A family affair: Introducing Bruno Giacosa
“It is people and communities that are behind our favourite bottles.”
If her self-proclaimed title as “the boss” of Piedmont was not enough to convince you of her esteem, then the wealth of incredible wines created under the stewardship of Bruna Giacosa just might. Belonging to a large cohort of Piedmontese matriarchs, Giacosa is just one of many incredible women who are continuing to craft Italian wines driven by honouring terroir, a passion for the local area, and translating history.
Since 2006, she has been at the helm of Bruno Giacosa, taking over from her father, the legendary Italian winemaker and namesake of this eponymous estate. Creating wines that were all individual reflections of his own personal histories, the artisanal vigneron is famed for depicting the beating heart of Piedmont throughout his work.
Described as the “Genius of Neive”, Bruno begun learning the craft of viticulture from the age of 15, having left school during World War II to follow in the footsteps of his family. His parents Carlo and Mario were both commerciantes, who bought grapes from different plots and bottled wine produced across multiple estates in Langhe. This saw Bruno work across many sites within the region, learning about the varied terroir that makes Piedmont so special and the haunting and expressive qualities of Nebbiolo. By 1964 he began bottling single vineyard Barolos and Barbarescos and was already respected as one of the most valued producers in the region, without even owning a single plot to his name.
It was a few decades later in 1982 that the winemaker purchased his first vineyard – the Falletto di Serralunga of which the estate now owns thirteen hectares. Fast forward to the present day and the winery can count both the Asili and Rabaja vineyards in Barbaresco within their portfolio. All aged in oak for approximately 32 months and drawing on the grey marl and sandstone terroir of which Langhe is famed, the wine produced by this estate are both warm, rich and expansive.
With a legendary status that once rivalled that of Piedmontese stalwarts Gaja and the Produttori del Barbaresco, Bruno’s work was far more than just hype. He created wines that were an extension of the self, and his intrinsic connection to his produce had even occasionally impacted their release. As an example, both the 2006 and 2010 Barolo and Barbaresco vintages ceased to make their way to market. Considered two of the top vintages in Piedmont, it appears wild to us that the estate should choose not to promote these wines during these years. But as Bruna later revealed, her father’s suffering of a stroke in 2006, and the latter breaking of a femur in 2010 meant that vintages weren’t made public, in a bid not to immortalise these harrowing moments for the vigneron.
Bruno sadly passed away aged 88 in 2018, however his daughter, Bruna, continues to honour his legacy. The estate’s famed “red label” wines are a collector’s staple which are bottled only in extra special vintages. Representing one of the most coveted wines in the region the “Asili” Barbaresco Riserva reveals an intense depth and richness of which Bruna is known for, and is just one within an impressive portfolio of expressive and expansive wines that continue the work of her father.
In a sector that is still so often dominated by men, Bruna is one of many women in Italy who are continuing to make huge strides within the sector. With networks such as Le Donne Del Vino at the helm (comprising over 1000 women wine professionals), and with internationally acclaimed estates such as Antinori spearheaded by some of the most revered women in the trade, Italy is paving the way for women within viticulture globally.
One of the most revered and celebrated producers in Piedmont, Bruno Giacosa is a family affair whose excellent wines are the product of the passing down of Piedmontese history. The romantic link between wine and self is the footprint of a legacy that winemaker Bruno Giacosa leaves us, and is a reminder that it is people and communities that are behind our favourite bottles, extending beyond their life on our tables.
Header image: via Armit Wines.