Vinous Media 91
"Fantino's 2014 Barbera d'Alba emerges from 70 year-old vines in the heart of Dardi. Sweet red cherry, plum and smoke are some of the signatures. The 2014 was vinified and aged in steel, so it needs time in the glass to blow off some of its slight elements of reduction, but it is a pretty special wine. This is one of the more compelling, alluring 2014 Barberas I have tasted so far."
Alessandro & Gian Fantino
Two brothers, Alessandro and Gian Natale Fantino, run this family estate in Monforte d'Alba. Alessandro managed the vineyards and served as the enologist at Cantina Bartolo Mascarello for 20 years, from 1978 to 1997. Since 1998 he has dedicated himself to running his family estate alongside his brother full-time.
The brothers farm eight hectares in the heart of the historic Bussia cru north of Monforte, one of Barolo's most famous areas for producing wines of great longevity and finesse. The Fantino holdings are concentrated exclusively in the "Dardi" section of Bussia, a hillside with perfect southern and southeastern exposure in the geographic center of Bussia. This gives them their "Cascina Dardi" brand name on the label of their Barbera and Baroli (for those already familiar with these wines, they were formerly labeled as Vigna dei Dardi, before the brothers registered the Cascina Dardi trademark).
Barolos from Bussia tend to have deep color and rich fruit and while they don't lack the classic tannic structure of Nebbiolo from this part of the world, they are not nearly as hard as the Barolos from the southside of Monforte or from Serralunga. This fact does not preclude the Fantino Baroli from aging but makes them delightfully approachable relatively young. The Fantinos are also blessed with some of the oldest vines in the entire Barolo zone, thanks to the fastidious care given to them by Alessandro and Gian Natale. Planted in 1946 and 1947 and pruned in an old style that is very labor intensive, they produce grapes that would be the envy of any Barolista.
The Fantino brothers produce an amazing Barbera d'Alba from these ancient vines in Dardi, and a "Rosso dei Dardi" from younger vine Nebbiolo planted on a west facing slope. The Barbera is loaded with lush fruit and smooth, silky texture, and a ravishing perfume. The Rosso is playful, fruit-driven, fresh, and aromatic. They are also specialists with several traditional Piemontese wines that are mostly disappearing: Nebbiolo Passito and Barolo Chinato.