Wednesday, May 18, 2011
A Visit to Bartolo Mascarello
Maria Teresa Mascarello - Bartolo's daughter - who has been at the head of the Cantina for several years now.
The tasting room.
To me, it says something that this was the art chosen for the room. These are vineyard workers, and the style is rustic. There is an immensity to the size of the artwork that mirrors the immensity of the work these actors engage in.
A bottle of the hand blown style, the type common to this region back in the 1970's and before.
There was a functionality as well as a stylishness about this setup that sort of summed up Bartolo Mascarello for me.
I believe this is sealing wax. I thought this was really beautiful in its way.
Maria Teresa leads us to the cellar.
Cement fermentation tanks.
A wooden wine press. This is the only time that I see one of these during my trip.
This isn't a Marcel Duchamp Readymade. This rack is in active use.
I believe this is Chestnut. I could be wrong about that.
Next year's Freisa offering. The 2009 was just bottled.
I don't believe these are still in active use. But to me, it was instructive that they had been kept here in the cellar. That seemed in keeping with the philosophy of the place, and of the continuation of a legacy.
The packaging room.
The cellarman. He seemed to me a gentle soul.
Creating these sorts of small decorations seems to be a kind of family trait.
A kindred spirit.
Carefully wrapping a bottle for future shipment.
Maria Teresa takes us for a drive out to the vineyards.
It becomes clear that Maria Teresa is a good driver, and also that she adores her tough old model Fiat Panda 4X4. This car was a trooper, let me tell you. All terrain, no issue. Alex at Brovia was also a big proponent of just this sort of Fiat. "The Panda can do it, no problem" he said more than once.
The Rue vineyard. San Lorenzo is in the distance to the right.
Rue, looking left. Cerequio and Brunate are in the distance. Gaja's Cerequio vines are laid out vertically against the slope. They stand out from the others pretty clearly.
Here are laid out some of the greatest vineyards of Barolo and La Morra.
A closeup of the vines at Rue.
Maria Teresa seemed most comfortable when she was amongst the vines. Panda in the background.
You get a sense of the incline of Rue in this picture.
Maria Teresa stops to pull out a weed from amongst the vines. She did this a few times. For me it was a tell-tale gesture. Sure I'm giving you a tour, but it is the vines that take priority. That was the mind set. I can only applaud the sensibility. I honestly don't recall being in the past on any vineyard tour where someone pulled out a weed.
The San Lorenzo vineyard.
A closeup of San Lorenzo. You can see the missing vines in the rows. Maria Teresa said that she would rather not replant vines one by one. Rather, she will wait, and when the time comes, replant the entire parcel at once.
The Rocche vineyard (of La Morra).
Looking up the incline of Rocche.
That's right, it's steep.
A look down a vineyard row near the top of Rocche.
Looking down another Rocche vineyard row, this one closer to the bottom of the vineyard (near to the road).
Amongst these flowers there were crickets, and they spoke to each other as I approached. Think about that. There was life amongst these vines. We talk about biodynamic farming and cover crops, but for me I think it now comes down to whether or not there are crickets in your vineyard. As soon as I heard them, I knew I wanted to work a harvest here. Luckily for me, Maria Teresa said that I could when I asked her.
This little guy brushed my hand as he came out from the inside of the vineyard post. He startled me, but I was glad to see him (her?).
Welcome to Cannubi, one of the greatest vineyards on the planet.
The little hut is a tool shed.
This prime parcel of Cannubi once held very old vines. Maria Teresa removed them as they fell victim to disease, and planted these crops to reenrich the soil. Next year she will replant this parcel to vines.
A look up Cannubi. At the top of the vineyard there is a road that acts as a border.
Maria Teresa gives me this very fragrant gift, freshly plucked from the earth.
Maria Teresa planted these next to the shed. How many people take the space to do that sort of thing in a vineyard where every vine equates to real dollars (Lire, Euros, whatever)?
A Cannubi vineyard row.
There's the Panda. It wasn't so easy getting out of this vineyard using the road, let me tell you. But it was no problem for the Panda.
A look out from Cannubi and across the way. How cool would it be to live in that house and look out at Cannubi every day? This was the first vineyard to be recognized by name in all of the Piemonte.
Another Cannubi vineyard row. This one is fairly high up in the vineyard.
We get back, somewhat exhausted, and Maria Teresa shares with us her favorite way of drinking her Barolo Chinato.
A little Chinato.
A little soda water.
Add a cube of ice. And drink.
Almost all gone. That was Yum.
I'd never seen a picture of a young Bartolo before I came across this one in the Cantina.