We have witnessed a revolution of wine making talent around the world in the past few decades. Where once single villages and counties could lay claim to being the world’s only reputable source of a certain varietal or blend, advances in oenology have made it possible for the likes of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and many others to flourish around the world. Personal preference aside, few could argue that the Cabernet blends of Napa are categorically inferior to those of Bordeaux, or that an Oregon Pinot Noir in all its grace and glory could never match up to one of its counterparts from Burgundy. Of course there are vintages and domaines that still stand out, but on the whole great wines are being made around the world.
Set against this most wonderful global proliferation of fine wine growing stands a few lonely bastions of regional supremacy. The varietals that despite all the time, money and science backing their global success still only truly sing to us when they come from their lands of yore. A foremost example of this trend are the Barolo and Barbaresco wines being made by Bruno Giacosa. No other Nebiollo iteration in the world can come anywhere close to matching the delicious depth and elegance one finds within the wines stamped with “Casa Vinicola BRUNO GIACOSA” or “Azienda Agricola FALLETTO” on their labels.
On the last Friday in June, HDH hosted a group of collectors and friends in the private dining room at Spiaggia to explore some of the best Barolo and Barbarescos that Mr. Bruno Giacosa has produced in the last 30+ years.
We started out with his underrated Spumante Extra Brut as guests from Hong Kong, Korea, Chicago and across the States gathered together. From the Spumante we moved on to his 2012 Arneis, a beautifully crisp white that is a perfect wine for a Chicago summer.
The Spumante and Arneis were delicious and a wonderful aperitif to the fine food and wine to come, but seeing as there were 8 reds to enjoy, we quickly turned our focus to them.
There were four flights of Barbaresco and four flights of Barolo, each poured in descending vintage order. The younger wines like the 2007 Barbaresco Santo Stefano and the 2008 Barolo, Falletto were outstanding young wines. Eminently approachable and enjoyable now, yet with an incredible potential for aging.
In addition to the 2007 Barbaresco, Santo Stefano we also enjoyed a 1998 (Riserva). It is an amazing wine, something everyone should have in their cellar, yet sadly as Giacosa turns to focus on Estate grown wines, the Santo Stefano is no longer being bottled by Giacosa and thus anyone looking to add this to their collection should run not walk in getting it done.
In total we tried three “Riservas”, the 1998 Barbaresco Santo Stefano, the 2004 Barbaresco, Asili and the 2001 Barolo Riserva, Rocche del Falletto from magnum and bearing Giacosa’s iconic garnet red Riserva label. The Giacosa Riserva label is of a few in the world one can see from across the room and instantly recognize the greatness within. The Riserva label is reserved only for wines from vintages of exceptional distinction. A standard for quality that is made even more respectable by the fact that not only do very few wines earn the right to wear the label, if a wine isn’t of a high enough standard, they will not produce a vintage at all.
Each of the three Riserva’s on this evening lived up to their luminary reputation, yet for myself and many in the room, it was the older wines of the evening that stole the show. The 1982 Barolo, Falleto was fantastic, but tops among the wines of the evening were the 1985 Barolo Villero and the 1978 Barbaresco, Gallina. It was in these wines that the true greatness of Bruno Giacosa can be seen. Stripped of their youth yet still vivacios, full of flavor and tied together with incredibly supple tannins. The wines were not in any fading in quality, they both seemed to have decades left in them. It was the kind of wine that stood so strong and elegant in the glass you could almost convince yourself that it will never grow old.
All in all it was a masterclass in the ageless beauty of Nebiolo. Paired up with a fantastic meal from Spiaggia and a beautiful Chicago summer beaming through the windows , it truly was an evening for the ages.