The SOMM Journal

June / July 2018

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{ } 57 May, and the steep hillsides of northern Italy's Langhe Hills are blanketed by lush grasses lined by endless rows of budding young vines. Precipitous clouds linger in a feeble attempt to mask the majestic Alps that tower over the lofty estates. Wine is the bloodline of this region, which is home to some of the world's most revered grapes. For hundreds of years, its wines have been praised by aristocracy and world leaders alike, among them Thomas Jefferson. The central city of Alba was once home to many producers here, but today only one winery remains in the ancient historical center of the city: Pio Cesare. Visitors can stumble upon remnants of this history in every corner of the property. The Pio Cesare house was built during medieval times on top of Roman walls dating back to 50 B.C.—reminders of the ancient city that once stood here. The cellar, meanwhile, encompasses an ex - pansive labyrinth of rooms spanning four underground levels, the lowest of which sits beneath the Tanaro river. For more than 135 years, the distinguished wines of Pio Cesare have been made within these hallowed walls. As this history unfolded, the family winemakers passed down their knowledge through each generation to create classical expressions that speak to the soils and traditions of this region. "When my great- grandfather, Cesare Pio, started his mission in 1881, he was one of the first to fully embrace the newly introduced practice of fermenting Nebbiolo grapes from Barbaresco and Barolo completely dry, and all his wines were completely dry," explains Pio Boffa, a fourth-generation vintner who joined his father, Giuseppe Boffa, in manag - ing the winery in 1973. The youngest of three siblings, Pio was the only one who chose to work for the family business. After high school, he spent a harvest at a family friend's winery in California. This friend happened to be Robert Mondavi, and in addition to the experience he gleaned during his time there, Pio also gained a sense of admiration. Pio Cesare wines were well-known by that time, and it made him proud of the brand his father had built. "I came back with a lot of new ideas, because California, at that time, was really ahead of the Old World," he recalls. The winery we know today was built through the steadfast leadership of Pio and his father, but now Pio is prepared to pass the reins to the next genera - The present and future of Pio Cesare from left to right: Federica Rosy Boffa Pio, Pio Boffa, and Cesare Benvenuto Pio. The first Pio Cesare wine was bottled in 1890. The family keeps an extensive library of old bottlings, including some of their first vintages. it's

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