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New Winemaker for the Great Bruno

Posted: Mar 7, 2008 5:57pm ET

Bruno Giacosa, the grand poobah of Barolo and Barbaresco, has changed his winemaker. He has hired Giorgio Lavagna, the head winemaker for the Batasiolo winery in La Morra for 23 years. Giacosa’s former winemaker, Dante Scaglione, is moving on as a consultant in the region after 16 years with Giacosa.

Dante, who has spent time with Giacosa for over the last ten years, must have learned a lot from the great Bruno. I am curious to see who his clients will be in the future …

For me, Bruno Giacosa embodies what is great about a fabulous Barolo or Barbaresco. He is a quiet, stern man with nerves of steel and a dedication to fine winemaking like an apostle to Jesus. His structured yet refined Nebbiolos are heavenly. I have learned so much tasting wines with the man over the last decade.

I just last week carried a bottle of the 2000 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili Riserva to Havana for a special dinner with friends prior to the annual cigar festival there. It was unbelievable. It is a wine with such subtle rich fruit and wonderfully polished tannins. Maybe I was even conservative giving it 98 points for the magazine?

Bruno suffered a minor stroke two years ago, but he is back in shape now. According to his dynamic daughter, Bruna, who travels the world selling and promoting her family’s winery, “My father is back to work in the winery, but needs the help of a hands-on, dedicated person.”

Good luck to Lavagna. “This is a great challenge,” Lavagna said today. “The Giacosa winery is one of the historic wineries of Piedmont and I look forward to profiting from the more than 60-years experience of Bruno Giacosa.”

Lavagna’s experience in making a full range of Piedmont wines for Batasiolo--from the sparkling Moscato to Dolcetto, Barbera and the Nebbiolo-based wines, such as Barolo and Barbaresco--will put him in good stead at the Giacosa winery, which produces a similarly full range of Piedmont wines. But no doubt, he will improve as a winemaker under the eye of Bruno.

I heard about the change today from a press release that stated:

"Following the spreading of rumours on the Net, Casa Vinicola Giacosa Bruno wishes to bring to the attention of the world of wine in particular an important change that has taken place in its technical direction; as we know, the Web is not always as reliable as it could be, tending as it does to absorb just about everything like a giant sponge.

After many years of working with the company, winemaker Dante Scaglione is leaving to undertake a tough new challenge as a consultant.

The Winery has accepted his decision, thanking him for his precious co-operation down the years, and wishing him every success in the future."

Good luck to everyone involved ...

David Nerland
Scottsdale —  March 8, 2008 5:58pm ET
James,One of the wine groups I belong to had a dinner Wednesday night in Phoenix and we tasted 13 different Giacosa's, the WOTN was the 96 Barolo Riserva. Great wine. IMO-Bruno might be old, but he is still the master.
James Suckling
 —  March 8, 2008 8:39pm ET
Thanks for the invitation! What was the line up?
Dylan Morgan
London —  April 3, 2008 12:47pm ET
James, I am looking to get a group together for a 2000 Barolo tasting of which I have 7 out of the 10 wines you rated 98-100 points. Do you think it is to early to try these now or should I wait? and would you like to join us? either here in London or in Sussex if you think they should be tasted soon. Dylan
James Suckling
 —  April 4, 2008 3:52am ET
Dylan. I drank a magnum of 2000 Sandrone Le Vigne last night at VinItaly. It as beautiful. So, go for it.

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