Bruno Giacosa’s Barolo and Barbaresco wines are world famous. Tending 17 hectares across both villages, as well as bolstering the portfolio with grapes purchased from growers with whom there are long standing relationships, the Bruno Giacosa estate is one of the most respected producers in the region. The wines, put simply, are outstanding.
The family’s wine making name can be traced back 1871 when Carlo Giacosa began vinifying grapes acquired from a network of growers around the town of Alba, essentially good old fashioned négocient work. Following the second world war, the young Bruno started to learn the family business.
It wasn’t long before Giacosa was one of the most respected names in Barbaresco. Bruno believed wine should be an expression of terroir. This concept is often peddled by producers today, but Bruno acted on this belief. In 1964 the family bottled their first single vineyard Barbaresco, ‘Santo Stefano’. The same ethos was quickly applied to other wines from Barolo, as well as expressions of Barbera, Dolcetto and Arneis.
With the company maturing and new global markets opening up, the 1980s and 90s ushered in a period of growth. Bruno began to acquire highly sought after parcels of vines, notably Falletto di Serralunga in Barolo. A few years later plots within the well regarded Asili and Rabajà vineyards in Barbaresco became available. These were the source of some of his favourite wines from decades earlier. La Morra in Barolo was also added to growing stable of impressive sites.
Today Bruno’s daughter Bruna runs things. She has been at the helm since 2006 and continued to develop the family philosophy of respecting the importance of place. Single ‘Cru’ bottlings are produced exclusively from family owned vineyards under the label Azienda Agricola Falletto di Bruno Giacosa. Wines made from purchased fruit are sold as Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa.
Over the years greater emphasis has been placed on understanding his vineyard plots, understanding how Nebbiolo reacts to the various intricacies of site. The aim is always to bring the grape to its most natural point of physiological ripeness. This deeper understanding of the growing cycle has impacted on how things are done in his cellars in Nieve. Such knowledge has been applied to rising temperatures meaning that things have changed slightly over the years. Working with riper fruit has allowed maceration times to be reduced for example.
With the company’s roots firmly in the 19th century, the Giacosa name has always been about tradition. However, the changing tastes of the global consumer have not triggered a change in style. While many producers pursued vineyard and cellar techniques that would lead to richer, riper wines more accessible perhaps in youth, the company remained committed to a more classical style of wine. French barrique is not part of the equation. Instead the gentler touch imparted by 5000 litre ‘botti’ is preferred.
The estate has for many years now relied on longtime winemaker, Dante Scaglione. He worked with Bruno Giacosa for 14 years before moving on. In 2011 though he returned as a consulting oenologist; his experience and insight into the various vineyards clearly invaluable.
The wines are magnificent and as one might expect, carry steep prices to match. They are however all about freshness and elegance. Both in Barbaresco and Barolo, all these years on, the Giacosa name is still synonymous with having tamed Nebbiolo’s rustic tannin to produce wines that are nothing short of cultural monuments for the region.