Secret cantinas hidden under the treacherously steep roads atop Monforte d'Alba don't really exist these days. Though still gaining more recognition across the globe, Barolo is a historic landscape whose heroes are clearly marked in the record books. Giacomo Conterno, Giuseppe Rinaldi, and Bartolo Mascarello are among the core of every traditional-leaning cellar. From 1978-1997 Alessandro Fantino served as enologist and vineyard manager for Bartolo Mascarello, affording him the opportunity to learn from a master of Nebbiolo. When Bartolo's daughter, Maria Theresa took a more active role in the estate in 1998 Alessandro joined with his brother full time at the family domaine across the valley in Monforte d'Alba.

Alessandro and Gian Natale Fantino's cellar is perhaps the smallest in all of Monforte. The estate had gone through philosophical shifts over the years as they were finding their true voice. After the 2007 vintage they began to turn away from French barrique for aging, with 2008 marking a shift where the more traditional use of large Slavonian oak endowed the wines with striking clarity, energy, and poise.

The top wine from the Fantinos comes from the famed Bussia vineyard of Monforte. Though generally regarded as one of the most powerful and tannic villages for Barolo due to its high sandstone content, Monforte's northern side and its Bussia Cru has an elegance that has always captivated. In the hands of the Fantinos the style is one where power meets finesse flawlessly. 

Their parcels within the great Bussia come from the center of the cru, a sweet spot named Cascina Dardi. From here they craft a Barolo and Barolo Riserva from vines planted as far back as 1946. It's truly thrilling and rare today to be able to offer a wine from each the 2008 and 2010 vintages. There will be no mincing of words, these are my two favorite vintages in recent memory.

2008 captured Nebbiolo at its most graceful, perfumed, and ethereal. The wines drank well upon release, but clearly had a regal structure that would allow them to unfold for decades to come. Aromatically this is as sexy as Nebbiolo can get.

2010 is simply a perfect vintage. A hot and dry July drove up ripeness and was met with cool nights throughout the summer. These conditions ensured a vintage with plenty of power and force was held in perfect check with bright acidity and verve.

"Fantino is one of the last remaining top-flight under the radar estates in Piedmont."

- Antonio Galloni of Vinous

2010 A & G Fantino Barolo Bussia - Cascina Dardi
$51 per bottle.

2008 A & G Fantino Barolo Bussia - Cascina Dardi Riserva
$59 per bottle.