Bruno Giacosa Falletto Dolcetto d'Alba 2008
The 2008 Dolcetto d’Alba Falletto is an attractive, mid-weight Dolcetto with no hard edges. In this vintage the Falletto is rather high toned and aromatically expressive but the darker, baritone notes this vineyard is capable of are missing. Still, this is a very pretty if somewhat atypical wine to enjoy over the next few years. The Falletto is a touch more stern and tannic than the Sorano, so it is best enjoyed at the dinner table. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2012.
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!