Many would say that the battle between modern and traditional Barolo is over, and that the lines have been blurred into a new category of “classic.” This may be true to some degree. However, I can’t help but notice how the wines of the “traditional” producers have become so popular—and scarce, with prices rising up into the stratosphere. The fact is that the hunt for traditionally-styled Barolo is on, and finding it at a decent price is the real challenge.
This brings me to Cascina Fontana, a true traditional producer, whose prices have yet to jump. However, I don’t see that lasting much longer. Only three months ago it was announced that the 2010 Cascina Fontana was awarded the Tre Bicchieri for Gambero Rosso’s 2015 price guide; it’s only so long now before this property begins to receive major international recognition.
Although this name may be new to you, the fact is that the Fontana family isn’t new to Barolo; they have been making wine for six generations with a close family connection to the house of Bartolo Mascarello. Owner and winemaker, Mario Fontana, oversees every aspect from the vineyard to the bottling and follows the same techniques taught to him by his grandfather. The Barolo is a blend of vineyards (as the true traditionalists insist), primarily from Castiglione Falletto and La Morra. In the winery, their Nebbiolo sees a long maceration in stainless steel followed by a two-year slumber in large Slavonian oak. One major difference here is that Mario ferments and ages each of his vineyard parcels separately and then blends them before bottling for the perfect vintage wine. In other words, the blend can change from vintage to vintage, yet you’re likely to have a more balanced and age-worthy wine even in off years. For Mario, it’s all about letting the Barolo show its true traditional character.
Simply stated, with the popularity of 2010 Barolo, the renewed love of traditional producers, and the recent recognition of Cascina Fontana by Gambero Rosso; this is a wine that deserves much more attention. If you are a fan of Bartolo Mascarello and Giuseppe Rinaldi (Who isn’t?), then it’s time to check out Cascina Fontana.
2010 Cascina Fontana Barolo – The nose was classic Barolo in every way and seemed to reach up from the glass, showing rich plum and cherry, dried spices, balsamic notes, dark floral rose, and crushed fall leaves. On the palate, it was vibrant and surprisingly open for its youth, as notes of tart cherry and minerals were contrasted by ripe tannins with an attractive bitter twang. The finish showed palate-coating tannin with a lingering core of focused red fruit which promises many years of development. There’s so much here to love, and especially at this young stage, I was truly impressed with its highly expressive bouquet. (93 Points) (Morrell)
Article and Tasting Notes by: Eric Guido