2019 Langhe Nebbiolo, Cascina Fontana, Piedmont, Italy
About this WINE
Sixth-generation Mario Fontana is among Barolo’s best-loved producers. His wines are undeniably the most Burgundian in our range; purity and finesse is as evident in his Dolcetto as his Barolo. Mario follows organic methods but doesn’t seek certification – this would limit his options if his vines needed attention. His philosophy is individual, without peer influence. Barolisti like Mario set a benchmark here; others pursue and imitate – though rarely achieve – his purity and elegance. Fontana’s greatest achievements are rooted in Castiglione Falletto: the wines express the complexity of the village’s terroir. Only made in the best years, their Castiglione Falletto Barolo is one of the region’s finest examples.
Mario decided to bottle his Barolo in August 2021, a little earlier than usual, to capture the wine’s fresh and easy style. He also decided to shorten maceration times. All the Castiglione Falletto fruit is in the Barolo Classico this year, so there is no Barolo di Castiglione Falletto for this vintage. Mario doesn’t consider this a reflection of what he has produced; he wanted to lend more power to the softer style of his Barolo Classico 2018, for which he needed the best wine from the crus that would usually comprise his top cuvée. As a vintage, he finds it immensely appealing – a welcome alternative to the more structured styles of ’17 and ’16.
Langhe is an all-encompassing zone lying due south of Alba and the River Tanaro in the province of Cuneo. Barolo and Barbaresco both lie within its boundaries.
Langhe is also the name of a regional DOC zone, which is used to classify wines made outside of the traditional Piemontese varietal scheme (Nebbiollo, Barbera, Cortese etc). Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc wines from the region are, for example, classified as Langhe DOC.
Effectively the ‘second wine’ of Piedmont’s great Barolo and Barbarescos, the Langhe Nebbiolo DOC is the only way Langhe producers can declassify their Barolo or Barbaresco fruit or wines to make an early-drinking style.
Langhe Nebbiolo can be released onto the market as soon as practicably possible either as a fresh, fruity wine made solely in stainless-steel, or later on having been aged in oak. The Langhe Nebbiolo DOC was created in 1994 along with a plethora of other Langhe DOC wines (so diluting their significance).
Unlike Nebbiolo d’Alba, Langhe Nebbiolo can be cut with 15 percent other red indigenous varieties, such as Barbera or Dolcetto. Leading, quality producers of Barolo and Barbaresco are more inclined to use 100 percent Nebbiolo, recognising its role as a stepping stone, using the fruit from vines that are either too young or poorly situated.
Larger producers tend to use the Langhe Nebbiolo DOC as a valve, declassifying wines destined for Barolo or Barbaresco when the market is difficult. Confusingly Langhe Nebbiolo can also be the declassified wine of Nebbiolo d’Alba.
Recommended producers: Giovanni Rosso di Davide Rosso , Mario Fontana , Ferdinando Principiano
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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