The 2003 Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto is a fascinating wine. It is classic Giacosa, with a lovely core of sweet roses, raspberries, licorice and menthol that is currently hiding under an imposing wall of tannins. It is also a wine of contrasts, at times open and accessible, at others brooding and shut down. As it sits in the glass the fruit gradually emerges to fill out the wine’s structure. It had only improved when I re-tasted it several days after first opening the bottle. That said, it will require further cellaring to soften the tannins, as the wine has shut down considerably since bottling. Made from the heart of the Falletto vineyard, it clearly benefits from the age of the vines in these selected plots. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2023. AG
At a time in life when many of his colleagues have begun to slow down, Bruno Giacosa continues to make stunning wines of the highest level. Of course Giacosa has the good fortune of having the services of long-time oenologist Dante Scaglione, who is one of the most prodigiously talented winemakers in Italy. Although age has slowed Giacosa down somewhat, he was in fine form during the several hours we spent tasting his 2004, 2005 and 2006 Barolos and Barbarescos from barrel earlier this year. Simply put, 2004 will go down as one of the all-time great Giacosa vintages for both Barolo and Barbaresco. The Red Label Riservas are the Barbaresco Asili and the Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto, but his other wines aren't too far behind in terms of quality. From cask, the Barolos revealed slightly more promise, but that may be splitting hairs at this level. In 2004 Giacosa also fulfilled a long-standing dream by making his first Barolo from La Morra, the Barolo Croera, which will be released next year. The Croera is made from a newly-acquired vineyard in the Serradenari district of La Morra, an area best known for its Dolcettos. So far Giacosa's 2005s appear to be well-balanced, yet smaller-scaled wines that will likely drink well relatively early, while the 2006s are decidedly bigger and more powerful. I also noted a marked improvement in the quality of the Barbaresco Santo Stefano, which is the only single-vineyard wine the estate still makes from purchased fruit. Our tasting ended with the 1967 Barbaresco Riserva Asili. It was, in a word...sublime. The world will have to wait for the 2004 Barolos and Barbarescos to be released, in the meantime readers will find no shortage of compelling offerings among this set of new releases from Bruno Giacosa. The 2006 Dolcettos are excellent to outstanding, while the 2005 Barberas reflect the more modest qualities of that vintage. Giacosa is among the producers whose views on the 2003 vintage for Barolo and Barbaresco have changed dramatically in recent years. While many producers draw comparisons with 1947, Giacosa is one of the very few who can speak from personal experience. At first pessimistic, he initially thought he might not bottle any of his top wines but as time has passed his stance has changed, and today he is much more enthusiastic about the vintage.
Surprisingly fresher than the Asili from the same vintage. Loads of fruit and velvety tannins with a delicate raisin and dried strawberry character. Very long finish. Drink this now, it is very gulpable at the moment.
The 2003 Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto has quite a bit more breadth and volume than the straight Barolo Falletto, but at the same time the intense, forward personality of the year is more evident. The classic Giacosa perfume struggles to emerge, but the ripeness of the vintage remains very much in evidence. The tannins are a bit firm, but they will only intensify as the fruit fades, so the 2003 is best enjoyed before that sets in.
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