A Birthday Dinner

September, 2006

After a long day on the tasting trail nothing beats a simple home-cooked meal featuring the best of the classic Piedmontese comfort foods enjoyed with close friends. We started with insalata russa, a salad of boiled potatoes, carrots and peas dressed with mayonnaise that when well-prepared is always greater than the sum of its humble parts. That was followed by a plate of roasted peppers stuffed with tuna, another Piedmontese classic. Although I have tasted Bruno Giacosa's 2000 Barolo Riserva Le Rocche del Falletto on several ocassions, this was the first time I actually had the luxury of drinking a bottle at the dinner table. It was a highly pleasurable wine, with a gorgeous, expressive nose and a lovely core of sweet ripe fruit. It showed excellent length and purity as well an accessible, open personality typical of the 2000 vintage, giving an overall impression of being a very delicate version of this Barolo. While I wouldn't place it among Giacosa's greatest Falletto or Rocche del Falletto Riservas, it was nonetheless an engaging wine. As it turned out I tasted the 2003 and 2004 versions of this wine the following day, both of which offer much promise.

A deeply flavored roasted vegetable soup and an impossibly delicate brasato (braised beef) signaled the arrival of early fall, when Piedmontese cuisine and Nebbiolo are perhaps at the height of their splendor. More lively in its color and flavors than the 2000 Barolo Riserva Le Rocche del Falletto, Giacosa's 2001 Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà offered a wonderful contrast to that wine in its nuanced, well-delineated aromatics and vibrant layers of fruit. It too offered great length, with a more structured personality, super-fine tannins and an eternal finish. I was also happy to observe that the wine has begun to absorb the new oak which has been evident in some of my prior tastings. Although the Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà opened up with some time in the glass my sense was that this magical Barbaresco was showing just a glimpse of its true potential. A plate of artisan hazelnut ice cream was the perfect way to finish to this simple, yet immensely enjoyable dinner.


Insalata russa

Roasted peppers stuffed with tuna

Roasted vegetable soup


Hazelnut ice cream



Bruno Giacosa Barolo Riserva Le Rocche del Falletto



Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà


--Antonio Galloni