About this Blog

The blog focuses on the essence of wine and food, not how many points or stars it receives. The opinions are mine and should be taken only as that, an opinion not gospel.

Like many collectors, initially I was very much influenced by wine ratings. I purchased wines based on points, even if I had never tasted the wine. And it was much worse than that. I would drink a wine with a high rating, not like it, yet since it was highly rated I’d rationalize that I did not yet appreciate the wine, or that my palate was not sophisticated enough to understand the wine. How’s that for lunacy? As a result my cellar grew in all directions while my palate narrowed. By the time I realized the style of wine that I enjoyed, my cellar abounded with wines whose styles I did not enjoy. All of these wines were very highly rated, just not my cup of tea, or glass of wine to be more accurate. Fortunately I was able to sell many of these wines to those who either enjoyed them or wanted highly rated wines. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against wines with high ratings, in fact I own many. It is just that I now purchase wines based on the producer, the style and my palate, not the rating. Nor do I shun reading reviews. I very much respect Antonio Galloni, Alan Meadows, Eric Asimov and John Gilman and read their reviews routinely. I pay attention to what they write, not the points they award.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Magic of Bruno Giacosa

Our NY Vinous group met earlier this month at DeGrezia Ristorante in NYC for an epic tasting of Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco and Barolo.  We welcomed Vinous founder Antonio Galloni who joined us for the evening.  As is our custom we each bring a bottle (sometimes two) of wine to the dinner. A list of the wines and who is to bring them is agreed upon ahead of time to prevent duplication.

I have always been a fan of the amazing wines that come from the Giacosa estate.  However after having the chance to taste some of the older vintages I could only lament that it took me far too long to discover the wines when I started collecting some 35 years ago.  They are pure expressions of how good wine and the Nebbiolo grape can be when in the hands of a master.  The estate did suffer what us Giacosa lovers hope is only a hiccup when Bruno had a stroke in 2006.  A couple of subsequent vintages were not very good after oenologist, Dante Scaglione left the winery and the direction fell solely into the lap of Bruno’s daughter, Bruna.  Fortunately Bruno is back on his feet and Scaglione has returned, thus I am very optimistic of a return to greatness at the estate.  I suggest you check out Eric Guido’s excellent blog about the evening and the Giacosa estate at  The Cellar Table at Morrell Wine.

Before getting into the wines a few words about the food.  It was fantastic and enjoyed by all. Since we ordered ala carte I can not recall all the plates.  I do recall mine however quite fondly.

Sweetbreads with Mushrooms (Animelle ai Funghi) 

Spaghetti Carbonara

Fegato (Liver)ala Venezia 

The Wines

2008 Bruno Giacosa Spumante Rosé.   Made from purchased fruit this Pinot Noir sparkler had a nice yeasty nose and palate.  

2008 Bruno Giacosa Barolo La Rocche Riserva .  While the palate was soft, there was very little going on here.  One of the hiccup wines for sure, it was my least favorite of the evening.

2007 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili Riserva.   Gorgeous nose, beautiful palate and a lengthy and elegant finish sums up this beautifully made wine.

2004 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili Riserva.  A stunning example of why ’04 vintage in Piedmont was so extraordinary.  Round and delicious wine with a lengthy and elegant palate. Giacosa fans if you don't own any, loosen the purse strings and pick some up.

2001 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Rabaja Riserva.  This was simply fantastic, displaying impeccable balance and a long elegant finish.

2000 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Rocche Riserva.  This started out with a monstrous enticing bouquet on the nose.  I detected a bit of oxidation on the palate but the overall depth, balance and complexity and elegant finish made for one terrific wine.

1996  Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto di Serralunga d'Alba.  While this is still a young wine it is oh so round and delicious.  A bouquet of dark berries fills the nose in anticipation of the first sip which does not let you down.  Many years ahead for this Giacosa classic.

1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili Riserva.  As good as the white label was, the riserva is on another plateau.  Another contender for WOTN, the bouquet kick starts the senses and delivers in spades on the palate a gorgeous feminine elegance that is echoed in the monster finish.  Truly a wine with soul!

1989 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Villero.  My first Giacosa Villero and it was quite special.  The wine began with an earthy bouquet and a soft beautifully textured palate.  The wine finished with a long, feminine elegance.  A wine with soul!

1989  Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto Riserva.  This definitely took a back seat to the Villero.  The wine exhibited an old and earthy bouquet and aged palate marked by hints of chocolate.  

1986 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Rocche Castiglione.  Lush, fruity and vibrant palate made for a delicious glass of wine.

1985 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Rocche Castiglione.  A round and delicious wine that was firing on all cylinders.   Enticing bouquet with a superbly balanced palate and long elegant finish.

1985 Bruno Giacosa Falletto.  Corked

1980 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Rocche Castiglione.  The wine possessed a very old nose and an earthy palate.  For me the wine is on a downturn.  

1979 Bruno Giacosa Barolo.  Gorgeous bouquet, however a one-dimensional palate and short finish.

1978 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano.  Simply an awesome bottle of wine that showed beautifully in the presence of so many red label reserves.  An elegant and beautifully balanced wine with a long and elegant finish.  Round and delicious with lots of soul!  I wish I had some of this in my cellar. 

1967 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili Riserva.  Deep earthy bouquet and a nice balanced palate.  While it had an earthy finish, it was shorter than the previous two wines.

1964 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Riserva.  This was simply awesome and a contender for WOTN.  I sipped it slowly and reveled as each sip evolved with more fruit than the previous.  Truly a wine with soul! 

1961 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Riserva Speciale.  Sourced from the Gallina and Santo Stefano vineyards, this was excellent. One sip of this wine and you are given an insight into why 1961 was one of Piedmonts greatest vintages.  The fruit was amazingly vibrant and the finish was long and elegant.

Very hard to choose a wine of the night but I thought the '64, both the '96s, '04 and '61 were all in contention.

Photo courtesy of Eric Guido
It was truly a magical evening of wines with a very special group of guys.


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