The late great Bruno Giacosa stands as one of the most respected producers of traditionally styled Barolo and Barbaresco, crafting long-aging wines that are beloved by aficionados and coveted by collectors. Surprisingly, Giacosa himself was not an enologist. He learned by working with his father and grandfather; thus Giacosa felt that wines were better in the past, when there was less sophisticated protocol for both grapes and wine, along with less handling and lower yields. In January 2018, Bruno passed away at the age of 88, leaving his estate in the very capable hands of his children, who trained at his knee, as he trained at his father’s and grandfather’s.
Working with his father, Bruno became fascinated by traditional Piemonte grapes, particularly Nebbiolo. This training formed the basis of the Giacosa philosophy, which includes intentionally small grape yields, limited treatments and handling of the grapes while on the vine, traditional vinification, and an emphasis on terroir and typicity in crafting the estate’s wines. Under the auspices of two separate labels, Azienda Agricola di Falletto (di Bruno Giacosa) and Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa, Giacosa makes wines both from the estate’s own vineyards and with grapes sourced from known growers from vines grown around the village of Neive.
While Bruno pioneered the bottling of cru Barolo and Barbaresco wines in the 1960s, he didn’t purchase his own vineyards until decades later. In 1982, Bruno bought the Falletto vineyard in Serralunga, and this famed site is the home of not only Giacosa’s famed Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto but also its esteemed Barolo Falletto. In 1996, Bruno purchased famed Barbaresco plots Asili and Rabajá, and these important vineyards provide the grapes for the estate’s two collectable Barbaresco wines. The estate now owns almost 50 acres. While the estate is most famous for its Nebbiolo wines, Giacosa also crafts Barbera, Spumante and Arneis wines–in fact, Bruno is one of the winemakers recognized for helping to rescue Arneis from the brink of extinction in the 1970s.
Bruno was often typecast, regarded as a pure, unwavering traditionalist and ranked with the most respected producers of Piemonte’s traditional guard, including Bartolo Mascarello and Giacomo Conterno. While his wines certainly exemplified the classic style of Barolo in their characteristic leanness and restraint, Bruno was not absolute in his approach, operating in a state-of-the-art winery and utilizing stainless steel. Giacosa produced his cru bottlings only in the best vintages, and wines that failed to meet his standards were declassified and sold as Nebbiolo or remained unbottled. Bruno, known as the “Genius of Neive,” may have passed away, but his legacy remains in the estate that bears his name and the winemaking that he taught his children.