Bruno Giacosa is one of the greatest winemakers of the world. When he joined the family business at age 15, he became the 3rd generation of Giacosas to do so. At the time, working alongside his father and grandfather, they crafted wines from fruit purchased from the regions most prestigious vineyards.
Bruno was a pioneer. Across a wine-making career that spanned nearly eight decades, Bruno was the first to bottle a wine with a vineyard designation, or Cru. In 1964, he released a Barbaresco from the Santo Stefano vineyard with the Cru designated on the label. It was the first of its kind in Piedmont.
Despite early successes as both a wine-maker and collaborator, in 1982 Giacosa purchased his first vineyard; the Falleto vineyard in Barolo. Subsequent acquisitions included holdings in the famed Asili and Rabaja vineyards in Barbaresco. Giacosa was a perfectionist. That reputation has been continuously reaffirmed as “stylistically consistent and painstakingly crafted”.
This perfectionism extends to the production of Riserva wines. These wines are the epitome of Giacosa’s art. They are rare and they virtually guarantee an ethereal experience.
Today, we’re focusing on a wine that was given to me as gift for my 30th birthday. I’ve had the wine in my possession since its release for the last 23 years. Over the Christmas holiday, I decided to open it.
The 1990 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto Riserva is absolutely spectacular. Although it’s approaching its 30th birthday, the wine is a vivid deep ruby color at its core. When you tilt the glass you can observe a beautiful, gradual fade from garnet to ruby, ruby to brick, brick to siena and siena to sunburst orange. It’s a masters class in color observation. We did not decant the wine.
Immediately upon opening, this wonderful Barolo was singing with an orchestral harmony of aromas. Deep wood and chestnut notes present themselves first followed by roses, tea leaves, crushed cherry, mushroom, fennel, cured meat and worn leather. It was miraculous. But I had yet to taste it.
On the palate, the first thing that strikes you is the purity and intensity of the fruit flavors. There is a massive core of ripe wild cherry fruit that coats your palate from front to back. No let up. No lack of focus. The pure freshness of the fruit belies its age. This is as vibrant, juicy and fresh as wines half its age.
Complexity abounds as the wine unfolds on your palate. Dried herbs, cured meat, fennel, dried mushroom, roasted nuts and coffee dance on the outskirts but it’s all about the wide swath of fruit that impresses the most. Long, rich and velvety as can be, the tannins are ultra soft but still perceptible and the acidity is perfectly balanced. This was a reference point for me. An absolute benchmark for Barolo that will be an experience I won’t forget. I wish I had a case. Find this wine? Yes… but it will cost you very dearly now. 100 points.
Today, Bruno’s daughter Bruna runs the winery after taking over in 2006. Earlier that year, Bruno suffered a stroke that prevented him from performing the daily tasks of the winery. The family owns about 20 hectares of vineyards and under Bruna’s vision is moving towards an estate-only strategy for its top wines. The famed Barbaresco Santo Stefano, which started the Cru designation way back in 1964, is no longer bottled by the winery as of 2012.
Perfection… add another one to the club.
Buon Anno Nuovo!