Guido Fantino's deeply colored, glossy, modern-style wines rarely disappoint, and he has made another set of explosive red wines in vintage 2001. Says Fantino: "The 1999s have great charisma, and are very typical of our zone. But the 2001s are even better. They have more character, more flesh; they're more complete, with more tannins but riper and sweeter tannins. "(Empson U.S.A , Alexandria, VA)
($22) Bright ruby-red. Cool aromas of kirsch and licorice. Fat, dense and a bit tanky; still quite youthfully closed, even a bit hard. Seems a bit heavy for this bottling, in the style of the vintage.
($28) Full red-ruby. Wild black fruits and espresso on the slightly roasted nose. Rich, chewy and deep, with enough acidity to give definition and verve to the dark berry, espresso and oak flavors. Finishes with very good length.
($59; 45% each nebbiolo and barbera, with 10% cabernet sauvignon) Good ruby-red. Sexy oak, cassis, minerals, bitter chocolate, graphite and espresso on the nose. Sweet, lush and smooth, with bright black fruit flavors. Best on the lush, long finish, which features very smooth, broad tannins. A superb vintage for this consistently excellent bottling.
(Fantino had just 50% of a normal crop here but noted that there was no damage from the early September hailstorm) Good medium red. Sweet red berries and lots of nutty, cedary oak on the nose, with a liqueur-like quality. Sweet, slightly high-toned red cherry fruit is given a slight hardness by an edge of acidity. No shortage of flavor intensity here, but a bit dry on the back end.
Very good red-ruby. More minerally and less oaky on the nose than the Vigna del Gris, with vibrant blackberry and blueberry fruit aromas complicated by graphite, fennel and menthol. Fatter and sweeter than the Vigna del Gris but without the convincing structure of a top year. Still, this is nicely mouthfilling, ripe and persistent; the dusty tannins largely avoid dryness.
(the last vintage for this bottling, as the owner took back the vines after Fantino's lease expired) Medium red with a hint of amber. Aromas of nuts, marzipan, menthol and animal fur; not particularly fruit-driven. Then fat, sweet and lush, with a hint of red cherry liqueur. Shows the gentlest structure of Fantino's three 2001 Barolos, finishing rich and sweet, with very good length and chewy, ripe tannins.
Deep, healthy red. Cherry, raspberry, coffee, minerals, mint and sexy oak tones on the inviting nose. Very rich but austere, with cool red fruit and menthol flavors. Then spreads out impressively on the back half, finishing with substantial, granular tannins and superb persistence. More structured and more backward than the 2000.
Good deep medium red. Brooding aromas of red berries, red cherry, minerals and sweet oak. Thick and lush but juicy, with lovely minerality contributing to the impression of grip. Wonderfully pure, sweet red fruit flavors. This, too, builds impressively toward the back and lingers impressively on the aftertaste. The finish features lush, suave tannins that coat the front teeth and incisors. A great 2001 Barolo.
($81) Good deep red. Aroma of cherry liqueur; very ripe and fruity but less complex than the 2001. Sweet, lush and easygoing; a lovely mouthful of red fruits and mint. Not particularly complex but offers plenty of early appeal. Smooth tannins show a faint dry edge.
($99) Good medium red. Aromas of red cherry, dried flowers and minerals; shows more lift than the Parussi. Then a bit heavier in the mouth than the nose suggests, with the fruit sweetened by oak. Best today on the finish, which features substantial wood tannins and very good length and lift.
($99) Good medium red. Highly aromatic nose combines red berries, minerals and cedary oak. Sweet and lush, but with strong underlying spine. A step up in definition from the Vigna del Gris, and yet this is also seamless and velvety. Finishes with suave, building tannins and excellent length. Over the past decade or more, Conterno-Fantino's Sori Ginestra has been consistently outstanding.