The Pio Cesare winery was founded in 1881 by Cesare Pio. He was one of the very first wine producers to believe in the great potential and quality of Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera and in the...Read More
Founded by a pioneering entrepreneur by the name of Cesare Pio in 1881, the Pio Cesare winery has produced wines with international acclaim over the course of five generations. This was one of the first producers in Piedmont to enhance its range with single-vineyard bottlings and to opt for low intervention winemaking with naturally low yields. Today, the family owns 173 acres of vines, scattered among the most celebrated winegrowing areas of Piedmont, the “cru” vineyards designated DOCG in Barolo and Barbaresco.
The region’s star flagship grape, Nebbiolo, along with other local varietals, are vinified in the estate’s 18th century winery and transformed into a stunning collection of red and white wines with terroir and tradition at their core. These are wines that shine brightest on your dinner table, paired with bold and rustic dishes shared in good company.
The story of Pio Cesare begins in 1881, when the company was first established by a very successful entrepreneur by the name of Cesare Pio. His idea was to produce a limited production of wines from the Barolo and Barbaresco regions for himself, his friends, his family and a few customers. Eventually, Cesare’s passion project grew into a thriving business, and the founder travelled all over Europe to promote his wines. At the turn of the century, his son Giuseppe Pio took over the winery and continued in his father’s footsteps. Giuseppe expanded the cellars and invested substantially in trade, transforming the company as a benchmark for quality in the Piedmont region. Giuseppe would pass the business on to his only child, Rosy Pio and her husband Giuseppe Boffa, who left his engineering job in Milan during World War II to dedicate himself fully to the winery.
Rosy and Giuseppe decided to name the youngest of their three children Pio Boffa with the surname of his great-grandfather’s and founder of the winery. Representing the fourth generation at the winery, Pio also invited his cousin Augusto, his sister’s son Cesare Benvenuto and his daughter Federica Rosy to join the family business. Like his great-grandfather Pio travelled the world, honing his skill in various wineries, including the Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley during the 1970’s.
Upon returning to Piedmont, Pio introduced the idea of single-vineyard bottlings, creating the winery’s very first, named Barolo Ornato. Since then, the winery has grown its collection of single-vineyard wines to include the Barolo Mosconi, Barbaresco Il Bricco, Fides Bareba d’Alba and Chardonnay Piodilei. Pio was also known for his “eccentric” and eclectic blends, such as the Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir blend Il Nebbio. Tragically, Pio Boffo passed away at the age of 66 in April 2021 after a two-week hospitalization due to Covid-19.
Today, the winery is run by the rest of the family, Boffa’s nephew Cesare Benvenuto and daughter Federica. The year 2021 marked the 140th anniversary of an estate that has led the way in the production of high-quality Barolo and Barbaresco wines.
Today, the Boffa-Cesare family owns around 173 acres (70 hectares) of vineyards, scattered among the most highly-rated winegrowing areas in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. These vineyard locations were selected with great care, in the spirit of blending the different characteristics of each site to produce the most complex and representative Barolo and Barbaresco wines. Nevertheless, many of these sites are used to produce fruit for single-vineyard bottlings, which put greater emphasis on a single terroir.
In the Barolo appellation, the family own 78.53 acres of vineyards, of which 51.13 acres are planted with the region’s flagship red grape variety, Nebbiolo. These vineyards are scattered among the various cru areas of Barolo (Serralunga d’Alba, Monforte d’Alba, La Morra, Grinzane Cavour, Novello), producing a diverse range of Barolo styles.
In Barbaresco, Pio Cesare cultivates 66.47 acres of vineyards, of which 34.69 acres are planted to Nebbiolo. The five vineyards are split between Treiso and San Rocco Seno d’Elvio.
The estate owns 25.58 acres more outside of the borders of these two famous Piedmont appellations, where the team plants Langhe Nebbiolo, Barbera d’Alba, Langhe Rosso and even some white grape varieties. The estate also sources fruit from a handful or trusted local winegrowers in the area.
Out in the vineyards, the team relies on a minimal intervention approach to viticulture and an elimination of chemical treatments. The yields are naturally restrained with green harvesting, trimming the clusters before the harvest and putting quality strictly before quantity. The ripening of the fruit is monitored with great care and the grapes are selected by hand each time. The vineyard workers are hired on a full-time basis and they rest through the entire vegetative cycle rather than just for the harvest season. This allows the team to gain a deeper understanding of the land and the vines.
The Pio Cesare cellar is an ancient structure situated in the historical center of the picturesque town of Alba. The building was originally constructed in the 18th century and is surrounded by ancient Pompeii Roman walls dating back to 50 BCE. The cellar is divided into four levels, the lowest of which is situated even lower than the nearby Tanaro River. The consistently cool temperature and natural humidity of this space create the perfect environment in which to store and age the wines of the estate.
The hand-harvested grapes arrive at the winery, where they are fermented in a variety of vessel types, depending on the desired style. The Pio Cesare Barolo and Barolo Mosconi, for example, are fermented in stainless steel with around 25-30 days of maceration and then aged mostly in large French oak botti for around 30 months. Whites like the Pio Cesare Gavi DOCG are fermented and aged in stainless steel.
The family has invested significantly in renovations to the cellars, adding a new fermentation room with an area dedicated to racking by gravity, as well as a new barrel aging room 12 meters under the existing building. While the specific winemaking techniques are adjusted to each parcel and bottling, the team has been known to prefer shorter maceration periods and plot-by-plot fermentation. Plenty of attention is paid to the barrels and large oak casks used for aging.
Today, the Pio Cesare winery produces five different lines of wines. Among these are those called the timeless expressions of Nebbiolo, which blend fruit from various parcels to produce a flagship Barolo DOCG, Barbaresco DOCG and Nebbiolo DOCG. The single-vineyard selection includes three DOCG Barolo wines, a DOC Barbera d’Alba Superiore and a Langhe DOC Chardonnay.
Additionally, the family produces a DOC Barbera d’Alba, DOC Dolcetto d’Alba, DOC Grignolino del Monferrato Casalese, DOCG Gavi and DOCG Moscato d’Asti. Their more experimental wines include their Langhe DOC Rosy rosé, their Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc blend L’Altro, their Il Nebbio (with Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir) and Oltre, which blends Nebbiolo, Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. The winery also produces a vermouth and a Barolo Chinato.
Their classic Barolo shows excellent structure, along with a certain harmony and elegance. This is an approachable wine, which will also age beautifully for many more years to come. The Pio Cesare Barolo Mosconi, produced in very small quantities, is a wine with ripe and supple fruit and soft tannins. Open now or age for a decade more. And their Gavi DOCG is a classic Cortese white wine with fresh, complex and spicy aromas of ripe fruit. This wine will also age beautifully.