|Bruna (L) and Bruno (R) Giacosa, the oracle of Neive, in 2004|
Finding these wines, today, is a different story than it was many years ago. My first encounter with the wines of Bruno Giacosa arrived through his then importer Vinifera. Dominic Nocerino brought them in, and there were fans scattered across the country. But the cult of the winemaker, especially those from the Langhe, had not yet been exalted, as it is today. Not that souls like Bruno Giacosa shouldn't be revered for his stalwart fixation on tradition. It was what he knew. It is who he is. And it is not always the easy path. But when one tastes through a series of his wines, be they vertical or hodge-podge horizontals, the story comes out in shades of red.
It’s important to note that Bruno Giacosa is not from Barolo. Neive is in the heart of Barbaresco country. Why is this significant? We might look at the Langhe from a distant hill, and it could appear to simply be a località, a dot on the earth. And in terms of the scale of the universe, it is. But in the 1950’s or 1960’s if you lived in Neive and went to Serralunga, you might as well have been from Jupiter. The language was different; the customs were not the same. Italy had recently been “united” as a country, and then two world wars hit the region. The place was an economic graveyard. There was no infrastructure. Hell, there weren’t even that many paved roads. It was rural, agrarian and a bit of a closed society. The youth, those who had survived the war, were heading to Torino for factory jobs with Fiat. It wouldn’t be until the 21st century when people would return to the villages and start repopulating them again. Winemaking wasn’t sexy and glamorous. It was hard work.
|Bruno Giacosa's neighbor across the street in Neive was Romano Levi|
The good news is that someone like Bruno Giacosa kept on course, through most of his winemaking life, to create wines that now young (and old) wine lovers clamor for. And rightfully so. The wines, though not brash and glitzy, are deep and soulful. I think Bruno Giacosa and his team have set, for the most part, their own personalities aside and bowed to the greater voice, that of the Langhe. Be it Barbaresco or nearby Barolo, the wines have a thread of territoriality that ring out as true and heraldic.
For our repast, our hosts, Jason and Sarah Heller assembled a menu and collection of wine (with a lot of help from Dan Petroski) to accompany pasta and truffles and other traditional Piemontese foods. It was all too lovely, to have an array of historic wines and food to go with it. Along with that, a table of engaged wine professionals, to talk about the wine. It was why I got into this business on the first place.
|♫ It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ♫|
Sitting down we started with a 1989 alongside a 1998 Barbera D’Alba.
Then we went to:
Barolo Falletto Cru
• 1995 Barolo Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba
• 1996 Barolo Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba
• 1997 Barolo Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba
• 1998 Barolo Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba
Barolo Falletto Cru (w/one Barbaresco red, or “brick,” label)
• 1999 Barolo Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba
• 2000 Barolo Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba
• 2001 Barolo Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba
• 2001 Barbaresco Rabaja di Barbaresco Riserva (red label)
Barbaresco Riserva (red, or “brick,” label)
• 1996 Barbaresco Asili di Barbaresco Riserva
• 2000 Barbaresco Asili di Barbaresco Riserva
• 2007 Barbaresco Asili di Barbaresco Riserva
• 2011 Barbaresco Asili di Barbaresco Riserva
Barolo Riserva (red, or “brick,” label)
• 2000 Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba
• 2001 Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba
• 2007 Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba
• 2008 Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba
20 wines in all.
|Christopher Hoel, French Laundry sommelier |
turned Wine Advisor to the stars in LA
I had my favorites in the wine lineup. I kept going back to the 1997 Barolo Falletto. I thought it was a very sexy wine, which had a backbone indicating many more years of pleasure to come from this wine. I found the 2001 Barolo Falletto to be tight and savory. I imagined the goings on in the vineyard, which at the time, the whole world was reeling from 9/11.
|Notes from Guy Stout, MS, in 2004 when we tasted the 2000's at Giacosa|
|L to R Barrett Anderson, T.J. Shushereba, Mark Porembski, Cameron Hobel,|
Dan Petroski(hidden), Steve Matthiasson, Tegan Passalacqua-pouring
when I drove my little Falcon wagon up and down Highway 29. And here we are 40 years later, with winemakers and members of the trade, and huge influencers in the world of wine in America at this table. And they are digging in to Nebbiolo, unmasking the fog, from one who not only is great now, but who will be seen in history as one who took the Langhe by his hand and led it into the daylight. Thank you, Bruno Giacosa.
Thanks to Jason and Sarah Heller for opening up their home and their hearth. To Dan Petroski for lining this up. To Brennan Anderson, who works with Giacosa’s current importer, Folio, and providing notes and commentary. To Bob Bressler, who like Obi Wan, probably did more to get some of those wines in the room than he would ever let on. And forgive me if I forgot anyone else who provided wine and food for one of the most interesting tastings this year in a most peaceful and collegial environment - this is why I am a slave to the wine gods. Thank you all.
• Bob Bressler - winemaker
• Christopher Hoel – advanced sommelier, wine trade
• Brennan Anderson - wine trade,
• Barrett Anderson- winemaker
• T.J. Shushereba – wine trade
• Mark Porembski - winemaker
• Cameron Hobel – wine trade
• Dan Petroski - winemaker
• Steve Matthiasson - winemaker
• Tegan Passalacqua - winemaker
• Alfonso Cevola - wine trade, writer
• Jason Heller – master sommelier , wine trade
• Sarah Heller – chef, host
• Dandridge Marsh - wine trade
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