Mauro Mascarello loves the 1999 vintage, but notes that the wines are a bit tough and hard to taste today. They're more structured than the '98s, he adds, but also rich and fat. Vintage 2000 was a hot year, and a good September with some well-timed rainfall resulted in sugar-laden grapes with very good phenolic maturity. The wines are easier than the '98s, whose tannins are not as round as those of the '99s or '00s, Mascarello adds. The 2001s were also very ripe, he told me, and the crop level was high. Unfortunately, Mascarello did not present the 2001s; rather, he showed me essentially the same Barolos I tasted two years earlier, though of course this time the 1999s and 2000s were in bottle. (Douglas Polaner Selections, New York, NY; W. J. Deutsch & Sons, White Plains, NY; and Classic Wine Imports, Brookline, MA)
($18-$23) Good red-ruby color. Very ripe aromas of kirsch and chocolate. Sweet, rich and chunky, with slightly medicinal flavors of black fruits and menthol. Lot s of material here in a rather unrefined package.
($15-$20; bottled ten days prior to my tasting; 13.2% alcohol, vs. 13.5% for the Bricco) Bright ruby-red. Higher-pitched aromas than the Bricco, with notes of dark berries, licorice, violet and minerals. Conveys a less fleshy but firmer impression owing to almost shockingly firm acids for the vintage. Juicy, tannic and strong.
($26; from a six-year-old vineyard in Monforte that Mascarello describes as a continuation of the Santo Stefano hill) Deep ruby. Aromas of cassis, violet and dark chocolate. Fat and sweet, with intense flavors of cassis, black cherry, violet and spices. But despite the wine's reasonably rich mid-palate, this became increasingly oaky as it opened with aeration, and showed a dryness from wood tannins on the end. This wine began its elevage in a 28-hectoliter oval, but in 2001, according to Mascarello, it was a new cask.
($29; from a blend of 11- and 25-year-old vines) Full ruby. Exotic aromas of dark berries and chocolate. Sweet, full and classic, with enticing flavors of cassis, violet and chocolate and lovely balance. Elegant, structured and quite persistent.
($39-$45) Ruby-red. Aromas of redcurrant, milk chocolate, tobacco, smoke and earth. Sweet and smooth but with a bit less barbera lift than the wine from Santo Stefano. Shows medicinal, Barolo-like notes of kirsch and menthol. Firmly tannic on the aftertaste. These 90-year-old vines produce very small grapes with low acidity but atypically strong tannins for the variety, notes Mascarello.
($22-$29) Moderately saturated amber-red. Cool aromas of red berries, flowers and spices. Sweet on entry, then a bit rustic and medicinal in the middle palate despite possessing good brea dth. Faint suggestion of old barrel. Can't match Mascarello's Barolos for flavor definition or verve but the sweet tannins will not stand in the way of enjoying this wine right now.
($28-$35; the second vintage for this bottling, from 70% nebbiolo, 25% barbera and 5% freisa) Good deep red. Aromas of currant, raspberry and nutty oak, with a light smoky overlay. Fat and sweet but with good grip and spine. Shows the medicinal side of nebbiolo but does not come across as particularly primary. Finishes with slightly dry tannins and a hint of old wood.
($62-$74) Medium amber-edged red. Redcurrant, tobacco, clove, dried flowers and nutty oak on the nose. A bit brighter in the mouth, with the sweetness of the vintage but also sound acidity. Finishes with powdery, fine tannins and lingering sweetness.
($62-$80) Medium amber-edged red. Enticing if rather oaky aromas of red berries, rose petal, cocoa powder and spices. Sweet and juicy in the mouth, with the spicy oak and rose petal character continuing. Then a bit dry-edged on the back, with a lot of wood showing, as well as a suggestion of alcoholic warmth.
($70-$86) Medium amber-edged red. Red cherry, minerals, smoke, chocolate and spices on the nose. Sweet, fat and dense, but with classic Barolo notes of tar and camphor. At once aromatic in the mouth and austere on the back end. Two years ago this seemed a bit less rich than the Villero but today it comes across as solid and serious.
($75-$92) Medium red. Captivating aromas of red cherry, redcurrant, dried rose and flint. Juicy, tight and penetrating, with strong acids giving the flavors superb definition. Not particularly fleshy now but wonderfully aromatic and complex-and easy to taste today. This has a wider range of aromas and flavors than Mascarello's other 2000s.
($60-$76) Medium amber-red. Classic autumnal Barolo aromas of smoke, earth, dried flowers and camphor. Tough and tightly wound today, with a hint of old barrel contributing to the impression of dryness. Today the 2000 seems sweeter and longer, but this in a fearfully closed stage.
($60-$80) Medium red, showing a bit less amber than the Santo Stefano. Perfumed aromas of red cherry, flowers and spices. Sweet, spicy and accessible on the front half, but kept firm by solid, nicely integrated acidity. Then juicy, tight and firmly tannic on the back end, but already showing lovely perfume. In this instance, I clearly prefer this to the 2000 bottling.
($65-$83) Good medium red. Dee p, brooding, superripe aromas of berry jam and marzipan. Sweet in the middle, with ripe flavors of plum, cherry, marzipan, spices and menthol. Then firmly tannic, even a bit tough, on the back, with a hint of dryness. Distinctly muscular wine, also going through a sullen stage.
($72-$88) Medium red with an amber edge. Complex, pure aromas of wild red berries, camphor, tar, dried rose, tobacco and nutty oak. Very sweet on entry, then silky, deep and rich in the middle, with impressive depth and breadth. Youthfully backward and currently hiding more fruit than it's showing, but boasts superb incipient complexity and an explosively long, ripely tannic finish.
(from a portion of the Monprivato hillside replanted in 1988 with a selected clone of michet)) Bright, deep red. Knockout nose offers a kaleidoscope of Barolo scents: red berries, rose petal, bergamo t, white truffle, menthol, eucalyptus, tar, graphite, licorice, tobacco. An explosive, extremely intense wine, with lovely inner-mouth perfume and great palate coverage. Subtle nuances of dried flowers, tobacco, minerals and truffley underbrush. Magically fresh for the vintage, finishing with firm tannic spine and subtle red fruits, flowers and minerals. I retasted this wine in New York alongside the Giacomo Conterno Monfortino from the same vintage and found this to be more complex.