~ Villa Pio Cesare ~
Stalwart. Venerable.  Iconic.  Choose among them or choose them all and you can describe the treasure that is the Pio Cesare estate in Piemonte.  A little over a year ago,  I wrote about the winery, and it’s 4th generation owner Pio Boffa in an extended feature that offered some insight into the winery and the man behind it.  
Pio Cesare founded his winery in 1881. Today his vision has grown to include ownership of over 100 acres of ideal vineyards in both the Barolo and Barbaresco zones. Fourth generation proprietor Pio Boffa, the great grandson of Pio Cesare, continues to lead the family charge with an approach to winemaking founded on minimal intervention. This ceaseless devotion to the individuality of each vineyard and the wines borne from them, is reflected in choices made in the cellar and evident in the finished wines. 
Today’s subject wine is one that I have cellared for almost 10 years.  In looking back at my report from last year,  you can read about young wines.  You can refer to the fact that relative to many Barolo and Barbaresco, Pio Cesare’s wines are not expensive. They are widely available.  I challenge you to set some in your cellar so that you may someday enjoy what I’ll attempt to describe below; the maturation of a wine and its transcendence from beverage to experience.

~ Aging Cellars at Pio Cesare ~

The 1998 Pio Cesare Barolo is a young 18 years of age.  Yes, young.  The virtue here, however, is that the wine is absolutely singing.  This is humming along, like a finely tuned Maserati engine that has but 20,000 miles on it.  Broken in, but with years of life ahead.  We took the bottle to a local Trattoria recently and from the time it was decanted it simply exploded with life. 
In the glass, the wine is a deep garnet that trends ever so faintly to brick and ruby at the rim.  It looks young, but is Nebbiolo after all.  The aromas are intense and persistent.  Dried flowers, cherry and strawberry, leather, spices, and tobacco combine in seamless harmony – yet each is discernible with careful attention. It is simply a joy to smell. 
On the palate the wine is full bodied, with nary an aggressive tannin in sight.  Loads of ripe wild cherry and berry fruit fan across the palate. In a way, the wine still tastes primary.  However, on the back end and on the finish, complexities emerge.  Cured meat, fennel, dusty minerals and peppery spices are wonderfully integrated and interesting.   This is delicious, delicious wine.  In fact, it was so good, I cannot remember what I had for dinner!  95 points, about $45 upon release. Recent vintages sell for approximately $45-$55 depending upon location.

~ Check out the young color on this 18 year old Barolo ~
Pio Cesare sources the fruit for his Barolo from his vineyards throughout the zone and the wine is aged in a combination of used barrique and large cask that he feels yields a balanced wine.  His quote from my interview sticks with me:
We don’t try to be traditional or modern. I try to reflect the nature of our vineyards. I don’t want to mask the terroir of Barolo or Barbaresco because then you have a generic wine. Barolo must taste like it comes from Piemonte. I’m not interested in making wine that tastes like anywhere else in the world. Our wines are aged in barrique and botte combinations. We want balance and harmony.
I find no fault in that statement or philosophy.  I find no fault in the 1998 Barolo.  The wine has plenty of life ahead of it.  If you’ve got some, try one now – but do decant as the wine threw a rather large sediment.


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