One of the legendary winemakers of the world, Bruno Giacosa fashioned the most prestigious single-vineyard Barolo and Barbaresco wines during a career that covered nearly eight decades. He joined the family business at the age of 15, representing the third generation of his Langhe winemaking family.
Giacosa's abiding pursuit of perfection, his supreme palate and his intimate knowledge of vineyards in the Langhe quickly drew recognition and helped establish Piedmont as a leading wine region. In 1980, Giacosa began to acquire prime parcels in Serralunga d'Alba, La Morra and Barbaresco to produce wines that are rightly regarded as the finest expressions of Nebbiolo. His legacy rests with daughter Bruna, who continues to uphold her father's winemaking philosophy to respect traditional techniques while using the best of modern technology.
A Spotlight on Bruno Giacosa
Perhaps no Nebbiolista looms larger in the sister appellations of Barolo and Barbaresco than Bruno Giacosa. This legendary winemaker had an insane, deeply intuitive and intellectual ability to recognize the best growing sites for the Nebbiolo grape. His intimate familiarity with the rolling landscape and sun-kissed hilltops of the Langhe ushered in a new chapter for Italy’s most prestigious wine denominations.
Wine lovers now identify the best Nebbiolo-based wines according to vineyard cru, or MGA (Menzione Geografica Aggiuntiva). Our ability to appreciate the finest nuances and differences within a complicated patchwork of grapevines and trellises is a direct consequence of the Giacosa school.
Bruno Giacosa passed away on January 21, 2018, after a long bout with illness following a stroke in 2006. He was 88. His daughter Bruna Giacosa runs the winery today.
I interviewed Robert M. Parker Jr. a few days after Giacosa’s death, to write his obituary: "His contributions to Italian wine and his beloved Piedmont are beyond measure," said Parker. "I am honored to have met him, shared his wines, and remain in naked awe of what he achieved. It wouldn't surprise me if God were learning the glories of Nebbiolo from the Master."
Bruno Giacosa is remembered as a gifted négociant who purchased fruit for most of his career. Many of those most celebrated agreements lasted decades and were famously sealed with just a handshake. The first vintage of his Barbaresco Santo Stefano was 1964. In 1982, he purchased 25 hectares in Falletto, Serralunga d’Alba, thus cementing his reputation for estate Barolo.
With the exception of last year (because of the COVID-19 lockdowns), I have tasted with Bruna Giacosa every year since I started working with Robert Parker Wine Advocate.
During my visit this past summer, I was able to review the Bruno Giacosa 2020 Roero Arneis, both the 2016 and 2017 Barbaresco Rabajà, the 2016 Barbaresco Riserva Asili (red label), the 2016 Barolo Falletto and the stunning 2016 Barolo Falletto Vigna Le Rocche. You will find my notes for those wines in this report.
MONICA LARNER, 30th Sep 2021, The Wine Advocate, End of September 2021.