Cascina Fontana, Barolo del Comune di Castiglione Falletto, 2016

$99.99
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Mario Fontana of Cascina Fontana describes his wines as “come una volta” — as in the past. His Cascina has only been around since 1995, but their wines are made like it’s still the 1960s or '70s.

Cascina Fontana is based in the hamlet of Perno. That’s technically in La Morra, but it’s quite close to where his vines are mostly located in Castiglione di Falletto. Castiglione — the smallest of Barolo’s major villages — is special. La Morra, to its west, is known mostly for its elegance and aromas. Serralunga, to its east, is known for power and structure. Castiglione is in the happy middle, and if you needed one word to describe it, it would be “balance”.

Fontana’s traditional techniques accentuate this. Macerations are fairly long — long enough to tame the alcohols — but not as long as some traditionalists, so the wines feel a little fresher and more approachable in youth. The approach with élevage is similar: a long, but not crazy long, two years in large Slavonian oak casks.

Mario’s Barolo is technically a normale, but it is decidedly a cut above most producers’ normales. Fontana produces only one other wine, and no single-vineyard wines, so you can actually think of this as their flagship Barolo. Indeed, the bulk of the grapes in today’s wines come from the renowned site of Villero. Most importantly, the quality is exceptional; it is hard to think of very many sub-$100 Barolos that reach this level.

In addition to his flagship wine, Mario also makes excellent “little” wines like Barbera and Langhe Nebbiolo. These wines are given the same respect and old school treatment as the Barolo. After fermentation and resting in steel tanks they are moved to large botti for an additional 12 months of aging.

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