To me, the beauty of Barolo and Barbaresco lies in their strong sense of history. I tend to prefer the old-timers, and not just because I'm a little sentimental. In Piemonte, more than any other region, the older winemakers are links operating in a chain of generations, connecting all the way back to the birth of the wine. They are the sons and daughters of the people who have made wine for decades, even centuries--before wars and during them, before and after recessions, no matter what. Before the influx of Swiss and German wine lovers, before scores and journals and newsletters and columns, these winemakers showed endless dedication to their grapes and their cellars. They were willing to go broke just to keep making a wine they considered the best in the world, the wine their fathers and grandfathers made.
Third-generation winemaker Bruno Giacosa, who celebrates his 86th birthday this year, is the standard-bearer for traditional Barolo and Barbaresco (although if you're talking just Barolo, then Bartolo Mascarello, Giuseppe Rinaldi and Giacomo Conterno sit alongside). Last week, I was very proud to bring you the 2011 Giacosa Barolo Falletto di Serralunga, and this week, I'm following up that offer with Bruno's 2012 Barbaresco Asili. It's really early for this Barbaresco--even if 2012 was a warm vintage--but this bottle has all the earmarks of a tremendous wine. Bruno's longtime enologist, Dante Scaglione, returned in 2011, and this Barbaresco shows why these two men are such a dream team for those of us who love traditional Piemonte wines.
I'm bracketing this Giacosa release with one vintage Burgundy from George Noëllat and one new release from Renzo Seghesio. Noëllat's Echézeaux is about as traditional as you can find, and this bottle shows why 1978 is legendary among Burgundy lovers. While not strictly traditional, Renzo Seghesio's Barolo carries its Pajana terroir, and it'll appeal to Italian wine newbies as well as those of you who know your way around those sweeping hills of Barolo.