6th generation Mario Fontana, along with his mother Elda, wife Luisa and their two boys Edoardo & Vasco, created Azienda Agricola Cascina Fontana, this tiny 4ha jewel of a Barolo estate in 1995.
Based in the hamlet of Perno they own parcels in three Castiglione Falletto vineyards: Valletti, Villero and Pozzo; in Sinio just beyond Serralunga & also in La Morra's Gallinotto from vintage 2008.
Mario tends the vines as sensitively as possible, makes the wine and, when necessary, also delivers it in his blue van.
He prefers the traditional approach to making Barolo wine: blending all his Nebbiolo vineyards to make one wine; the sum of the parts; a thoroughly consistent wine from one year to the next; a 15-20 day stainless-steel cuvaison; 2 years in large 20 hl slavonian barrels (a 30 year old chestnut barrel!), followed by 1 year in stainless steel and 1 year in bottle pre-release.
His languid Langhe Nebbiolo wine is made in the vineyards: using fruit from Castiglione's Pozzo & Sinio's vineyards, macerated for a shorter period than that destined for Barolo, the wine spends a brief invecchiamento (elevage) in both botte grande & french tonneaux. The perfection introduction to Nebbiolo, it can be drunk young or after ten years!
The full but svelte Barbera d'Alba is made from a combination of 60% fresh Sinio & 40% classy Castiglione Falletto fruit, aged for circa 3 months in used barriques; production on average only 500 cases/anno.
His philosophy harks back to the lessons learnt from his grandfather - "I was brought up with the smell of fermentations in my nostrils" - to the extent that he continues to place vats outside during winter to stabilise naturally, and will not move wine nor prune with the new moon. In addition Mario goes the extra mile in quality control, performing one hundred checks on the wine prior to bottling. Traditional and contemporary wine making at its best, and best enjoyed with food.