2008 Barbaresco Santo Stefano Bruno Giacosa

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Average critic rating : 87.0 points



The 2008 Barbaresco Santo Stefano has the same color the 1987 had when it was 20 years old, which is to say almost rose colored. I don’t think the 2008 will make its 20th birthday, however. This is a light, translucent, fleeting wine with very little fruit and body. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2016. ||I suppose it was bound to happen. Few wineries have been through as much stress in the last few years as Giacosa, and the wines have finally begun to show some cracks. Although he is doing better today, Bruno Giacosa’s health issues and subsequent recovery put a big strain on the winery. The departure of long-time oenologist Dante Scaglione in 2008 was another blow. Scaglione has since returned to the winery as a consultant, which is an encouraging development. Quite simply, the 2008 Barbareschi are the weakest wines I have ever tasted from Bruno Giacosa. The fact that some of Giacosa’s recent releases from his negociant operation are stronger than the wines made from estate fruit suggests some of the issues may be in the vineyards. Regardless, there is no other way to view these wines than as major disappointments. In November I will host my annual White Truffle Charity Dinner to benefit The Mt. Sinai Hospital. On that night I will open my last remaining bottles of Giacosa’s 1964 Barbaresco Riserva Santo Stefano and 1967 Barbaresco Riserva Asili (among other rarities) and raise a toast to the towering genius of Neive, with the sincerest wish that these new releases, and the 2008 Barbareschi in particular, represent what will ultimately be viewed as a small blemish on an otherwise extraordinary career.||A Leonardo Lo Cascio Selection, Winebow, Montvale, NJ; tel. (201) 445-0620. As of January 1, 2012, Giacosa’s new US importer will be Folio Fine Wine Partners, Napa, CA; tel. (707) 256-2700 Wine Advocate.October, 2011

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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