Bruno Giacosa is known for his stone-faced mien, but as I tasted through his line-up of 2000s I had a hard time keeping a stupid grin off my face. Those who consider 2000 to be an outstanding vintage for Langhe nebbiolo must surely have tasted these wines. Giacosa has scored big-time in this vintage. Increasingly, it seems to me that the great traditional producers of Barolo and Barbaresco of the '70s and early '80s are no longer quite so obviously in a league of their own. But Giacosa has not missed a step. At the same time, in recent superripe vintages like 2000 and 2001, Giacosa's Barbarescos and Barolos strike my palate as a bit less austere than previously, with a decadent sweetness that's hard to find elsewhere in the zone. This is hardly a complaint!(Winebow, Inc. , Hohokus, NJ)
($40) Good pale color. Apple, ginger and nut meats on the nose. Ripe, fat, leesy and soft; distinctly heavier than the 1999, with a bit less verve. Offers plenty of flavor, though.
($23) Ripe aromas of peachy fruit salad, sage and ginger. Fat and rich but not at all over the top. In fact, this is quite subtle and classically dry, offering lovely subtle fruit. The 2003 vintage was at its best for arneis and dolcetto, says Giacosa.
($22; 14% alcohol) Good full ruby. Fresh aromas of blackberry, licorice and violet. Large-scaled, supple and rich, with a seamless plum flavor. Strong dolcetto, finishing with substantial fine tannins and lingering sweetness.
($150) Good medium red. Sweet aromas of redcurrant, underbrush, mocha, tobacco and earth. Lush and rich in the mouth; offers outstanding sweetness without being at all stewy. Finishes with thoroughly smooth, sweet tannins and excellent length.
($180; still aging in cask, but Giacosa says he will bottle this as riserva Good full red. Wonderfully scented nose of red berry syrup, rose petal and minerals. Dense, lush and seamless, but with racy, fresh fruit and compelling inner-mouth perfume. Solidly structured, layered and very deep, with a palate-staining, perfumed aftertaste. A great Barolo in the making. Likely to be long-lived, even if it's not especially austere in its early years in bottle. (Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to taste Giacosa's other wines from this vintage.)
($160) Good full red. Captivating aromas of red berries, flowers, minerals, menthol and white truffle; seems quite cool for the year. The wine's penetrating, sappy, sharply delineated red fruit flavors offer uncanny sweetness but retain great freshness and verve. Finishes extremely long, with powerful structure and grip. Very classy Barbaresco, and still an infant.
($180) Good deep red. Knockout nose reminded me of great grand cru Burgundy : superripe red fruits, tobacco, minerals and smoke. As chewy as a solid yet utterly smooth, with extraordinary inner-mouth floral character and a sappy sweetness. Expands spectacularly toward the back, finishing with very suave, late-arriving tannins and compelling length. At once more perfumed, concentrated and structured than the Santo Stefano. I underestimated this great wine when I tasted it two years ago.
($100) Good full red. Sweet, decadent aromas of redcurrant, marzipan, underbrush and tobacco. Sweet, fat and full, with excellent density but moderate nuance today. A bit tough on the back end following the 2000 Asili, with the tannins making themselves felt earlier.
($160) Good deep red. Complex, vibrant aromas of raspberry, flowers, tobacco and tar. Offers great penetrating sweetness along with wonderful lift in the mouth, with red berry flavors complicated by tobacco, mocha and underbrush. Pure, sharply focused and still youthfully unevolved. Sweeter than the 2000 Barbaresco Santo Stefano, but the Asili is even longer. Large-scaled and built to age; really transcends the vintage.
($180) Medium red with a hint of amber. Ethereal aromas of redcurrant, dried rose, violet, tobacco, marzipan and white truffle. A wine of great penetration and thrust, with fruit of steel and powerful structure. Wonderfully floral in the mouth and on the gripping aftertaste. This seems more in the style of the best 2001s. Delivers an uncanny combination of sweetness and sheer energy. Here the late-arriving, slow-building tannins are even finer than those of the Falletto normale From very old vines with perfect exposure to the sun. Giacosa carried out a serious green harvest in 2000, ultimately bringing in about 40 hectoliters per hectare from these vines.
($170) Deeply pitched, superripe aromas of redcurrant, tar, marzipan, tobacco and underbrush. Sweet, lush and explosively perfumed in the mouth. Less dense and structured than the 2000 but more elegantly styled. A real essen ce of Barolo aromatics. Finishes very long, with broad, serious tannins that call for another four to six years of cellaring.
($150) Good medium red. Exotic aromas of dried fruits, spice cake and nuts. Fat, sweet and full but with lovely floral perfume and vinosity; this, too, offers quintessential Barolo aromatic complexity and solid underlying acid/tannin backbone. A bit more expressive and showy today than the Rocche, but without quite that wine's depth. The full tannins reach the front teeth.