This is the moderately sloped Giachini vineyard of La Morra in the Barolo zone of Piemonte. It is a chilly January morning, about 9am. In the distance, down the hill a bit, you can see a figure, diligently and methodically performing some of the winter pruning needed. His name is Giovanni Corino, and he planted this parcel in 1953, farming it for the last 58 years. He is 78 years old. His family laughs, “He wouldn’t know what to do with himself, he’s been doing this so long.” Clearly, this place is a part of him, and he a part of it.
After years as sharecroppers, the family began domaine bottling in the mid-eighties, among the modernist renaissance producers led by their dear friend and neighbor, Elio Altare. The introduction of the use of french barrique, rotory temperature controlled fermenters, severely controlled yields per plant, with a Burgundian finesse driven aesthetic model marked the stylistic changes of these ‘modernists’. The two sons of the family, Renato and Giuliano, ran the estate togetether until 2005, when they agreed to separate the company. The younger son, Giuliano, now runs the original estate and historic label alongside his wife, Stefania.
I meet with both Giuliano and Stefania on a chilly January morning. We walk through the range of wines that have arrived stateside: their purity and intensity are striking, at every level. I openly confess that their pricing is amazingly inexpensive; these folks overdeliver in a way that the full ‘three-tier’ system never reflected: all of the intermediaries combined earned more on their wine than they did!! They joke with me, “OK then. Next vintage, a 10% price increase!”. With the flagship Giachini wines, I am rendered speechless. They are fantastically complete wines, offering both a captivating immediate sex appeal, and the savory transparency and thrust of great Nebbiolo; Burgundian finesse and purity does indeed come to mind. We share A bottle of the 1990 Giachini over lunch with roasted goat, affirming the longevity and nobility of this small parcel in La Morra: Giachini fruit, still singing bright, with heart achingly beautiful aromas of roses, savory earth, herbs and spices, leather. In the mouth, the wine is perfectly balanced, fresh and bright, the kind of harmony that forces you to listen, awestruck as the flavors sail on and on and on…….Neighbor Elio Altare confesses after savoring some of this 1990: “You do even better work than I do”. Ever humble and demure in his manner, Giuliano shrugs off such flattery, but does not reject Elio’s proposition……
The Giachini Barolo is also a perennial favorite of the most influential American critics as well. Both Steven Tanzer and Antonio Galloni consistently recognize the Corino Giachini among the finest values in cru Barolo, scoring the wine 93 and 94 points virtually every single year. Here’s the list of goodies that i’ve brought in, all at the best prices ON EARTH according to Wine-Searcher Pro, with some of their reviews:
2010 Barbera D’Alba $16 – Laden with abundant floral and spice aromas and flavors, this is just lovely; aged for 3 months in 3-4 year old wood, and 9 months in stainless steel. “fresh red berries, flowers and mint in a vinous, silky expression of the year”. -Galloni
2010 Langhe Nebbiolo $20 – A delicious intro to Nebbiolo, this is essentially young vine Barolo (less than 13 years old), aged 100% in stainless steel. Classic varietal character plus a kiss mineral, delivered on an silky and elegant frame. Stunning value…..
2009 Barbera D’Alba Ciabot du Re $29 – This a cuvee that has rarely if ever been brought into the US. It is a single SE facing parcel surrounding the former ‘Stable of the King’. 100% Barbera aged 50% in barrique that is simply stunning. Fans of Altare’s Larigi wine should check out this bottling, from a strong vintage for Barbera. The only time that it was reviewed was by Tanzer in 2007, the single highest rated Barbera of the vintage….this is a luxury wine in all but price…
2006 Barolo Giachini 94 Galloni 93 Tanzer $45 – Here’s the review from the Wine Advocate’s Antonio Galloni:
“A beguiling, deep bouquet melds seamlessly into dark cherries, menthol and spices as the 2006 Barolo Giachini flows onto the palate. This shows gorgeous detail and delineation, with additional layers of textural richness from the well-integrated French oak. A superbly elegant and beautifully crafted wine, the 2006 Barolo Giachini is a terrific effort from one of La Morra’s top sites.” 94 points
2007 Barolo Giachini 94 Galloni 94 Tanzer $45 – Here’s the review from Steven Tanzer:
“Good bright, deep red with ruby highlights. Lively aromas of black cherry, menthol, minerals and violet. Sweet, supple and seamless, with lovely inner-mouth freshness and lift for the vintage. Juicy blackberry, redcurrant and mineral flavors carry through to the lively, very persistent finish. ” 94 points
2006 Barolo Vecchie Vigne 95 Tanzer $99 in 750 $499 per 6pk $199 in Magnum – Here’s the Tanzer review:
“Bright dark red. Classic Barolo aromas of red cherry, dried rose and minerals, plus a whiff of chocolate. Wonderfully pristine and aromatic in the mouth, with lovely inner-mouth perfume to the cherry and brown spice flavors. Firm, ripe tannins reach the front teeth on the extremely long aftertaste. A very intense and elegant midweight with the structure for a long life in bottle. Corino ages this wine in a high percentage of new barriques, but I never would have guessed that from this beauty.” 95 points
After tasting about eight different vintages of the base Giachini bottling, I can safely say that it may be the single greatest quality/price cru Barolo that i’ve encountered. Its versatility for both young and mature enjoyment is unparalleled. The Vecchie Vigne bottling, from the oldest vines in the Giachini vineyard, is profound; a few collector friends have told me how impeccably it ages, as they enjoy 96s that are still singin’ in stride.
Giuliano is indeed moving from strength to strength, with all wines performing at the top of their class. If you’d like to check out anything from the range, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or orders.
Cheers to the labor of love of the Corino family, and to the health of you and yours!!!