Pio Cesare Finishes the Year with a Big Bang!

Pio Boffa with Grailey's wine-blogger AJ McClellan

In the December 2010/#192 issue of the Wine Advocate, Antonio Galloni gave the Pio Cesare Barolo 2006, 94 points!

“This is a magnificent, impeccable Barolo from Pio Cesare, but it will be even better in a few years.”

“..super-classic profile..”

“..Barolo impresses for its superb balance and poise”

Please see the complete reviews and tasting notes for Pio Cesare wines below.

Congratulations Pio Cesare, we’ll be filling up the shelves with your fine wines for many more years!

The Blend editor, Alfonso Cevola, stocking shelves during a busy holiday season

2007  Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba Fides

Review by : WA # , #192 (Dec 2010)

Rating: 91+

Drink 2012 – 2017

Cost: $17-$23

The 2007 Barbera d’Alba Fides is one of the best versions of this wine I can remember tasting. It is also unusually closed and tight for the vintage, but over time layers of ripe, perfumed fruit emerge with superb clarity and precision. The Fides reveals gorgeous persistence on the palate and terrific overall balance. Ideally it is best opened in advance or given another year or two in bottle, either of which will help soften the tannins. Readers should expect a fairly buttoned up, precise glass of Barbera. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2017. Importer: Maisons Marques & Domaines USA, Inc., Oakland, CA; tel. (510) 587-2000

2006  Pio Cesare Barbaresco

Review by : WA # , #192 (Dec 2010)

Rating: 91

Drink 2012 – 2022

Cost: $60-$120

The 2006 Barbaresco is an attractive, mid-weight wine. Red berries, sweet spices and crushed flowers are some of the nuances that emerge from this plump, juicy Barbaresco. With a little air, this is already drinking quite nicely. Sweet notes from new oak linger on the pretty finish. The Barbaresco is aged in a combination of 65% cask and 35% smaller French oak barrels. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2022. Importer: Maisons Marques & Domaines USA, Inc., Oakland, CA; tel. (510) 587-2000

2006  Pio Cesare Barbaresco Il Bricco

Review by : WA # , #192 (Dec 2010)

Rating: 88

Drink 2012 – 2021

Cost: $109

The single-vineyard 2006 Barbaresco Il Bricco is the only wine in this lineup that is disappointing. It looks like the vintage did not give the estate the quality of fruit needed to stand up to the oak aging regime, as the Bricco essentially smells and tastes like sweet French oak. Further bottle age is unlikely to make a positive difference, if anything the oak will become more accentuated as the little fruit that is present begins to melt away. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2021. Importer: Maisons Marques & Domaines USA, Inc., Oakland, CA; tel. (510) 587-2000

2006  Pio Cesare Barolo

Review by : WA # , #192 (Dec 2010)

Rating: 94

Drink 2016 – 2031

Cost: $48-$75

The 2006 Barolo offers up a super-classic profile of tar, roses, raspberries and licorice, all wrapped around a firm core of tannins. Fresh and vibrant throughout, the Barolo impresses for its superb balance and poise. Deceptively medium in body, the wine sneaks up on the mid-palate, gaining more and more volume through to the finish. There is the subtlest hint of French oak that points to the slightly updated style the estate is going for with this bottling, but not enough to detract from the classic feel. This is a magnificent, impeccable Barolo from Pio Cesare, but it will be even better in a few years. The estate’s Barolo is made from a number of vineyards in Serralunga, Grinzane Cavour, La Morra, Novello and other villages. The wine is aged mostly in cask, although 30% sees French oak. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2031. Importer: Maisons Marques & Domaines USA, Inc., Oakland, CA; tel. (510) 587-2000

2006  Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato

Review by : WA # , #192 (Dec 2010)

Rating: 94

Drink 2016 – 2031

Cost: $109

The estate’s 2006 Barolo Ornato expresses the power and masculinity of Serralunga in a rich, opulent style packed with dark fruit. The Ornato shows marvelous concentration and vibrancy, with added layers of dimension from the French oak. It is a fascinating wine to contrast with the straight Barolo, as each of these 2006s reveals a different shade of nuance. There is a marvelous intensity to the fruit, along with substantial grip on the finish. Menthol, tar and smoke are some of the notes that remain on the close. The Ornato is aged in a mix of 70% cask and 30% French oak barrique. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2031. Importer: Maisons Marques & Domaines USA, Inc., Oakland, CA; tel. (510) 587-2000

New Releases from Piedmont (Notes by Antonio Galloni)

2007 Barbaresco

Vintage 2007 will be remembered for a freakish set of weather conditions that have never been seen before. The winter was unusually warm and dry, with virtually no precipitation, a stark contrast to the norm in these parts. To be sure, rain and snow during the winter have been in decline in Piedmont for more than two decades, but 2007 was unusually dry, even by modern-day standards. Flowering took place a full month ahead of schedule. The spring and summer were warmer than normal, but without the heat spikes of truly hot years such as 2003. Temperatures moderated towards the end of the growing season, slowing down maturation and allowing the plants to gain additional time on the vine. Most growers harvested a few weeks early, but not as early as originally expected. Essentially the entire growing season was moved up in the calendar, but the cycle from flowering to harvest turned out to be close to normal. These conditions resulted in wines that combine elements of warm and cool vintages to an extent I have never seen previously. The 2007 Barbareschi possess dazzling aromatics, silky tannins and generous, at times explosive, fruit. Although 2007 was a warm year, temperatures were stable throughout most of the summer, which allowed for full ripening, even in less well-exposed vineyards. As a result, many entry-level Barbareschi are unusually delicious. In particular the straight Barbareschi from Cantina del Pino, Castello di Neive and Bruno Rocca are all exceptional. One of the defining characteristics of the vintage is that the differences from vineyard to vineyard are more attenuated in 2007 than they were in more typical, cooler years such as 2001, 2004 and 2005. A number of wines from the south-facing vineyards that usually perform best are a touch overdone. Two thousand seven is a year in which the personality of the vintage dominates the wines more than any single element, followed by house style and then vineyard. A perfect example is found at Produttori del Barbaresco, where the Riservas are very strongly marked by the vintage. The nine single-vineyard Riservas are different, but not as distinctive and transparent to site as they were in 2004 and 2005. Of course, those wines have another year in barrel ahead of them, so time will ultimately tell how they turn out. In general the 2007s are flashy, opulent wines that will drink well right out of the gate and that have the potential to continue to evolve for at least another decade-plus.

Savvy readers will note the increase in single-vineyard designate wines in Barbaresco, which is the result of a long study into the region’s vineyards and microclimates. In today’s world the updating of vineyard boundaries is a highly politicized effort that requires considerable compromise. I am not sure if all of the new wines from Barbaresco’s updated sottozone (sub-zones)are worthy of being bottled separately, but only time will tell. For more on Barbaresco’s 2007 vintage, including reviews on wines I tasted last year from Bruno Giacosa and Angelo Gaja, check Issue 187. Readers may also want to consult www.erobertparker,com for my preview tasting of the 2007 Baroli to be held in New York in March 2011.

More on 2006 Barolo

I continue to be impressed with the 2006 Baroli. Over the summer and fall I tasted and re-tasted a number of wines that seem to be gaining depth and volume in the bottle. The 2006 Baroli are powerful and tannic today, and most of the top examples will require considerable cellaring. Quality is perhaps a touch more producer-specific and localized than it was in either 2001 or 2004, but the finest bottles are truly exceptional. There is no question that overall 2006 is much stronger in Barolo than Barbaresco. For more on the 2006 vintage in Barolo, readers should take a look at my article in Issue 187.

New Dolcetto and Barbera Releases

The current vintage for Dolcetto, 2009, yielded a number of attractive, fleshy wines well worth considering. It is a very good year for the entry-level Piedmontese red wine that never seems to get the attention it deserves. The best Dolcetti show plenty of regional and vineyard character, they just need a little more love from the trade and consumers. The 2008 vintage for Barbera yielded a crop of mid-weight, linear wines. This isn’t a great vintage for Barbera, so readers need to be especially selective. Still, the finest 2008s offer gorgeous, mineral-laced fruit and fabulous overall balance in a style that will appeal to readers who may have found the 2007s too opulent and rich.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how surprised I was when I came across a handful of entry-level Dolcetti and Barbere from well-known producers that had serious technical flaws. I hope these wines are isolated cases rather than an emerging trend. I can imagine that the temptation might exist for producers to pay less attention to their entry-level wines given their relatively modest cost and the uncertain economic environment, but this is hardly the time to become complacent. If anything, this is a time when quality across the entire range counts more than ever. Of course, consistency is standard operating procedure for the region’s elite producers, but there is ample room for improvement at many properties.

—Antonio Galloni

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