It’s a courageous thing to do, and I can’t think of many wine producers who would do the same. I was at the 80th birthday of Bruno Giacosa, the legendary winemaker of Piedmont, about a week ago and he told me that he wasn’t going to bottle his 2006 Barolos or Barbarescos.
"I just don’t like the quality of the wines," he said, as we ate lunch and drank some of his fabulous Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto including the 100-point 2000. "I just don’t like the way they are. They are not good enough for me. So I am not going to bottle them."
I asked Bruno if I could taste a couple samples of the reds he was not going to bottle, and he agreed. I tried at the winery a 2006 Barbaresco Asili and 2006 Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto. The Asili seemed a little jammy and dull but very good nonetheless. The Le Rocche del Falletto was near outstanding quality with focused fruit and bright acidity but a little dry on the finish. This said, they were not up to the usual glory of Bruno Giacosa’s reds.
I tasted some 2005s of the same wines and they were much more refined, focused, structured and pure. There was no comparison.
Giacosa is a perfectionist, even at 80. He walks with a crutch now, but his heart and passion is 100 percent for making great wines. The legend lives, and he lives by his love of great Nebbiolo.
This is not to say that the 2006 vintage in Piedmont is not an outstanding one. I think it could be, although I don’t think it is on the same level as 2007, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2001 or 2000. I have tasted many outstanding 2006 Nebbiolos from barrel in wineries. And I will be tasting the 2006 Barbarescos in bottle very soon. So stay tuned.
But when a winemaker decides that his wines are not good enough to bottle and sells them in bulk, that’s a serious decision, and a costly one considering how expensive Giacosa’s Barolos and Barbarescos are. But great winemakers should always follow their instincts and passions—that’s why we pay a premium for their wines.