Giacosa’s 1996 Barbaresco Santo Stefano is a picture-perfect example of the year. Still austere and somewhat compact, I imagine the 1996 will never be an especially forthcoming wine. Even so, the 1996 possesses a super-classic profile of sweet red cherry, pomegranate and rose petal, with a kick of white pepper that adds aromatic intrigue and lift. Readers who appreciate the clenched, old school style typical of this vintage will find plenty of those qualities here. Longevity will be determined by the quality of the corks and storage, as the wine itself is pretty much eternal. As it often does, the 1996 Santo Stefano evokes memories of Giacosa’s brilliant 1970s and 1980s wines. (AG)
Unmistakably traditional Piedmont--in the best sense--this Italian red offers pleasure all around. There's some mocha blended with chestnut, full-throttle, supersweet and ripe black fruit, a full mouthfeel, plus a grip of refined but muscular tannins for the decade or two ahead. *Cellar Selection* (PM)
The newly-released 1996 Barbaresco Santo Stefano is spectacular. The tight, youthful 1996 requires 3-4 more years of bottle age. The color is a dark ruby/garnet. The bouquet is just beginning to open, revealing scents of dried Provencal herbs, cherry liqueur, tobacco, spice box, and white truffles. In the mouth, the wine is stunningly concentrated, extremely full-bodied, with high tannin, and fabulously pure, sweet, cherry cough syrup-like, licorice, smoke, and dried herb flavors. The finish lasts for over 45 seconds although this 1996 is still young and tight. It should enjoy a glorious evolution. Anticipated maturity: 2006-2030. (RP)
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