Wine of the Weeks – Amazing, old vine Barbera from a classic vintage! As I’ve gotten older and my taste in wine has “matured,” Barbera has become a real go-to wine for me. Being a lowly wine shop owner, I can rarely afford Barolo and Barbaresco, but I can always afford good Barbera, and one of the secrets to getting the best wine for your dollar is to buy Barbera from a top notch Barolo or Barbaresco producer. This is one of those! From a marvelous vintage in Italy’s Piemonte region, this is from a 60 year old vineyard in the Bussia cru, just north of Montforte, one of Barolo’s most famous zones.
I forgot to mention that there are just 6 precious cases of this wine available — I bought all that my distributor had to offer Western North Carolina, and I have no doubt that this one is going to go fast. Alright, I’m starting to sound like a used car salesman. Let me tell you why I bought all of this one. The brothers Alessandro and Gian Natale Fantino run this family estate in Monforte d’Alba. Prior to dedicating himself to running his family’s estate with his brother, Alessandro managed the vineyards and served as the enologist at the legendary Cantina Bartolo Mascarello for 20 years, from 1978 to 1997.
He has definitely put his experience working for one of the legends of Barolo to good use. Of course, it’s not hard to make good wine when you have a great vintage and a great vineyard. Wine Spectator rated the 2011 Piemonte vintage at 94 points and said it was a “fine year for Barbera.” Yep, they got that right! The Fantinos choose to ferment this wine in stainless steel, and I completely support that decision. When you’re working with 60 year old, deeply rooted, low yielding vines, why do anything to take away from the natural purity and abundance of character inherent in those grapes?
As importer Kermit Lynch says, the “Fantino brothers produce an amazing Barbera d’Alba from these ancient vines in Dardi. The Barbera is loaded with lush fruit and smooth, silky texture, and a ravishing perfume.” Yep, Kermit pretty much sums that up nicely. I had similar notes that included terms like silky, polished, balanced, cherry, plum, leather, spice, complexity and so on. All in all, this is just a ridiculously good wine from a small family estate (they make 3,800 cases total and they make 8 wines). Buy some or I’ll take it all home……….that’s a promise!