1990 Barbaresco Gallina Bruno Giacosa

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Average critic rating : 94.0 points



The 1990 Barbareso Gallina is simply awesome. The wine boasts a seamless core of rich red fruits in a soft, generous style. This opulent Barbaresco possesses impeccable balance and tons of class. Floral notes intermingled with bright red fruits provide lift on the finish, adding lovely balance to the dense fruit. This is the most approachable of Giacosa’s 1990s but has plenty of stuffing to last another twenty years. The 1978 is still going strong. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2025. Bruno Giacosa’s wines are well represented in my personal cellar, which was the source for the vast majority of these bottles. I have had the good fortune to taste all of Giacosa’s 1989s and 1990s from multiple sources over the last year, and therefore can report that these notes are representative of what readers can expect from well-stored bottles. I consider 1989 and 1990 – along with 1978, 1982, 1996, 2001, 2004 and 2007 – to be among Giacosa’s finest vintages. The bevy of Red Label Riservas in this article says it all. In 1989 and 1990 Giacosa produced an immense number of legendary wines. In fact, he is one of the very few producers who did exceptionally well in both years. In general the 1989s are a touch more layered and nuanced, while the 1990s are impressive for their massive concentration. If forced to state a preference, I would say 1990 gets the nod for its consistency from top to bottom, even if few of those wines reach the sublime heights of the very finest 1989s. Still, these are relatively small distinctions at this high level. Readers who have the opportunity to taste any of these wines should not think twice. By the late 1980s Giacosa had begun to move towards an enlightened traditional style with the introduction of the French oak casks he now uses exclusively. Fermentations and barrel aging, however, remained very much within the framework of traditional winemaking, resulting in a combination that was electric. Readers will note that many of Giacosa’s Red Label Riservas during this time were made in small lots (such as the 1990 Asili and 1989 Collina Rionda), and that for practical purposes those wines were aged in medium-size casks rather than large casks. Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate # 187.

Bruno Giacosa: The Importance

Long recognised as one of the best producers of Barolo and Barbaresco, Bruno Giacosa’s wines represent a benchmark in quality, and, as Parker writes, “…his majestic Barolos and Barbarescos build a cultish legion of admirers that is equalled by just a small handful of producers around the world.


Bruno Giacosa: The Insight

The philosophy of the winemaking at this estate combines huge respect for tradition, whilst making use of modern technology in order to obtain the best expression of each terroir, with the aim being to create wines which are extremely rich in flavour and elegant in style.


Wines from Bruno Giacosa are bottled under two separate labels. Those marked with ‘Azienda Agricola Falletto di Bruno Giacosa’ are wines made from the product of the estate’s vineyards. Under this label, the estate produces two Barbaresco’s, three Barolo’s, a Barbera d’Alba and a Dolcetto d’Alba. Wines are also bottled under the label ‘Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa’ and these are wines made from the old practice of purchasing in grapes, from highly trusted sources. Bruno Giacosa has in fact built a reputation for himself as an excellent selector of fruit. Under this label there is a Roero Arneis, an Extra-Brut Spumante, a Barbaresco, two Nebbiolo d’Alba’s, one Barbera d’Alba and two Dolcetto d’Alba’s.


The winemaking at this estate is highly complex, as a large range of wines are produced and Bruno insists that the fruit from each individual vineyard must be vinified separately so that they can perfectly express their terroir. Most of the wines produced from this estate’s vines are single vineyard, and in the best years, some of the wines are bottled under a red ‘Riserva’ label.


Of the 100 point 2004 Barolo Riserva Le Rocche del Falletto, Antonio Galloni writes that it is “simply as profound as wine can be. Period. Strikingly layered, perfumed and sensual to the core, the 2004 has it all… Mint, rose petal and melted road tar grace the exquisite finish. The level of intensity here is simply mind-blowing.” Meanwhile James Suckling writes in his 100 point review that the wine is “spellbinding” and “extraordinary”.


Robert Parker is also a huge fan of the wine produced by this estate, and describes that 1990 Barolo Riserva Falletto as “a reference point wine that readers won’t want to miss”. Although wine critics might sometimes disagree their assessments of various wines, one thing they certainly all agree on is the outstanding quality of the wine produced by Bruno Giacosa.


The biggest concern at this estate is quality, often to the sacrifice of profit. In 1991, 1992, 1994, 2002 and 2006, Giacosa chose to declassify all single vineyard Barolo’s and Barbaresco’s, putting those grapes in the non single vineyard wine, as he did not believe that the grapes were of sufficient quality to make the single vineyard wines.


Some of the best vintages at this estate have been 1996, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2011.


Bruno Giacosa: The Background

Bruno Giacosa began working in his family business at the age of 15, and is the third generation of his family to make wine in the region of Langhe. Although initially all the grapes used to make the wine were purchased from certain select vineyards and specially selected growers, by the late 1980’s Giacosa started acquiring vineyards in the communes of Serralunga d'Alba, La Morra, and Barbaresco. This estate now owns 22 hectares of vineyards in these regions. The Falletto vineyard in particular is renowned for its microclimate, encouraged by its amphitheatre like shape, and low yielding vines, and this is the vineyard from which the famous Barolo Falletto is made.


The estate is now run with increasing involvement and leadership from Bruno’s daughter Bruna.

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