2004 Barolo DOCG, Az. Agr. Cascina Fontana, Piedmont

2004 Barolo DOCG, Az. Agr. Cascina Fontana, Piedmont

Product: 20041144637
Prices start from £450.00 per case Buying options
2004 Barolo DOCG, Az. Agr. Cascina Fontana, Piedmont


Mario remembers 2004 as being a vintage that required lots of work in the vineyard (similar in fact to 2009), time evidently well spent as the wine shows a bright heart of lush darker fruit, a herbal, savoury edge, a broader, fuller feel, while the firm tannins remain as fine-tuned as ever. Still getting into its stride, this is a traditional Barolo that would benefit from a couple more years in bottle before broaching, further improving till 2020 at least. One for beef.
(David Berry Green)
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6 x 75cl bottle
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About this WINE

Cascina Mario Fontana, Piedmont

Cascina Mario Fontana, Piedmont

Sixth-generation Barolo producer Mario Fontana set out on his own in 1995, and since then has been refining his style with every vintage.

Mario tends the vines as sensitively as possible, makes the wine and, when necessary, also delivers it in his blue van. He favours the traditional approach to making Barolo: blending all his Nebbiolo vineyards to make one wine, aged for two years in large Slavonian oak barrels, then one year in stainless steel and an additional year in bottle before release.

His philosophy harks back to the lessons learnt from his grandfather. “I was brought up with the smell of fermentations in my nostrils,” he explains. Today he still puts vats outside during winter to allow them to stabilise naturally, and won’t move wine or prune under the new moon.

His Barolo is arguably the most Burgundian in our range, with a purity and classical finesse which Mario prides himself on. These are cerebral wines which will surprise and delight.

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Located due south of Alba and the River Tanaro, Barolo is Piedmont's most famous wine DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), renowned for producing Italy's  finest red wines from 100 percent Nebbiolo

Its red wines were originally sweet, but in 1840 the then extant Italian monarchy, the House of Savoy, ordered them to be altered to a dry style. This project was realised by French oenologist Louis Oudart, whose experience with Pinot Noir had convinced him of Nebbiolo's potential. The Barolo appellation was formalised in 1966 at around 1,700 hectares – only a tenth of the size of Burgundy, but almost three times as big as neighbouring Barbaresco.

Upgraded to DOCG status in 1980, Barolo comprises two distinct soil types: the first is a Tortonian sandy marl that produces a more feminine style of wine and can be found in the villages of Barolo, La Morra, Cherasco, Verduno, Novello, Roddi and parts of Castiglione Falletto. The second is the older Helvetian sandstone clay that bestows the wines with a more muscular style. This can be found in Monforte d'Alba, Serralunga d'Alba, Diano d'Alba, Grinzane Cavour and the other parts of Castiglione Falletto. Made today from the Nebbiolo clones Lampia, Michet and Rosé, Barolo has an exceptional terroir with almost every village perched on its own hill. The climate is continental, with an extended summer and autumn enabling the fickle Nebbiolo to achieve perfect ripeness.

Inspired by the success of modernists such as Elio Altare, there has been pressure in recent years to reduce the ageing requirements for Barolo; this has mostly been driven by new producers to the region, often with no Piedmontese viticultural heritage and armed with their roto-fermenters and barriques, intent on making a fruitier, more modern style of wine.

This modern style arguably appeals more to the important American market and its scribes, but the traditionalists continue to argue in favour of making Barolo in the classic way. They make the wine in a mix of epoxy-lined cement or stainless-steel cuves, followed by extended ageing in 25-hectoliter Slavonian botte (barrels) to gently soften and integrate the tannins. However, even amongst the traditionalists there has been a move, since the mid-1990s, towards using physiologically (rather than polyphenolically) riper fruit, aided by global warming. Both modernist and traditional schools can produce exceptional or disappointing wines.

Recommended traditionalist producers:
Giacomo Borgogno, Giacomo Conterno, Bruno Giacosa, Elio Grasso, Marcarini, Bartolo Mascarello and Giuseppe Mascarello.

Recommended nmdernist producers:
Azelia, Aldo Conterno, Luciano Sandrone, Paolo Scavino and Roberto Voerzio

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Nebbiolo is the grape behind the Barolo and Barbaresco wines and is hardly ever seen outside the confines of Piedmont. It takes its name from "nebbia" which is Italian for fog, a frequent phenomenon in the region.

A notoriously pernickety grape, it requires sheltered south-facing sites and performs best on the well-drained calcareous marls to the north and south of Alba in the DOCG zones of Barbaresco and Barolo.

Langhe Nebbiolo is effectively the ‘second wine’ of Piedmont’s great Barolo & Barbarescos. This DOC is the only way Langhe producers can declassify their Barolo or Barbaresco fruit or wines to make an early-drinking style. Unlike Nebbiolo d’Alba, Langhe Nebbiolo can be cut with 15% other red indigenous varieties, such as Barbera or Dolcetto.

Nebbiolo flowers early and ripens late, so a long hang time, producing high levels of sugar, acidity and tannins; the challenge being to harvest the fruit with these three elements ripe and in balance. The best Barolos and Barbarescos are perfumed with aromas of tar, rose, mint, chocolate, liquorice and truffles. They age brilliantly and the very best need ten years to show at their best.

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Customer reviews


Critic reviews

Cranberry and pomegranate scented. That Fontana- delicacy shining through in this finely balanced, subtle wine. Flecked with cinnamon and dried rose petals. The tannins are unmistakably tenacious but so polished they gleam in the mouth.
(Tamlyn Currin - jancisrobinson.com - 25 Mar 2010) Read more