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March 27, 2014

Marcarini Barolo Brunate and La Serra 2010 New Releases

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Over the last few months we have tasted many of the superb 2010 Barolos. It is axiomatic that the expensive leading names take prominence, yet given the extraordinary quality of the vintage we have been searching for a wine for under £30 a bottle duty and VAT paid which offers immense value and quality. Marcarini is a well-known and revered producer and offers exactly this for £26 a bottle.

The epic 2010 vintage marked Manuel Marchetti’s twentieth since leaving Mexico to marry his wife Luisa Marcarini and subsequently assenting to their Cantina in the great village of La Morra. Here in La Morra the high preponderance of calcareous marl produces more fragrant wines. Today their Estate boasts 25 hectares, 21 hectares under vine, amorously boarded by hazelnut trees.

The Jewel in the crown is the superb south-facing amphitheatre style vineyards that are ‘Brunate’ and the more elevated south-facing slope of ‘Le Serra’, which scored 92-94 and 91-93 points respectively from Antonio Galloni. La Serra is sited on top of a hill with a wonderful elevation of 400 metres, where it receives continuous ventilation and resultantly delivers the greater floral and feminine style of Barolo. Marcarini’s holdings are the largest of any estate here, currently standing at 5.5 hectares. This vineyard is very sheltered and the wines are very concentrated with great structure in a style Manuel describes as ‘harmonious and elegant’.

There are two main schools of winemaking in Barolo, traditionalists and modernists. Traditionalist create big tannic wines with beguiling aromas requiring longer aging times, while modernists use rotary fermentors, shorter maceration times and small French barrique for earlier drinking and fruitier wines. That Marcarini is a proud traditionalist there can be no doubt.

One of the tenants of traditional Barolo is that the final blend should come from multiple vineyards, with each vineyard providing something different such as aromatics, rich fruit and structure. Marcarini vinifies separately following careful grading of the bunches during the harvest. The vineyard’s crus are called ‘Fontanazza’ and ‘Boschi di Berri’ and have a total surface area of 4.25 hectares. Yields are rigorously managed and planted at a density of 4,000 rootstocks per hectare. The vines are trained in a free-standing espalier and are Guyot pruned; the vines have an average age over 25 years.

In the cellar fermentation methods once again reflect tradition, accomplished in 100 hectolitres vats at 28-30°, whereby the must remains in contact with the destemmed marc. Tradition and the old-style dictates and employs result in an extended six week period of maceration. After drawing-off the wine it ages in (20/40 hl) oak casks followed by a further selection during fining by storing in ‘albeisa’ bottles, which are laid on their side in their oldest cellar. The cellars are a found in a glorious  XVII Century building panoramically set against a medieval tower.

We were hugely impressed with Marcarini’s 2010 offering their Brunate and La Serra. This high quality was serendipitously reaffirmed when we tasted a bottle of their 1988 in Napa Valley at a lunch with some of California’s leading figures and sommeliers. Tasted in conjunction with eight other hugely impressive wines all in attendance agreed that the Marcarini, La Morra, Brunate 1988 stole the show. The 1988 displayed a light ruby with slightly orange edges. On the nose the wine sang, displaying of porcini mushrooms, earthiness, leather and arresting notes of rose. Antonio Galloni has unequivocally stated that ‘2010 is the greatest young Barolo vintage [he has] tasted in 18 years of visiting the region and a lifetime of buying, cellaring and drinking these wines’. It stands to reason therefore that the 2010 will offer all the complexity of the ’88 and more over the coming years.

In terms of style the Brunate tends to lend itself to greater intensity and tonality of colour than La Serra, offering a garnet red, with ruby-red reflections. The 2010 represents the earthy old style resonating lovely harmony and fruit concentration, displaying blackcurrants, cherry and plum, black olive enveloped with light hints of vanilla, sweet spices, tobacco, hay, pine and menthol. The tannins are present and ripe, while the acidity provides a wonderful freshness with a superb overall balance; quite stunning! Le Serra is more perfumed and fragrant with rose petal and Turkish delight aromas leaping from the glass, with a pervasive tonality and floral bouquets the wine avowals mint, intense raspberry, cranberry and cherry. The palate is silky, with a gorgeous round and ripe mouthful and already displays a leathery farmyard flavour. Both wines are absolutely stunning and offer extraordinary value at £26 a bottle.

Marcarini Brunate 2010, 6×75 – £120 IB or £158.76 incl. duty and VAT
Antonio Galloni, 92-94 points – tasted Jan 2014
The 2010 Barolo Brunate is initially quite reticent, as young wines from this site often are. Cherry, plum, clove, menthol and pine notes unfold as the 2010 begins to show off its rich, dramatic personality. A rich Barolo bathed in fruit and tannin, the 2010 is going to need quite a bit of time to fully meld together, but all of the raw elements are there for that to happen. The resonant, enveloping finish is impossible to resist.

Marcarini La Serra 2010, 6×75 – £120 IB or £158.76 incl. duty and VAT
Antonio Galloni, 91-93 points – tasted Jan 2014
Marcarini’s 2010 Barolo La Serra is laced with freshly cut flowers, mint, crushed rocks and red fruit. High-toned floral and spice notes abound in a bright, chiseled Barolo built for the cellar. The vivid, crystalline finish is particularly of note.

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