Franco Massolino (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
I’ve been a fan of the various Barolos from the renowned Serralunga d’Alba producer Massolino for almost twenty years now. Traditionally made, these wines represent their origins beautifully and have what the Piemontese call anima – soul.
A few words about Massolino. Established in 1896 by Giovanni Massolino, the winery is now managed by the fourth generation of the family, headed by brothers Franco and Roberto, both enologists. The focus of the estate has always been Barolo from Serralunga, home to classically-structured Barolos that are built for long haul. The tannins are firm, yet beautifully balanced, and the wines always display admirable harmony. Franco Massolino told me once, for an article I was writing, that the style of Serralunga Barolo emerged after 20 or 25 years; “this is the business card of Serralunga,” he remarked.
Today, Massolino produces five different Barolo offerings: the classic, made exclusively from grapes grown in various Serralunga subzones, and four single vineyard wines. These include three from Serralunga: Parafada, Margheria and Vigna Rionda (made as a riserva) and one from the neighboring commune of Castiglione Falletto, Parussi.
The winery has recently released four Barolos from the 2013 vintage, a year that will please true lovers of Barolo. This is a classic vintage, one that offers tremendous depth of fruit; the last vintage that displayed similar concentration was 2006 and before that, 1996; these vintages are still quite young, and it will be another 10-20 years before they are at peak. The finest examples of 1996 and 2006 Barolos should peak when they are 35-40 years of age, and having tasted more than 150 examples of Barolo from 2013, I believe these wines are similarly styled and will need another 20 years to start to show their best qualities. (I only hope that I live long enough to taste those wines then!)
I recently tasted three of the 2013 Massolino Barolos: Margheria, Parafada and Parussi. Here are notes on these wines, which are all traditionally made, aged in botti; these large casks have mimimal wood influence and allow the varietal purity, as well as the vineyard characteristics to emerge in the finished wines.
Margheria – Rich, young garnet color; aromas of cedar, red cherry, thyme and rose petals. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Very good acidity, rich tannins, impressive persistence. The finish is a bit disjointed now, and this wine needs time to settle down. The fruit is of excellent quality and the winemaking is impressive; it’s just that I’m tasting this wine several months too soon, as it is not as elegant as a typical Massolino Barolo at the moment. This should be in excellent shape given time, but for now, it’s a little bit clumsy, yet it is is impressive. Best in 12-15 years, perhaps longer. Excellent
Parussi – While the Massolino family has always prided itself on its Serralunga roots, they purchased a section of the Parussi vineyard in Castiglione Falletto a little more than five years ago. I’ve loved the elegance of this particular Barolo, especially next to their Serralunga offerings, and this newly released 2013 Parussi, is especially refined. Lovely bright garnet; beautiful floral aromas of red and orange roses, along with notes of sour cherry. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Lovely harmony, very good acidity, subtle wood notes, graceful tannins, excellent persistence; a long, long, graceful finish. Elegant wine with expressive Nebbiolo fruit and a gentle winemaking hand. Lovely, lovely wine – peak in 20 years plus. Outstanding
Parafada – Aromas of red and black cherry and black plum. Full-bodied with excellent depth of fruit – beautifully defined mid-palate. Excellent ripeness, big youthful tannins, very good acidity, subtle wood, and notes of black spice in the finish. Huge wine, but always balanced and never overpowering.
Classic Serralunga style – tightly wrapped, needing years to unravel and display all its complexities. Outstanding persistence, a superb example of Nebbiolo purity. One of the finest releases I have ever tasted from this great traditional producer. A true classic – peak in 30-35 years, perhaps longer. Monumental
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