Marcarini Barolo Brunate

A fascinating opportunity to revisit 4 decades of this classic Cru.


Barolo, while experiencing the greatest explosion of interest in its history, remains a bit of an enigma to many winelovers. The greatest wines have percolated their way up to the top of most people’s lists, both in regards to pricing, and esteem, but top wines are never simply about their quality.  Top wines have always also been about their reputation, a reputation determined by those supposedly in the know.

There are a great number of fabulous producers of Barolo who have, for various reasons, not achieved the sort of reputation that makes you famous. The most obvious and egregious of these happens to be the wines of Cappellano. The previous owner Teobaldo Cappellano, who passed away in 2009 had requested that the wine media not reduce his wines to a mere number. As a result most contemporary critics have respectfully refrained from scoring the Cappellano wines, myself included. I have called the wines exceptional and extraordinary, but that’s not enough. Without the high scores to confirm for the wine buying public at large just how good these wines are, and let’s not beat around the bush they are among the very best  of barolo, the wines tend to languish on the shelves. Even today one can find these wines from the last half dozen vintages all at or very near release pricing, which is exceptionally fair I might add. I am talking specifically of the rupestris bottling as opposed to the rare and much more expensive Pie Franco bottling, but I digress.
Another producer whose wines have somehow continued to float under the radar have been those of marcarini in La Morra, though for a different reason as far as i can tell. Here the problem is not critical review, which has historically been quite favorable, but rather pricing. As far as I can tell the barolos of marcarini are just too inexpensive to be considered great by many collectors. Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but what other explanation is there? Today for the sake of argument I am speaking of the barolo Brunate, though in many vintages I am actually partial to their Barolo from the higher elevation La Serra  vineyard. 
Here you have this wine, traditionally made by the experienced hands of Elvio Cogno for decades, born of the heart of the Brunate Cru in La Morra, one of Barolos grand Crus, though admittedly a portion of the vineyard, and a portion of the Marcarini holdings lay across the boundary in the commune of Barolo. It’s a winet  with a rather impressive track record and a history of constancy. And then you go to buy it and it’s $40. The fact that recent vintages seem to lack the spark of the past vintages also doesn’t help the image of Marcarini’s Barolo. But still, there have been enough tastings, and enough positive reviews to support the viewpoint that marcarini is solidly in the second tier of barolo producers. 
Perhaps that’s better kept a secret after all. Because of the wine’s tendency to be undervalued I’ve been able to enjoy a Marcarini vertical of some sort almost every two years for the past eight years. Yesterday I enjoyed my fourth adventure down this path, and while the bottles showed mixed results, on the whole it was another great showing for Marcarini of yore. To be certain these wines are not the most profound wines of Piedmont, and perhaps show some signs of vines that were cropped rather heavily. And at this point in their lives even modest deviations from ideal storage over the year can have a distinct effect, as was the case with the wines of the 70s during this most recent tasting, but none the less these are fabulous wines. 
Just for fun I’ve included my notes from the first Marcarini Vertical I put together, in March of 2007. Those wines all came from my own cellar. The tasting I attended last night was put together by the Rare Wine Company, though I did contribute the three youngest vintages. Seven years have separated the two events. I am as curious as you are to see how the wines stack up, though not every wines tasted last night was included in my tasting seven years ago, though there are enough to make this very interesting. 
We tasted the wines youngest to oldest paired with a fabulous menu at Maialino here in NYC, a fabulous and remarkably wine friendly restaurant that should be on everyone’s list of places to visit when you come to NYC. The wine service was exemplary, as usual and it was a pleasure to be in their caring and knowledgeable hands. Without further ado let’s jump inot the wines.

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