Italy’s winemaking heritage stretches back centuries, making it more impressive when a contemporary producer reaches pioneer-like stature. Dubbed the “Genius of Nieve,” Bruno Giacosa sought to perfect the wines of Piedmont, excelling with the region’s traditional grape varieties but most importantly, Nebbiolo from Barbaresco and Barolo. With a career that extended nearly eight decades, he sustained a legendary reputation that continues to endure beyond his passing in 2018. Read on to learn about Giacosa’s story.
The Genius of Nieve
Teenage Bruno Giacosa entered and learned the family wine business as the third generation, absorbing invaluable guidance from his father and grandfather. As their bulk winemaking efforts required purchased grapes, Bruno’s discerning standards eventually led to assembling a faithful group of quality-focused growers to rely upon for Barbaresco production. After forging his own path, a 1961 Barbaresco Riserva became the first wine of Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa. In 1964, he conceived Piedmont’s first single-vineyard wine – a Barbaresco from the Santo Stefano cru. As the popularity of estate bottling caught on throughout the region, Bruno found it more challenging to procure all the superior fruit he needed and adapted accordingly.
In 1982, Giacosa established Azienda Falletto after acquiring vineyards in Asili, Rabajà, La Morra, and Serralunga, growing, producing, and bottling a portion of wine each year. Between this and the Casa Vinicola production, Barbaresco and Barolo releases were supplemented by Nebbiolo d’Alba, Barbera d’Alba, Dolcetto d’Alba, and Roero Arneis among others. Giacosa and Vietti were instrumental in rescuing the Arneis grape from extinction in the 1970s.
Over the following years, Giacosa established stringent standards for wine quality that would relegate bottles or vintages that didn’t make the cut to become sfuso (bulk wine to sell off). On the flip side, he graced those he deemed the absolute best wines produced with red labels (as opposed to the usual white). These special Riserva bottlings were few and far between, establishing them among the most collectible wines in the world.
One of Bruno’s two daughters, Bruna Giacosa, began taking on a more prominent management role for the business in 2004, eventually overseeing the entire production after her father’s death in 2018.
The breathtaking Falletto vineyard within Serralunga d’Alba spans approximately 13 hectares today. It contains steep terraced hillsides shaped like a natural amphitheater rich in limestone and smaller proportions of clay. A high diurnal range results in warm daytime temperatures and cooler nights, leading to grapes with greater phenolic development, which encourages better color stability and tannin maturity while preserving acidity. Ample vegetative growth also contributes positively to the overall health of the vines. The vineyard provides Nebbiolo for the Barolo Falletto and Barolo Falletto Vigne Le Rocche bottlings as well as Dolcetto and Barbera. The estate makes all possible efforts to protect the clones and indigenous genetic material grown here, promoting their wines’ unique character.
Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto 2015
Nebbiolo vines on a southwest exposure within the Falletto vineyard inform this richly structured Barolo, which matured for 32 months in French oak botti and six more months in bottle before release. Perfumed red fruit, rose petals, tobacco, and tar-like mineral notes give but a small preview of things to come. Undoubtedly, it’s a red wine of tremendous potential that will make an outstanding addition to even the most well-stocked cellar. Renowned critic James Suckling wrote in his 98-point review that the wine was “One of the most dense and vertical Falletos I have tasted,” and recommended trying some around the ten-year mark. [2015 Available Here]
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