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Barolo not better than Barbaresco

It is wrong to suggest that Barolo makes better and more age-worthy wines than Barbaresco according to Bruna Giacosa.

Bruna Giacosa
Bruna Giacosa addressed attendees of a seminar on Giacosa wines organised by Armit Wines in London

Addressing attendees of a seminar on Giacosa’s Piedmontese reds, Bruna – Bruno Giacosa‘s daughter – expressed some frustration at the commonly held belief that Barolo is the source of the world’s best Nebbiolo.

“It is absolutely not true that Barbaresco is less important that Barolo – believe me, Barolo and Barbaresco are both great, great wines.”

Responding to the view that Barbaresco produces more feminine wine styles, she added, “Why do you say Barbaresco is more feminine? Maybe because you think it’s more elegant… and yes, in Barbaresco you find elegance, but you find it in Barolo too.”

Then, picking up on the idea that Barolo produces more long-lived Nebbiolos, she said “People say Barolo ages for longer, but no, Barbaresco can age for a long time.”

In an interview with the drinks business after the London-based event, she said that Barolo’s elevated image may stem from its memorable and easy-to-pronounce name.

“People think Barolo is a more important wine than Barbaresco and talk about Barolo and Brunello as the great wines of Italy, and that could be because of the sound of the word Barolo, it is easier than Barbaresco.”

Giacosa also said that the 2011 vintage will be the last for Giacosa’s Barbaresco from the Santo Stefano cru.

Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano
Giacosa has stopped producing a Barbaresco from the Santo Stefano cru

She told db that the decision to stop bottling this wine – which she described as stylistically the closest to Barolo – was primarily due to supply problems.

According to Giacosa, the producer can no longer receive enough grapes from the cru to fill a single 110 hectolitre oak cask, although there are “other reasons” why the production of Santo Stefano has ceased, which she was unwilling to reveal.

Meanwhile, speaking of the winemaking and maturation of Giacosa’s wines, she stressed the traditional nature of the techniques.

In particular, for maturing the Nebbiolos, Giacosa said they use either 55hl or 100hl untoasted, French oak casks which are 20 to 25 years old.

“We regenerate the barrels with excellent results but we don’t replace them, because the new oak is not good compared to the oak of the past – the general quality is not as high; it is difficult today to get good oak.”

As for the winemaking, Giacosa noted a gentle extraction procedure with just a few, delicate pump overs, while the producer doesn’t crush the grapes because, she said, “we prefer to have little colour but the pure, typical character of Nebbiolo.”

She also briefly discussed the latest vintage in the Langhe.

“2012 is very good, and another warm vintage, which we are very happy about,” she told db, before comparing it to 2005 in terms of weather conditions and wine style.

In terms of sales of Giacosa wines, although the US market is still the biggest for the producer, she said that Asia was experiencing the fastest growth, mainly driven by demand from Hong Kong, which she described as “a great market”.

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