinner, which included a vertical of Cantina Mascarello Barolo from 1971 back to 1952. As the first flight (from 1970 & 1971) was being served, I was struck by the fact that we were starting with 1971, then going backward in time. Other wine geeks and I often debate whether a vertical should go oldest to youngest, or youngest to oldest. I don't think I have ever started a youngest to oldest tasting with a 40 year old wine. I mentioned this to the group at the time, and there was a general murmur of agreement, and a clear sense that we were about to experience something quite special. The evening did not disappoint.

Here is the email announcing this dinner. The food at Bar Boulud was very good. The service was excellent. All the wines were opened and double-decanted between 5 and 6pm, working from youngest to oldest. The dinner started around 7:45 and lasted till around 10:30pm.

Cantina Mascarello is best known today as the winery of the late great Bartolo Mascarello (who died in 2005). However, the name on the label of these wines was changed from Cantina Mascarello to Bartolo Mascarello only starting with the 1982 vintage. The wines we tasted this night all predate that by quite a bit. In fact, most of these wines were made by Bartolo's father, Giulio. Giulio was active in the winery during all the vintages tasted here. Bartolo only joined him during the 1960s. Giulio lived until 1981.

Much more information on Cantina Mascarello and their wines, as well as detailed photos of many bottles (including those from this dinner) can be found on the Fine Wine Geek Bartolo Mascarello Barolo Page.

Some of these wines had the vineyard name Cannubi at the bottom of the label, some did not. I ignored this in my designations and descriptions because I believe it is meaningless. All these Barolos were a blend from 4 vineyards (including Cannubi).

On the other hand, the designation of Riserva found on many of these wines is meaningful. Legally, it meant the wine had spent another year ageing before release. It may have also been from the better barrels, but there is no confirmation of that. On this evening, we had the good fortune to taste a non-riserva and a riserva side by side in four vintages (1964, 1961, 1958, 1952). In all but the 1952, the riserva was clearly the superior wine.

All the bottles in this tasting came from the cellar of Mannie Berk. Like other Rare Wine Co. dinners, Mannie had meticulously collected these bottles over many years. Their provenance was impeccable. A few of the bottles had labels in very poor condition. (See photos below.) These bottles were purchased by Mannie many years ago from a cellar in Turin where they were stored buried in sand. This was good for the wines, but not so good for the labels.

This is the first dinner I've attended focused entirely on Cantina Mascarello. There was a flight of these wines at this dinner and at this dinner.

For any image, click on it for a larger view of that image which may contain more picture.

The Venu

Bar Boulud. The main room at Bar Boulud.
Empty bottles at the entrance to the cellar. The main cellar & hall to our room.
The Sommelier room in the cellar ... ... where we will have dinner.
l to r: Attendee Jeff Joseph, Wine Director Daniel Johnnes,
Host Mannie Berk.

The Dinner

The menu and list of wines.

The Group.

Flight 1: 1971, 1970 Mascarello Barolos & Moresco Barbarescos
With Betteraves et Roquette: Roasted Red Beets, Baby Arugula, Apple, Golden Beet and Goat Cheese 'Terrine', Spiced Pumpkin Seeds.

Flight 2: 1967, 1964
With Agnolotti de Porc: Braised Heritage Red Wattle Pork Agnolotti, Morels and Spring Vegetable Ragu, Buttermilk Pork Jus.

Flight 3: 1961, 1958, 1957
With Canard Rôti: Stone Church Farm Duck Breast, Braised Swiss Chard, Rhubarb Confit, Smoked Shallot, Duck Jus

Flight 4
Degustation de Fromage (l to r): Fontina Val d'Aosta, Robiola Bosnia, Pleast Ridge Reserve, and Candied Walnuts, Satsuma Marbalade, and Raisin Bread


This was an extraordinary event. I doubt I will ever again get to taste so many vintages from this great winery in this era in one tasting. It was a very special experience which only increased my appreciation of what this father and son did over the course of so many decades. Many thanks to Mannie Berk for collecting these wines over the years and putting on this great tasting.

There were some at this dinner that liked the last flight best and said those wines were the most Burgundian. I think I like my Cantina Mascarello Barolos a little younger than that. My favorite flight was Flight 3, and my favorite wines from this tasting were the 1961 Riserva, 1964 Riserva, 1958 Riserva, and the 1970 non-riserva.

So the good news for me is that I don't have to wait 50-60 years to drink my younger Bartolo Mascarello Barolos, only 40-50. ;)

My notes posted from CellarTracker.

You can find Matt Neel's notes on this dinner here on CellarTraker as well.

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All original content © Ken Vastola