2004 Barolo Le Rocche dell Falletto Riserva Bruno Giacosa

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Average critic rating : 99.0 points



The 2004 Barolo Riserva Le Rocche del Falletto is off the charts. Sweet roses, menthol, tar, licorice and minerals come together in a sensual, elegant style that recalls Giacosa’s legendary 1989 Riserva Collina Rionda, a wine many observers (this one included) place at the top of the hierarchy of all-time legendary Barolos. Ripe, sensual, and utterly spellbinding, the 2004 Riserva Le Rocche del Falletto offers superb elegance and pedigree. At this stage the wine remains surprisingly accessible. Readers will want to taste the 2004 Rocche as soon as possible as it will almost certainly head for a long period of dormancy in the near future. This magical Barolo will likely merit a perfect score in the future. The 2004 Rocche is the last wine Giacosa and former longtime oenologist Dante Scaglione produced together from start to finish and it is an appropriate bookend to a wonderful partnership that yielded so many profound wines. Anticipated maturity: 2024-2044. Bruno Giacosa created quite a stir when he announced this spring that he would not bottle any of his 2006 Barolos and Barbarescos. While I wasn’t surprised he would pass on bottling a few wines – as early as spring 2007 Giacosa did not present the 2006 Barbaresco Santo Stefano and Barolo Croera in my annual barrel tastings – the decision to skip an entire vintage prompted a back and forth volley of polemics that is such an integral part of the Italian way of life. Clearly Giacosa had a difficult emotional relationship with these wines from the start, as they were made in the year he suffered a stroke and was absent from the winery for long periods of time. Perhaps Giacosa simply wanted to cancel the entire year from his memory. Or maybe it is a case where the vintage quality in Giacosa’s vineyards and later of the wines themselves in the cellar did not live up to his exacting standards. Given the emotional weight attached to this year I am not sure anyone – even Giacosa himself – will fully understand all of the circumstances behind the decision not to bottle the wines. After having tasted Giacosa’s 2006 Barolos and Barbarescos on numerous occasions I am convinced he has bottled lesser wines in the past. It is important to remember that virtually all of Piedmont’s top estates are essentially small, family-run wineries, and in that regard Giacosa is no exception. What seems pretty obvious at this point is that under normal circumstances without emotional duress, Giacosa and his team would have been better equipped to deal with the challenges of the harvest. Giacosa’s decision is more a reflection of the estate’s inability to deal with a difficult harvest (for understandable reasons) rather than a commentary on the intrinsic quality of the vintage itself. Giacosa may also have been prompted to skip an average year for his wines based on the exceptional juice he put into the bottle in the surrounding 2004, 2005 and 2007 vintages. Sadly, prices for the top bottles – the Red Label Barolo and Barbaresco Riservas in particular – continue to climb as collectors throughout the world recognize the quality of the wines. Still, at the risk of sounding out of touch with today’s economic environment, it is pretty clear that Giacosa’s finest wines remain relatively well-priced within the context of the world finest and most collectible wines. A recent bottle of the 1989 Barbaresco Riserva Santo Stefano stood shoulder to shoulder with the 1989 Haut-Brion and Rousseau’s 1990 Chambertin....in fact, it may have even surpassed those icons! Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate # 185.

Bruno Giacosa is a revered Italian wine producer based in Nieve, in the Langhe region of Piemonte. Under the label Azienda Agricola Falletto (di Bruno Giacosa), he produces top quality Barolo and Barbaresco, as well as Dolcetto and Barbera from his 23 hectares of vines in prime vineyard sites. Giacosa also purchases grapes from growers with who he has long standing relationships, these wines are bottled under the label Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa. Regardless of which label is being used, his ambition it to make the highest quality wine possible, to the point where he will not attach his name to any wine considered inferior. Giacosa has also been known to declassify his single vineyard Barolos and Barbarescos, and did so in ’91,’92, ‘94, ’02 and ‘06. Conversely, in great vintages some of the best wines are bottled as Riserva under a distinct red label. Bruno Giacosa began learning his craft in 1944, at the age of 15. By the 60’s he had obtained a strong reputation as a perfectionist and was starting to bottle single vineyard Barolo and Barbaresco. In the early 80’s he acquired the renowned Falletto vineyard, home of his top Barolo. Today, Giacosa works alongside daughter, Bruna, and together they make world-class wines that are known for their remarkable elegance and longevity.

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