My next stop after the tasting of Barbaresco 2009 has been at Cascina Morassino. It isn’t exactly a famous winery, as confirmed by the fact that I was the only (!) journalist to be lured by the prospect of a vertical tasting here. Yet Morassino has been coming top of my blind tasting of Barbaresco three years in a row. Surely that means they’re pretty good?
In the end I had a solitary tasting with owner Mauro Bianco and it was just spectacular. Cascina Morassino is a small estate producing just 20K bottles per year. The quality comes from the vineyard, most of Mauro’s grapes coming from the renowned Ovello vineyard where some of the vines are over 50 years old and the exposure is one of the best in Barbaresco. From the core of old vines in the highest part of the cru comes the Barbaresco Ovello, aged a year in new small oak (barrique) followed by another year in large oak. The other Barbaresco Morassino also comes from Ovello, but from lower, less exposed parts of the vineyard and sees large oak only. There is also a delicious Dolcetto as well as a structured and serious Langhe Nebbiolo. The surprise came from a Langhe Rosso 2009 which in fact is a 100% Merlot and I’m ashamed to say I actually liked it – it is herbaceous but ripe and fruit without excess.
We tasted through a number of vintages including the 2009 and 2005 Morassino, two good showings for this lighter bottling here, the former very tannic and in need of long ageing but already displaying generous fruit and breadth that made me pick this up as one of the vintage’s overperformers. The 2005 shows a nice abundant sweetness of fruit coupled with minerality and some leafy, vegetal character for refreshment; enjoyable but a bit stern.
The Ovello is made in a quintessential reformed modern style, but has enough structure to eat up its oak fairly quickly. The 2009 will be a long ager (unlike most 2009s) while the 2002 offers a nice insight into the ageing of a lesser vintage: already pretty advanced it has a nice fat sweet plump fruitiness to it, and is cruising at good speed at age 10. The most exciting wine of the tasting was the Ovello 2006, very powerful and richly textured and just overwhelming with its nose of dried fruits and balsamic. The tannins are abundant but polished and although in a big style, the wine is very balanced. I could still taste it twenty minutes after leaving the winery. Theoretically Morassino is a second-tier estate but this visit confirmed my blind tasting impression: this is one of Barbaresco’s consistent overachievers. And the prices are benign: 22€ for the Morassino and 29€ for the Ovello.
My trip to Piedmont including flights, accommodation and wine tasting programme is sponsored by the Albeisa association of wine producers.