About this WINE
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.
Dolcetto d'Alba is a DOC zone producing wines exclusively from the Dolcetto grape. D'Alba is one of the seven Dolcetto zones in Piedmont, the others being Acqui, Asti, Diano d' Alba, Ovada and Dogliani, as well as the less significant Langhe Monregalesi. D'Alba is regarded as the finest-quality zone of all for Dolcetto.
Dolcetto is an important Piedmontese grape, and the antithesis of Nebbiolo. It ripens a month earlier and produces wines that are low in acid yet high in tannins. Planted on the sites spurned by Nebbiolo and Barbera, Dolcetto is most suited to the light, white, sandy, calcareous tufa soils that are common in and around Barbaresco. It is generally made in an unoaked style to accentuate its natural violet perfume and juicy, bitter cherry and almond fruit. Dolcetto d’Alba is the grape’s most highly-regarded incarnation and makes the perfect antipasti wine.
Recommended producers: Diano, Dogliani
A native black grape variety of Northern Italy grown almost exclusively in the provinces of Cuneo and Alessandria in Piedmont. It is relatively easy to cultivate, although it is susceptible to fungal diseases. It ripens before Barbera and Nebbiolo and is often grown in high north-facing sites which would be unsuitable for Nebbiolo.
The finest Dolcetto wines come from grapes grown on soils rich with white marls, especially those found on the right bank of the River Tauro. The wines generally are low in tannins and acidity and are usually fruity and fragrant, often with hints of almonds. Most Dolcettos should be drunk within a year or two of the vintage, but the wines from the best producers can last for 5 years and sometimes longer.