© Tom Hyland/Wine-Searcher |
The Bruno Giacosa winery, located in the town of Neive in the Barbaresco production zone, dates back to 1900, but it is the labor and vision of Bruno Giacosa, now 88, that has been the foundation of universal acclaim for the firm. Representing the third generation, he cemented his reputation in the late 1980s when he sought out a few of the finest vineyards in both the Barolo and Barbaresco zones to purchase for his company’s production.
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Giacosa’s wines are divided into two primary categories: the Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa wines (labeled simply as Bruno Giacosa) are from purchased fruit, while the Azienda Agricola Falletto di Bruno Giacosa offerings are from estate vineyards. Wines such as Roero Arneis, Spumante Extra Brut and Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore represent the former category, while the Barolo Falletto Vigna Le Rocche and Barbaresco Rabajá are among the latter.
Production of the estate wines is highly limited; for the 2013 Falletto Barolo, a little more than 1100 cases were made, while that number was less than 300 cases for the 2013 Barbaresco Rabajá. These are the white label wines; the red label wines are riserva offerings.
An unwavering philosophy
Except for a brief period when he left the winery to become a consultant for local vintners, Dante Scaglione has been the enologist at Giacosa for the past 25 years. A strict traditionalist, Scaglione notes that he agrees in full with Bruno’s thinking on how the wines should be made. «The philosophy of Bruno Giacosa is the expression of a practice that favors the simplicity of transforming the grapes into a bottle of excellent wine, following a strict practice of a conservative and non-interventionist oenology,» remarks Scaglione. This means maturation of Barolo, Barbaresco and most other reds in large oak casks, known as botti; barriques are not part of the equation for Giacosa.
Continuing, Scaglione comments, «The Barolos and Barbarescos of Bruno Giacosa represent all the class and elegance, strength and delicacy that Nebbiolo has to express in a privileged territory such as ours.»
Bruno’s daughter Bruna started to work for her father when she was a little girl, and today, she is the most heartfelt spokesperson for the winery. How would she best describe her father’s approach to his wines and his business? «Passion and a great love for wine and the vines are the two things that best represent my father in his work,» she notes.
Clearly, Bruna is quite satisfied with her father’s achievements. «I am full of pride for the high quality of wine we have always produced, and will continue to produce in the future,» she comments. As for the Bruno Giacosa philosophy, she notes that, «it has never changed, as we have always had great respect for the territory. Our wines are clean, elegant, and I would dare say, unique.»
While Bruno Giacosa has overseen many first-rate growing seasons in his time, he has had the courage to not bottle wines from certain vintages that others have acclaimed. One such example was 2010, a year most producers believe was outstanding. Why were there no 2010 Barolos or Barbarescos from Giacosa? «We believed that the 2010 vintage did not meet the usual level of high quality that all our wines have,» says Scaglione.
What are Scaglione’s favorite years? There are many – dating back to 1961, 1967 and 1971, all the way up to 2007, 2011, 2014 (yes, 2014!) and 2016. For Bruna, her preferred recent vintages are 2011, 2014 and 2016, while 1961, 1964 and 1967 are her choices for older years. She adds, «I would happily drink a glass of the following vintages: 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2007.»
© Bruno Giacosa | Acclaim
For more than 20 years, journalists and critics from around the world have been trying to come up with new adjectives to describe the glories of these great reds; indeed, Bruno Giacosa’s wines are among the few that lovers of traditional as well as modern Italian wines agree are superb.
On premise wine buyers and sommeliers agree. For Tarik Bouslama, sommelier at the Four Seasons Resort in Orlando, Florida, «the Bruno Giacosa wines really do well in the American market; this is due to their pedigree. The wines are outstanding and are cellar worthy.» For Curt Dyer, wine director at Bob’s Steak and Chop House based in Dallas, Texas, Giacosa’s wines are «beautiful steakhouse wines, as they hold up to the beef. They’re definitely some of our top sellers, and are among the top wines of the world.»
Rachael Lowe, wine director at Spiaggia in Chicago, notes the «pristine quality» of the wines and comments that they are «some of the most complex representations of Nebbiolo one can experience.» Finally, for Kevin Lanctot, wine director at Michael’s on Naples in Long Beach, California, the wines represent more than technical satisfaction. «These are wines that are memorable and important. I don’t talk about the details of the wines so much, as I do the memories it has created for the people I was with.»
Barolo versus Barbaresco
For the age-old question of the difference between Barolo and Barbaresco, we asked Bruna for her thoughts. «Barolo and Barbaresco are two amazing wines. Barolo is more masculine, while Barbaresco is more feminine, but, in the best vintages, both wines are collectable and to be conserved. I like all of our wines that we produce, but personally, a glass of Barolo always gives me immense pleasure.»
Notes on current releases
2015 Roero Arneis Giacosa has excelled at this wine for more than several decades. Medium-full with aromas of melon, pear and magnolia. Delicious, enjoy over the next 2-3 years.
2015 Nebbiolo d’Alba Vigna Valmaggiore From the renowned vineyard in the Roero district, this has abundant fruit, rich tannins, distinct earthiness and marvelous complexity. Best in 5-7 years.
2013 Barolo Falletto Vigna La Rocche Excellent depth of fruit; rich, stylish tannins; very good acidity, with a touch of dried herbs in the finish. Excellent persistence; wonderful finesse for such a powerful wine. Peak in 15-20 years.
2013 Barbaresco Rabajá Expressive aromas of black tea, molasses, dried orange peel and tobacco. Excellent depth of fruit; very good acidity; lengthy finish with dusty, but silky tannins. Outstanding combination of richness and finesse. Elegantly styled, it could be enjoyed tonight, but it will be at its best in 12-15 years. One of the finest Italian wines of the past 20 years.