'18 Mascarello Santo Stefano Dolcetto - VA issue?

Wondering if anyone else has opened one of these? I opened one last night for our beef shank sauce over pappardelle and while drinkable with some expressive crunchy red cherry, I also found some odd notes on the wine. Immediately I assumed it had been acidified given the prickly mouthfeel. Started second guessing myself that it was VA (or attempt to kill VA) as I picked up some notes between sauerkraut and cabbage as it sat in the glass.
We don’t typically see wines get cooked or compromised during transit here due to our climate and more northern shipping routes, so if I come across faulty bottles that aren’t related to the cork, I tend to believe it was an issue pre-bottling.
These aren’t inexpensive in our market and I still have a few more, so hoping it’s a one off bottle but thought I’d ask if anyone else has opposite or similar experiences.

Kind of just sounds like dolcetto to me, but I’m not fond of the variety. Are you experienced with the grape?

I find VA quite often on many of the wines. But I keep going back. Just be thankful that your bottle said Dolcetto instead of Barolo SS di Perno.

No, I don’t drink that much at all. I tend to stick to Nebbiolo, with only the very occasional Barbera or Dolcetto. If it was only the prickly-ness I wouldn’t have commented. It was the resulting “fermented” character that makes me question whether the wine is sound, so looking for another opinion from someone who has tasted this wine.

As Gary said, G. Mascarello’s Barolos do sometimes show noticeable VA.

I think VA is uncommon with dolcetto, since it is not normally aged that long and is usually aged in steel or some other inert vessel, not wood. Of course, with bad hygiene, VA is always possible.

Dolcetto is somewhat prone to reduction, so I suppose it’s possible what you picked up was some form of that.

Prickliness could also be dissolved CO2, which can be found in wines that aren’t aged that long or moved around a lot. It doesn’t necessarily make them fully fizzy.

Prickly mouthfeel and sauerkraut sounds exactly like malolactic bacteria fault. I’ve seen it way too many times. Other faults often accompany it, but that seems like the only thing you’re describing. When it gets bad, the wine can also smell like vomit and have mousiness.

Had a run of 2014 Mascarello Barbera Scudetto that all had a sour/shrimp/seafood aroma and taste. Just opened the last bottle a couple months ago, undrinkable.

Just to bring this full circle. I decided to open another last night. Poured myself 1 glass and quickly decanted the rest into smaller bottles.
It was great. No hint of anything wrong and I was looking for it.

Maybe something unclean got in the 1st bottle or on the cork, just prior to bottling.

This exactly. What a disappointment. I couldn’t identify the issue, just not good.

I recall a '92 barbera that stank of something like cut geranium stalks. That was a poor vintage but this seemed like it was bacterial, not just poor grapes.

Yes, but it also could be in all of the wine and only causing problems in some bottles. I’ve seen a lot of variation with bacterial issues where they were definitely affecting multiple bottles.

Sounds like a good ol’ geraniol fault!


Thanks. I never knew the chemistry, but the scent was memorable.

I don’t have it at hand, but Matt Kramer, in his wonderful book on Piemontese cuisine, described 1992 as a vintage better suited to frogs and other aquatic life than to grapes. So perhaps that smell resulted from sorbic acid/potassium sorbate used to deal with mold interacting with lactic bacteria, per that citation.