More is (not always) preferred to less – 2012 Bruno Giacosa Barbera d’Alba

More is preferred to less“, that’s what my first Economics professor exclaimed. I wasn’t comfortable with this idea, and thirty years later, I’m still not, though I understand the context a little more now.

Last night I pulled a 2012 Bruno Giacosa Barbera d’Alba, a bottle I acquired in a great little shop inside San Gimignano last year. I let the bottle Audoze for about 90 minutes, then poured it into decanter to aerate as I finished the meal preparation. I was looking forward to tasting it.

A few things are very obvious with the wines of Bruno Giacosa – there’s a lot of focus, a lot of purity. These wines offer great structure, intensity; they’re almost too focused. I as much as I appreciate all of the aforementioned, I also value (and prefer) balance. Last night’s bottle had most, but not all, of these things. I walked away feeling, wondering, what the wine might have been like, had it been able to incorporate a factor of elegance the way it had in its intense focus.

bg barb 12 a

Here’s my tasting note (a little less than half the bottle remains to be tasted tonight, I will update this post if it’s warranted):

6 March, 2017: 2012 Bruno Giacosa Barbera d’Alba – “Large-scaled, with good acidity and unique complexity, but ultimately just too much for mid-week fare. If you’ve never had a young Giacosa Barbera before, you really should fasten your seat belt first – this is not your father’s Barbera. Actually, it’s no one’s Barbera…except Giacosa’s. Medium ruby core; looks quite serious in the glass. Initial aromas are a mixture of gravel(s) – some hot, some cool – soil, multi-vitamin and some muted red/purple floral. The entry is huge, though in typical Giacosa style, it’s properly lifted; it’s never chewy, and it maintains this special balance of density and cut. In many ways it reminds me of some new world efforts that emphasize power, but in other ways, it uses its old world sensibilities to remain interesting – to a point. I say to a point, because this is a huge wine, and there’s not too many things one could pair ideally with this effort. To be sure, it should rest a little more in the cellar (though I’m not expecting any more complexity, just, perhaps, some more integration), and it could have used more air than I gave it (just 30 minutes in decanter; 60-90 minutes would have been better, I think), but ultimately, this doesn’t have the finesse I prefer in my wines these days – no lightness of touch. No lightness of anything with this one. By the second glass, more fruit has emerged on the nose, though the palate remains a bit too serious, built like a tank, if you will. There’s really nothing joyous about tanks. I will open the 2012 G. Conterno Barbera Cascina Francia tonight, it might be fun to check on it even if I know it’s way too soon. 14,5% abv. recommended to those that prefer power over elegance.
Even the purity seemed to get lost here, overwhelmed by the sheer power of it all; seemed a shame.

Served non-blind; seriously over-powered a hearty, (ground beef) meat red sauce with spaghetti.

** update day #2 ** half of the bottle, kept overnight inside the fridge, revealed a wine that offered oak first, and fruits a distant second. The relative strength of the acids/wood tannins on top of the prominent oak further occluded any sense of harmony or freshness **


(header photo: the first pour of the wine, its color)

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