Bruno Giacosa: no 2006 but what a 2005!

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Recently, it occurred to me that over the last year, I’ve written quite a bit about Bruno Giacosa, the great winemaker and eponymous winery that the whole world — even James Suckling! — considers one of the indisputable benchmarks of Langa wines (the French critique Michel Bettane alone does not share this view). Indeed, I’ve devoted a number of posts to his clamorous decision (made together with his colleagues) not to bottle his 2006 Barbaresco and Barolo, a vintage, he judged, not up to the the qualitative standards of his Langa Nebbiolo.

There was no way around it since it was impossible to ignore such a choice by such an important producer, however heavy his heart and however painful the decision.

Today, I think it’s important to focus on the present and Bruno Giacosa’s 2005 and 2004 Barbaresco and Barolo. These wines represent guaranteed “consolation” for wine lovers who bemoan the missing vintage and must wait for the 2007 Barbaresco to be released.

Thanks to my recent visit to the winery with the new enologist Giorgio Lavagna and Bruno’s daughter Bruna (below, with Bruno), who continues to work fervently to maintain the prestige of the winery and to represent it abroad, I had the good fortune to taste some of their top wines, the crème de la crème. This impressive, extraordinary tasting was testament to the fact that this winery continues to deliver one of the most noble expressions of Alba Nebbiolo possible.

The prices for these wines are high but their quality is impeccable, indisputable, and incontrovertible.

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Part 1: A Barbaresco Trifecta

I began with the 2005 Barbaresco Asili, one of the absolute classics from this appellation. Deep, brilliant ruby red, with great intensity and gradations. On the nose the wine is elegant, dense, seductive, with marked floral notes and breadth, with notes of prune and raspberry and a wonderful rose note as well. In the mouth, the wine is magnificent, ample and wide, meaty, with lively and impressive tannin, yet very delicate and velvety with powerful softness and character. A wine with indisputable class.

Next was the 2005 Barbaresco Santo Stefano. Compared to the Asili, the color of this wine was more intense and deep, with a nose that alternated between more wide, dense, and earthy notes and tones of underbrush, leather, minerality, and autumn. A very compact wine.

Ample, full in the mouth with tannins that still “bite,” betraying the youth of this wine and its energy, which has yet to be tamed. Persistent on the palate with the nervy character you find in truly great wine.

Anyone who loves great Nebbiolo would have called this a Trifecta: we closed the trilogy with my favorite wine of the three, 2005 Barbaresco Rabajà. Powerful, intense ruby red in color, brilliant, lively, teeming with gradations and happiness. A complex dense nose, alluring and dense, “macho” and wild in its evolution, unique with notes of raspberry and ripe prune, but also with unexpected notes of citrus, aromatic herbs, a light spiciness, and a mysterious hint of earth and soil that adds to the aromatic pleasure of this wine.

And then the mouth, my friends… Overpowering structure, thick, dense, still compact, and in need of time to expand. With time and cellar aging, this wine will reward those who wait with pure emotion delivered by vibrant, mature, solid tannin. This wine has true backbone and substance, a richness of flavor and that primeval force that leaves you speechless.

—Franco Ziliani

Stay tuned for part 2, Franco’s notes on the 2005 Barolo by Giacosa!

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