Visiting Pio Cesare was an exciting morning: there was little driving to do because as luck would have it, the company’s cantina is right in the middle of Alba town. here one walks to via Cesare Balbo, starting out from Piazza Savona.
Now there are larger towns in the province of Cuneo, such as Asti and Alessandria, but is the largest town in which the surrounds have the sacred grape nebbiolo growing.
So Alba has been the cradle of Barolo and Barbaresco producers since the 1880s, and the only cantina left within the centro which I have discovered, inside the original town fortifications is Pio Cesare.
Pruotto also previously operated close to the centro but moved to the town’s outskirts in the 70s.
Vineyards are owned in the major top-notch vineyard sites; Barolo and Barbaresco, and the grapes literally come “in the back door”-the rear of the property in this narrow-streeted town, has a different level which allows easier delivery, as well as wine shipping elsewhere on the globe; including Australia.
“If you come down below our guest entry plaza, you can see our storage cellars built onto and above the original roman wall, circa 50 BC” says our host, family member Cesare Benvenuto. Which we promptly witnessed.
Most of the cavernous sites were housing the larger oak sizes (French oak not Slovenian) associated with Piemonte wine. However Pio Cesare wines contain small amounts of newer oak, and I saw barriques and hogsheads from Seguin Moreau, Vicard, Randonnet and Adour. The storage levels are actually below the water table.
Pio Cesare in many ways is all about tradition yet the wines are modern, outward and wine ranging to encompass the entire depth of Piedmontese winemaking. Such as arneis (not grown in Roero but Barolo and Barbaresco villages), cortese, chardonnay (from Treiso in Barbaresco similar to Gaja), and in reds, freisa, grignolino, dolcetto, barbera and nebbiolo.
Pio Cesare Barbaresco 2006 (93), 14%, USD 60, is a family vineyard collections from Treiso, cherry with brown edges, traditional oak-aged nose, has perfume, oak cedar, tar, lots of honey, the mouth sweetens with roasted nuts, more honey tones, dried herbs then a long silken tail. Drinks well today.
There is also a single vineyard Barbaresco “Il Bricco”.
Pio Cesare Barolo 2006 (95), 14.5%, USD 60, is again a family collection from Serrulunga d’Alba, Grinzane Cavour, La Morra and Novello in Barolo, showing some sweeter new oak nuances though essentially a big-nosed traditional Barolo, lots of oak and honey on the palate too, and elegant softness.
There is also a single vineyard Barolo “Ornato”.
Pio Cesare’s label keep to tradition: since their “recent” inception in 1916, the coat of arms of Alba town is included, a rare acknowledgement by the town authorities, remaining to this day.
Pio Boffa currently runs the company. The family continually run the names Pio or Cesare through each coming generation so that the original founder’s “Cesare Pio” words are never lost.
A beaut place to visit with a very happy outlook on Alba wine, life and the trade of sending wine to international destinations with the minimum of fuss-Italianesqueness!
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