Despite the very long history of wine in Italy, there are not many wineries that can boast a more than century-old life. A small group that fully includes one of the symbolic realities of Barolo, such as Pio Cesare, an icon of the great wines of the Langhe, whose foundations literally rest on the ancient Roman walls of the city of Alba, in whose heart, a unique case , is still fully operational. A winery that has made the history of Barolo and Italian wine, and that is celebrating its 140th anniversary, just a few days after the premature death of those who guided it for years, namely Pio Boffa, “Far-sighted winemaker and tireless ambassador of Barolo and Barbaresco in the world”, to whom the whole world of wine, from every corner of the planet, has dedicated more than a memory and a tribute, testifying to the professional and human caliber of Pio ( here the memory of WineNews, with whom he often shared frank and profound reflections, of great vision, on the world of wine). And now, the reins of the company, which has always been familiar, pass into the hands of the fifth generation, represented by the very young daughter Federica Rosy, 23, and by her nephew Cesare, who has been working alongside Pio for some time, “in the wake of the unique style , rigorous and unmistakable of the company “. And if the wines do not change, following the tradition of Barolo strenuously defended by the family and Pio Boffa, or that of Barolo that comes from the blend of Nebbiolo from several vineyards, the labels of Barolo and Barbaresco of the 140 years of the cellar will be celebrating, including two limited editions that represent the history of the family and the very deep link with the territory.
In the philosophy of Pio Cesare, each wine has its own deep identity and raison d’etre (not only Barolo and Barbaresco, but also the famous Chardonnay Piodilei and more, ed) and at the same time all are linked by a single thread: the territory, to be represented and interpreted with the utmost respect for its many nuances. “Each area, and parcel, has its own character and only through the combination of these multiple differences can we create wines that are truly ours, traditional” says Federica Boffa, recalling her father’s words: “it is our signature”. The vineyards of Pio Cesare, 75 hectares of property purchased patiently since the Seventies, are located in positions of particular value within most municipalities in the Barolo and Barbaresco area in the best areas of the Langhe (Serralunga d’Alba, Grinzane Cavour , La Morra, Novello, Monforte d’Alba and Treiso and San Rocco Seno d’Elvio) and “respecting them in their singularity but representing them as a whole is the mission we have always handed down to us. The labels, designed by the founder, who have always proudly carried the coat of arms of the city of Alba, are immutable, but starting from this year they will have the names “Barolo Pio” and “Barbaresco Pio”, names with which these wines have been called since the sixties of the twentieth century by our loyal public and as we have always called them in the family ”continues Federica Boffa, who, at 23, has very clear ideas about home traditions. “To underline the details of the anniversary, the double digit 1881-2021 will be shown on the Barolo Pio label and on the capsules of all our wines”.
For the 140th anniversary, two very small “editions” have also been created, two collectible wines, which will be released in June: the new Barolo from the Municipality of Serralunga d’Alba, vintage 2017, and the Barolo Riserva 2000. “We have decided to pay tribute to our historical attachment to the Serralunga d’Alba terroir and produce in limited quantities only and exclusively on our anniversary, and we will hardly do it again, a Barolo coming from a small part of each of the 4 family properties in that Municipality, Ornato, La Briccolina, La Serra and Lirano, which are reproduced on the label through a multicolored tetrahedron. It is a very limited edition of which we have numbered 1881 bottles in memory of the year of our foundation ”says Cesare Benvenuto Pio, who, since 2000, had been working alongside his uncle Pio Boffa in the company. For Pio Cesare it is like going back to the origins in a municipality that has always represented the essential starting point for producing Barolo Pio, of great complexity, structure and longevity. The Barolo Riserva 2000 is an even more limited edition: only 500 copies are also numbered. Pio Boffa’s idea was to “pay homage to Barolo, its longevity and family tradition”. Each year, in fact, the company sets aside a small quantity of bottles in the most protected and secret area of the cellar. With the age of 140 Pio Boffa had decided to release 500 bottles of the great 2000 vintage, the one between the two centuries, which marked the beginning of a series of extraordinary vintages in the Langa. “And so it will be” continues Cesare Benvenuto Pio. “Today, even more so, it is a true affective release. The key that kept the bottles, jealously protected first by Nonna Rosy and then by Pio, is reproduced on the label ”. Barolo Riserva 2000 is the first edition to come out of this precious family library, but Pio Cesare does not rule out that it is the beginning of a series of exclusive issues. “The choice to focus on the Barolo that most represents the family philosophy, and not on a cru, was natural” concludes Federica “and stems from the desire to privilege the style imprinted by the founder which for us is and will always be our style. “.
Focus – The historical stages of Pio Cesare, in the hands of the Boffa family
140 years, 5 generations, 75 hectares of vineyards and a handful of dates that have marked the history of this company capable of making the ancient tradition of the Langhe contemporary. In 1881 Cesare Pio founded the company which is still based in the same historic building in the center of the city of Alba. He sensed the potential of Langhe wine at an international level and was among the first to bring it to the world. He is responsible for the iconic label that still features the medals won in the late 19th and early 20th century exhibitions. Two generations later, Rosy Pio and her husband Giuseppe Boffa will give new impetus to Pio Cesare, making their Barolo a reference in the Italian wine scene. Recent history sees the company in a crescendo of successes and projects: the vineyard grows, the cellar expands, new wines arrive with the entry on the scene of the 4th generation, Pio Boffa.
Meanwhile, the concept of cru emerges and the Ornato vineyard, already essential in the blend of Barolo Pio vineyards, becomes the ground for new studies. In 1985 the company, struck by the personality of three micro-plots located on different slopes of the hill, decided to give them a voice and with a small part of them created, in synergy with the family philosophy, a multi-cru cru, the Ornate Barolo. In the same year, PiodiLei was born, one of the first Chardonnays fermented and aged in small barrels produced in the Langhe and among the first in Italy. In 1990 it was the turn of the Barbaresco Il Bricco, in 1996 the Barbera from a single vineyard, the “Fides”, and then in 2014 with the acquisition of 10 hectares in the Mosconi vineyard, in Monforte d’Alba, another Barolo took shape: the homonymous Mosconi.
The latest new challenge is for the first time outside the Langhe, in the Tortona hills, in the province of Alessandria. Pio Cesare has in fact purchased about 2 and a half hectares in the Timorasso production area fascinated by the aromaticity, the distinct personality and character of this wine when it has many years of aging behind it. All the wines are produced, fermented and aged in the historic cellar, one of the few still operating in the historic center of Alba, dating back to the eighteenth century. It was built on four levels, one of which is even below the aquifer of the Tanaro river. Here, with a perfect and constant temperature and humidity, the most precious wines mature in the shade of the ancient Roman walls, formerly the city walls.
2021, with the tragic and unexpected death of Pio Boffa, sees Federica Boffa Pio, fifth generation, take the helm of the family business, with the mission – starting from this 140th anniversary – to continue consistently towards the future.