AG Fantino

…one of Piemonte's most overlooked growers…Alessandro Fantino continues to impress for the superb, pedigreed wines he turns out of his tiny, garage-like winery in the old town center of Monforte.” Antonio Galloni

Tucked away from the centre of Monforte d’Alba, up a narrow, cobbled lane are the wrought iron gates of A&G Fantino. This wonderful, almost microscopic producer of exquisitely fine, traditional Barolo flies well below the radar. More than once when I’ve shown Alessandro and Gian Natale’s wines to a member of the Barolo cognoscenti in London I’ve heard: “these are amazing, how come I’ve never heard of them?”  The answer is simple: production is tiny and historically, anything sold on the export market went to the US. With the retirement of that American importer an opportunity arose and needless to say we pounced!

The Fantino brothers farm 8 hectares in a single plot called Dardi in the Bussia cru. Their Nebbiolo vines are seriously old for this region (planted in 1946 and 1947). Allesandro welcomed us: tall, lean, professorial; he made 20 vintages at local (ultra-traditionalist) legends Bartolo Mascarello before selling his shares to Maria-Teresa Mascarello and joining his brother full time. We conversed in a mixture of French, Italian and Piedmontese where he explained the philosophy of the estate. Much of what he learned with Mascarello has been held on to: long, uncomplicated fermentations are followed by extended aging in large, neutral casks in which the hugely complex old-vine wine is allowed to mature and soften to a feather-light perfection. Alessandro is on a quest for fragrance and elegance, never power or brute force. His wines have an uncanny knack for aging but - if their magnificent 2010 is anything to go by - are balanced and drinkable early doors. Two expressions of their top Nebbiolo are bottled: a Barolo ‘Cascina Dardi’ which is fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel before aging and, a wilder expression called ‘Laboro Disobedient’ which is fermented the old fashioned way in ancient open-top wooden vats. Both are quintessential, old-school Barolos.