The first wine – the Pio Cesare Gavi DOC 2016 – piqued our interest in what was to follow. It was fresh, aromatic with a round finish. It was the only white wine in “An Afternoon with Mr Pio Boffa” at Topshelf last week, where this distinguished Italian winemaker proudly presented Barolo and Barbaresco wines from the Pio Cesare wine estate in Alba, Italy.
“The Gavi is the only wine not produced by us but the grapes are grown according to our standards,” said Pio Boffa, as the wine was poured for the Torched Fine Oyster, Grilled Scampi and Snapper Ceviche. Pio Cesare’s vineyards cover 75 hectares in the most highly rated and better exposed areas in Alba and surrounding communes. Growers in neighbouring vineyards have also been selling grapes to the family for generations.
Pio Boffa, 64, is the fourth generation of Pio Cesare who founded the winery in 1881. “We have been producing wines for 2,000 years, even during the Roman Empire. Our cellars are built on the old city’s ancient Roman walls. We are close to some of the best wineries in Europe, with Burgundy to the north west.” The microclimate, terroir and hillside exposures of the vineyards have produced some of the best Barolo and Barbaresco appellations. “All the hills are very steep and together with the dry climate and low yield, our Piemonte wines have lots of character.”
The wine estate produces a limited number of bottles of Barbaresco and Barolo, and 85% of them are exported. Pio Boffa supervises every stage of the winemaking, from the pruning to controlling the traditional style and quality of the wines.
Back at Topshelf, we had our first Barbaresco DOCG 2013 and the Il Bricco Barbaresco DOCG 2012, paired with a delicious, juicy Roast Lamb Loin, Tempura Kimchi & Brie, Leeks & Wine Jus.
The Barbaresco DOCG 2014 is an elegant wine with ripe, spicy fruit and mild, soft tannins. It has depth and complexity, as well as aging potential. It complemented the lamb and the wonderful brie tempura that tumbled a kimchi surprise on our palate.
“Il Bricco Barbaresco comes from our best vineyard, from the tallest point in our estate, from two different plots only. It reflects the different types of terroir of the region. It’s the most traditional Barbaresco, made according to a recipe my great grandpa used from a single vineyard, and we are still using for the past 137 years.”
Tradition works brilliantly in this wine which oozes purity of fruit and displaying finesse, elegance and longevity. Softer tannins result from long masceration on skins for 45 days and punched down before 24 months in oak. Only 5,000 bottles are produced every year.
While Barbaresco is considered the queen, Barolo reigns as the king of wines in Piemonte. Complexity and depth distinguish this wine. The Barolo DOCG 2013 is produced with grapes from multi single vineyards in seven different locations. It’s a classic Barolo with excellent structure, mild tannins and balanced fruit. It’s harmony in the mouth as we drink it with the Pan Roasted Duck with Pumpkin Puree and Grilled Eringi Mushroom.
Grapes from a single vineyard in three locations, including a Grand Cru location, define the Ornato Barolo DOCG 2012. The same length of masceration on skins as for the Barbaresco, this Barolo spends a longer time – 30 months – in oak. It’s a very rich, dense Barolo, full of ripe, concentrated fruit. Elegant and powerful, it has a long ageing potential. So we had actually drunk it rather young.
No matter, as we had tasted some of the best Barbaresco and Barolo from Pio Cesare, and lunch ended with the exquisite Chocolate Cremeux, Salted Meringue and Poached Berries.
Pio Boffa joined the family winery as a youth, even before he went to university. He visited the most important wineries in California and France to learn from them. He worked for three months during the harvest for the Robert Mondavi winery, side by side with the winemaker’s sons.
While he has introduced the most modern technology to the winery, he has kept the style of his wines as close as possible to that of his father and grandfather.
For more information, visit www.piocesare.it. The wines are distributed by Asiaeuro Wines & Spirits Sdn Bhd.