Italian Wine Was An Afterthought — Until Giacosa
I experienced my first Nebbiolo moment as a young (very green) Sommelier in 2006. I had spent nearly two years with the French wines that dominated the The French Laundry wine list. Italian wine was an afterthought before Bruno Giacosa, and his 1990 Barbaresco Riserva Santo Stefano, forever changed my perspective. Now, after 21 years in hospitality, 13 years in wine, and 5 years in wine education, when I taste a red wine from anywhere in the world, 90 percent of the time, I am wishing it were Nebbiolo. That is what a great wine from a legendary producer is capable of. This is why I’m proud to present you the 2009 Bruno Giacosa Falletto Barolo. I’m in love with the soft, ripe nature of this 2009 Barolo’s tannins. A deep core of fruit evokes a thought of gravity, anchoring aromatics, allowing for a slow, teasing manifestation of its full character. At $149.99 per bottle, secure your share now.
In the Langhe region of Piedmont, Barolo and Barbaresco are the two famous regions, Nebbiolo is the grape, and Bruno Giacosa a pioneering leader, in a vanguard of producers since the 1960s. Among others, names like Gaja, Conterno, Mascarello, Cappellano and Rinaldi have all made legendary wines during this time, while only Giacosa has made several from both Barolo and Barbaresco.
Born in 1929 in the Barbaresco village of Neive, Bruno started making wine with his father and grandfather as a young teenager, during World War Two. His father worked as a grape broker, purchasing fruit from small farmers on behalf of the few large wine companies that had the means to bottle their own Barolo and Barbaresco. During this time Bruno was learning where the best vineyards were and how to identify the highest quality fruit thanks to his family’s insights — in fact, Bruno is responsible for shining an early light on some of the most famous vineyards and most sought-after fruit today.
There are many wine professionals who would consider the wines to be traditional in style. After visiting the estate in 2015, I have considered his philosophy to be more forward thinking, with a great deal of respect for tradition.
Giacosa was one of the first in Piedmont to embrace stainless steel tanks, in order to control fermentation temperature and maintain aromatics. He implemented the use of laboratory analysis to make various decisions. He was designating vineyard specific (Cru) wines in the 1960s, 30 years before it became common to do so. He still uses traditional large oak casks (Botti) to age his wine, but he chooses to use French oak over the more traditional Slovenian. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Giacosa is an advocate of extended bottle-aging before release, instead of the barrel-aging, capturing the freshness of the fruit before it dries out in wood. A philosophy like this was far from the norm in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s in Piedmont. Through dozens of decisions like these, Giacosa seems to capture a purity of fruit, with a harmony of tannin.
As controversial as this may be, I am willing to say that some of these choices may have roots in Burgundian winemaking philosophy. I can hear the outcry from both sides already!
Bruno’s rise as a winemaker coincides with a period of great transition in Barolo and Barbaresco. While Bruno Giacosa remained focused on making the greatest wines of the world, the region saw investors’ money flood in, along with talks of a vineyard classification system similar to the Burgundians. Vineyards that Bruno built his reputation on, and certainly vineyards he made internationally famous, were experiencing higher and higher demand. In 1982, after he'd already been making wine for 30 years, Bruno purchased his first vineyard. But it was a crown jewel of a vineyard, one whose fruit had also been treasured by Bruno’s father and grandfather, the legendary Falletto Cru in Serralunga d’Alba, in Barolo.
The Falletto vineyard has been the epicentre for some of Giacosa’s most iconic wines ever. To offer a Giacosa wine from this incredible vineyard is why I love what I do, and keeps me thirsty for my next find! I’m not alone in my adoration of this 2009 Bruno Giacosa Falletto Barolo. — Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate gushed “each layer is a separately audible voice in a united chorus of flavors and aromas,” and awarded it 94 points.
Sur Lucero MS
Vice President of Wine, Wine Access