6th generation Mario Fontana, along with his late mother Elda, wife Luisa and their two boys Edoardo & Vasco, created Azienda Agricola Cascina Fontana, this tiny 5ha jewel of a Barolo estate in 1995. Based in the hamlet of Perno they own parcels in three Castiglione Falletto vineyards: Valletti, Villero and Pozzo; in Sinio just beyond Serralunga & also in La Morra’s Gallinotto from vintage 2008. Mario tends the vines as sensitively as possible, makes the wine and, when necessary, also delivers it in his blue van.
He prefers the traditional approach to making Barolo wine: blending all his Nebbiolo vineyards to make one wine; the sum of the parts; a thoroughly consistent wine from one year to the next; a 15-20 day stainless-steel cuvaison; 2 years in large 25 hl slavonian barrels (a 30 year old chestnut barrel!), followed by 1 year now in cement and 1 year in bottle pre-release. His philosophy harks back to the lessons learnt from his grandfather Saverio – “I was brought up with the smell of fermentations in my nostrils” – to the extent that he continues to place vats outside during winter to stabilize naturally, and will not move wine nor prune with the new moon. In addition Mario goes the extra mile in quality control, performing one hundred checks on the wine prior to bottling. Traditional and contemporary winemaking at its best, and best enjoyed with food.
> Essentially organic but will resort to chemicals if absolutely necessary.
Barolo del comune di Castiglione Falletto
2017 Dolcetto d’Alba – tasted Feb’18 from tank (imbott Maggio’18), 13%, 100% from a single vineyard ‘Vigna del Castello?’ in the village of Sinio just beyond Serralunga d’Alba, whose cool soils alternate between clay & marne, distinct blueberry/violet twang, minerally cool, black cherry, cioccolato fondente, juicy, generous, a sense of thicker skins…
2016 Barbera d’Alba – tasted Feb’18 from tank (imbott Maggio ’18), 13.5%, remains a 50/50 cement/barriques affinamento, blending 60% fruit from fruity Sinio & 40% from classy Castiglione! Indeed, creamy kirsch & blueberry notes; CF suave, succulent even, bright exciting acidity, classy flow of mid-palate, smooth blueberry fruit.
2015 Barbera d’Alba – 14%, c.5k bts, 50% cement, 50% barriques, fruit from both Sinio & Castiglione Falletto (Pozzo), lots of sweet red fruit, cerise (from the french oak), suave, joyful, violets?, such an effortless, fragrant flow of (kirsch?) Castiglione class!
2016 Langhe Nebbiolo – tasted from tank Feb ’18 (imbott Maggio’18 with 30 mg free & 60 mg total), 14%, in this vintage 65% Sinio fruit, 35% from Pozzo vyd in Castiglione Falletto, aged for 12 mths in 10Hl slavonian oak. Focus, bright, limpido, cool cassis crochante, fantastic zip of cerise, flowing, suave, morbidissimo, flows like a river…
2015 Langhe Nebbiolo – 14%, c.6k bts, 66% fro Sinio, 33% Castiglione Falletto, 10/15 days on skins in s/s then 12 mths in 10HL Garbellotto botte: sapid, acciughe (anchovy), high tone red berried, cassis, fruit, exhilarating, tonico, transparent, pure; to taste, lots of crunchy little red berries, wild strawberry?, alpine herbs, fluid, pacy, lovely balance & fine, firm fruit tannins…
2014 Barolo – tasted from cement Feb ’18, with bottling due later in the month; Mario decided not to make a Barolo del comune di Castiglione Falletto in the 2014 vintage, so this is very much a ‘super-Barolo’, with a higher percentage of Castiglione Falletto (75%) than in vintage 2013 when it was at 60%. The remaining 25% comes from their La Morra Giachino vyd (aka Gallinotto). At this stage, re-assuringly closed, cupo, with distinct ‘china’/quinine, bright (Castiglione Falletto?) cassis & rose & rosemary scent, along with more La Morra characters of earthiness & aranciato/orange peel notes; the quality of Castiglione Falletto perhaps more evident on the tight, more chiselled palate, with a gleam of coiled cassis, taut, exciting, sapid…
2013 Barolo – c. 12k bts, but a sample from cement, to be bottled in May’17, 40% La Morra fruit, 60% Castiglione Falletto, drawn from three vineyards (Giachini, Villero, Valletti), 20 days on the skins in s/s, 2 yrs in 25HL Garbellotto, 1 yr in cement prior to bottling. Gleaming red/orange garnet; compact, taut, herbal, hint of menthol, orange skin La Morra margins, a mass of tight red cassis fruit that’s difficult to pull apart at this stage…needs bottle & time!
2013 Barolo del comune di Castiglione Falletto – c.4k bts, a sample from cement, Mario honours his inspirational grandfather Saverio with this 100% Nebbiolo/Barolo del Castiglione Falletto, drawn from the Villero & Valletti vineyards: the former giving peachy sunny rose petal fruit; the latter’s white soils giving verticality, a spine & zing! Tighter, more compact, more etherealm with dried rose, medicinal, gleaming red pearls, white stone, voluminoso, pulpy yet strict, to the point! Racy, energetico, that Valletti spine keeping the wine taut & upright, with Villero providing the juicy flesh…needs bottle & time!