Legendary Barolo in a Great Spot Now

Today’s Story: Bruno Giacosa

I previously wrote about Bruno Giacosa back in April when I reviewed the delightful and refreshing 2017 Roero Arneis. Though I have a bottle or two of Giacosa Barolo hiding, I have not tried it until today when a good friend of mine shared a bottle of the 1996 vintage.

Bruno Giacosa was one of the most respected and legendary winemakers not only in Piedmont, Italy where he crafted some of the most highly regarded and traditionally made Barolo and Barbaresco, but throughout Italy and the world. At age 13, Bruno helped his father and grandfather in the cellar of their Langhe winery and joined the family business full-time two years later. Though Bruno never studied to become an enologist, his appreciation of traditionally made Barolo and Barbaresco spawned from this time with his family and instilled in him some of the most important practices he followed for his entire career until his death at the age of 88 in early 2018.

Bruno was quite adept at selecting parcels and fruit for his wines, and always emphasized intentionally small grape yields, limiting treatments in the vineyards, traditional vinification methods, and allowing the wines to honestly display the terroir and typicity through minimal intervention. Historically, Bruno crafted his wines with fruit sourced/purchased from some of the greatest crus of Barolo and Barbaresco and it wasn’t until the early 1980s he purchased his own vineyards as estate-bottling rose in prominence. In 1982, Bruno purchased the Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba vineyard which became the source of arguably his greatest Barolos ever made, followed in near significance by his purchase of the Asili and Rabajá plots in Barbaresco in 1996. Today, the Bruno Giacosa estate is in the capable hands of his daughter Bruna alongside his longtime enologist Dante Scaglione and they continue Bruno’s winemaking philosophies while respecting traditional techniques.

Today’s Wine: 1996 Barolo Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba

100% Nebbiolo; 14% ABV

The 1996 Barolo Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba is translucent medium to deep garnet in color. We decanted this for probably 3-4 hours and I think this is in a great drinking window. The nose showcases classic aromas of black cherry, cranberry, rose petal, musty cellar, forest floor, Alba truffle, anise, tar, thyme, and slate. I actually prefer the palate on this wine, however, which displays notes of baked strawberry, black raspberry, rose, black licorice, truffle, sous bois, damp green herbs, and chocolate. This is medium-bodied with lively high acidity, medium dusty tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $530 (shared by a good friend). As you might guess, this is a pretty impossible price level for me to discuss the value proposition. While “not a good value,” this is a special and ethereal wine that hopefully you get to taste.

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