Wine, Frankly: Barolo's Pio Cesare

9c9de120-8a68-4f9d-83d2-bdee2a241611These puppies go back quite a while and still drink with a bright freshness that boggles the mind. I’ve tasted many old Barolo over the years and none – including the greats like Gaja, Altare, Clerico, et al – have impressed me more than Pio Cesare.

Piedmont is like Burgundy and its grand crus wines which are a product of terroir, soil, vineyard sites and the specific micro climate of that site. This is the uniqueness of the wines of the region. Burgundy plays the game with different terroirs with only Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and it’s exactly the same in Piemonte. Pio Boffa of Pio Cesare plays the game with Nebbiolo and Barbera, that’s it. He never blends the grapes together, but the wine is never boring because each one carries the style of a specific site.


Pio Cesare owns more than 130 acres of vineyards, located in the most highly rated and better exposed areas. Within the Barolo region, the “Ornato” Estate and the “Colombaro” Vineyard (in Serralunga d’Alba), the “Gustava” Estate (in Grinzane Cavour), the “Roncaglie” (in la Morra) and “Ravera” (in Barolo-Novello). That may not mean much to most of you, but for all you Barolo-geeks I know you’re pretty impressed right now!

“We differ from so many other wineries in the region in that we own and control all of our vineyards, so we maintain the quality from the soil to the bottling.” Pio Boffa’s words are an understatement. The family has been producing wines under the flagship name Pio Cesare since 1881 when his great grandfather first planted vineyards in the legendary rustic hills of Piemonte. Under his leadership, the winery has moved into the area of technological advancement that incorporates the latest modern innovations coupled with sustainable growth practices in the vineyards.


“My father Giuseppe is a man of few words,” Pio Boffa said, his tone lowering with gravitas. “In fact, my father was not one to give compliments lightly except to my mother Rosy. But he told me when tasting my Barolo, ‘Now you are making the wine, using all this technology, that I have been making without for the past 43 years!’ “That is as close to a compliment as he has ever given me,” Boffa said with rye humor.

It goes without saying Pio looks up to his father dearly. “He’s a very special man: my mentor, my teacher, my everything,” he spoke of roles he hopes to emulate for his teenage daughter Federica one day.

40d8f13f-509b-4d26-b9eb-b7200dac95c6It’s all in the family! Pio Boffa’s cousin Gina Pio will be our guest speaker at the 5-course FranksWine Piemonte Game Dinner at Wilmington’s newest go-to hotspot Bistro Jacques this Saturday, January 24th!

Wine Enthusiast – “Pio Cesare is on a roll producing vintage after vintage of excellent Barolo. This 2008 shows enormous intensity and beauty with perfumed layers of pressed flower, wild berry, vanilla and spice. It boasts a dark, bold appearance and tight tannins that are supported by an excellent quality of fruit. Drink after 2018. – Cellar Selection”

Vinous / Antonio Galloni – “The 2009 Barolo fleshes out in the glass nicely. Smoke, tobacco, worn-in leather, spices and menthol all take shape in a broad, large-scaled Barolo endowed with serious depth. Firm yet nicely-integrated tannins support a voluptuous, creamy finish endowed with serious depth. The 2009 can be enjoyed now, but it also has more than enough depth to drink well for the next decade-plus.”

The Wine Advocate / Robert Parker – “The 2010 Barolo is a great fall back wine for those who want to know the flavor profile of a classic, well-made Barolo. This is a textbook wine, especially in the exceptional 2010 vintage. Black fruit and prune is folded together with delicate tones of cigar ash, crushed mineral, licorice, white truffle and dried raspberry. The tannins are firm, but polished and the wine leaves a lasting imprint of dark fruit and cola on the elegant finish. Drink: 2016-2028.”

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About the Contributor

Frank Pagliaro

Frank Pagliaro

Frank Pagliaro has been a Wilmington wine merchant since 1986 – Frank’s Union Wine Mart. He is the Team Host & Chief Wino of the Marathon Team which gets fellow winos and runners together to train for a yearly Fall Marathon while raising money for children’s charities.