Wine Talk

Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz

Mature Italians turns out to mean a lot of Giacosa.

Posted by Gregory Dal Piaz, Dec 11, 2008.

I met with a semi-regular Sunday tasting group last week for the usual embarrassment of riches we indulge in. The loose theme for this dinner was “mature Italians” but I think the organizer did a little coercing seeing as the line-up consisted mostly of Giacosa! Not that I am complaining!

We had some visitors from Colorado join us, Rob and his lovely wife Melissa are rumored to like Spanish wines so we snuck in a bottle for them and rounded out the selection with a pair of wines from Giacomo Conterno and one from Aldo to boot!

The 1970 La Rioja Alt 890 Gran Reserva came from a bottle with only a high shoulder fill but it none-the-less was classic mature Rioja, a little funky but complex and pure. I had hoped to pair this with grilled octopus but that dish was not on our menu this eve so I consoled myself with a few fried morsels, which were handled admirably well with the acidic spine of this wine.

Next we paired the 1974 Giacosa Barbaresco with the Giacomo Conterno Barolo of the same vintage. The wines were worlds apart with the Giacosa being evolved but silken while the Conterno was fresh and youthful with blazing acidity. I can’t wait to try the Conterno again as this was the best bottle of this vintage that I have had but it probably would have benefitted from some more air.

Our next flight did a disservice to the 1985 Roberto Voerzio La Serra as it was paired with an insanely good 1988 Giacosa Villero. I’ve had this Giacosa on several occasions before but never from a bottle with such precision and freshness. As compelling a 1988 Barolo as I have had. The Voerzio on the other hand was relatively unevolved for a 1985 and lacked the definition and subtle intensity of the Giacosa. It really deserves another look with a more leisurely approach and less competition.

Our final pairing pitted Giacosa’s 1993 Rionda against his 1995 Falletto. The Rionda was the more complex bottling this evening but being a fan of the 1995 vintage I was captivated by the power and finish of the Falletto. This has been a black sheep in the Falletto family for years as it shut down virtually on release and while it is only half open, its fruit is finally beginning to assert itself. I really look forward to trying this wine over the next 2 decades as I fully expect this to be one the top wines of the vintage. The Rionda should not be over-looked, though I am not convinced that this is worth the 50% or so premium that it currently trades at. In light of what is being asked for current releases they are both steals!

We finished up with a tight and taut 1990 Granbussia that never really found its center. This is as brooding and unevolved a 1990 as I have come across.

We then got antsy and jumped into the unique 1959 Solaria Jonica which was as compelling as ever with it’s drippingly sweet yet exceptionally well balanced mix of black fruits, toffeed sweetness and light spice notes. It is a classic Italian dessert wine with few peers.

We then backtracked a bit; well actually I had just sniffed my Jonica before diving into these two off the list items. The 2006 Giacosa Nebbiolo Valmaggiore was perfectly fine but nothing more, simple and clean if totally uninspiring. I can think of a dozen Nebbiolos I’d rather drink and none is as expensive. On the other hand the 2006 Giacomo Conterno Barbera was a stunningly good example of the variety. So pure and deep it’s tough to think of a better example of Barbera, save perhaps other vintages of the same wines. While not inexpensive as far as Barbera goes this still offers fair value at this price point. The worlds greatest Barbera? You decide.

And that was another great Sunday done. Thanks to all who joined in and even those who sat on the beach is St. John sipping Pina Coladas while we stole his favorite Sunday night haunt for the evening!


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