domingo, 3 de marzo de 2013

Pio Cesare Barolo DOCG, Pio Cesare 2008


- Winery: This historic family-owned estate is named after its founder Cesare Pio, who established the business in 1881. It is based in Alba in the heart of the Piemonte region, nestled between the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea. The surrounding hills provide a handful of ideal exposures for grape growing with unique micro-climates. The confluence of cold Alpine air with warm maritime moisture regularly creates a misty glow, or ‘nebbia’, over these foothills, hence Nebbiolo, the great red variety of the region. 100% Nebbiolo from family-owned vineyards in Serralunga d’Alba (Ornato), Grinzane Cavour (Gustava), La Morra (Roncaglie), Barolo-Novello(Ravera). The Balance of the grapes comes from other exclusive vineyards owned by other growers who have been providing grapes to the Pio Family for generations. The wine is vinified in stainless stell tanks, 30 days skin contact, prior to being aged in mid-toasted French oak for 3 years: 70% in 20 to 50 hectoliters casks; 30% in barriques. A classic Barolo. Excellent structure and harmony, mild tannins and balanced fruit. It is immediately approachable, but it has a very long ageing potential.

- Reviews: "Moderately saturated medium red. Red cherry, marzipan, minerals and underbrush on the nose; perfumed... Finishes with dusty, serious tannins, a savory chewy quality, and lingering notes of red cherry and camphor. Like the Barbaresco, this displays the energy of the vintage's better examples." 90-92 points, International Wine Cellar - Stephen Tanzer - November 2011

"Pio Cesare is on a roll producing vintage after vintage of excellent Barolo. This 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." 94 Points Cellar Selection, Wine Enthusiast - Monica Larner - September 2012

- Price: £40


Nebbiolo is a black-skinned red wine grape variety most famous for creating the 'tar and roses' scent of Barolo wines from Piedmont, north-western Italy. The grape's very name is evocative of its home among the misty foothills of the western Alps; the nebbia (Italian for 'fog') after which it is named frequently arrives on early October mornings, when the Nebbiolo harvest is in full swing.

Most strains of Nebbiolo demonstrate a good resistance to botrYtis and although early forms of Barolo were made in a sweet style, this was due to struggling ferments rather than the effects of botrytis. Unfortunately the vine showed little or no resistance to phylloxera when the louse spread its devastation across Europe in the 1860s, and when it came to replanting Piedmontese vineyards, the higher-yielding Barbera became the preferred variety.

Nebbiolo grapes are central to four Piedmontese DOCGs and eight DOCs, of which Barolo is by far the most famous - Barolo wines are renowned for their power and intensity. However, just ten miles northeast of Barolo, Nebbiolo is made into Barbaresco, a slightly more elegant, perfumed style which rose to prominence in the second half of the 20th Century. Barbaresco lies only a little lower in the hills than Barolo, with which it shares its chalky clay soils, yet the wines are noticeably different.

In Roero, an area just across the river Tanaro, northwest of Alba, Nebbiolo is often joined by a splash of white Arneis to soften its tannic edges, a practice which has led the Ameis variety to be dubbed Barolo Bianco.

Slightly different again are the red wines of Valtellina, where the variety is known as Chiavennasca. These wines from the sunny alpine slopes of northern Lombardy may be less rich and round than those from Piedmont, but they are just as alluringly perfumed, particularly the passito. Amarone-styled Sforzato di Valtellina. What all of these wines have in common are noticeable acidity and the tannins for which Nebbiolo is as famous as it is infamous.

This sensitivity to terroir is both Nebbiolo's trump card and its downfall. As demonstrated by Pinot Noir. Riesling and (less famously) Chasselas. wine enthusiasts find themselves immediately attracted to a variety which communicates its provenance. But while Riesling and (to a lesser extent) Pinot Noir have proven relatively adaptable to various climates and soils types, Nebbiolo has not. It is famously picky about where it grows, requiring good drainage and as long a growing season as is possible in sub-alpine Italy. In Piedmont it is generally one of the first vines to flower, and is always the last to ripen, making a dry autumn essential to a successful vintage.

Outside Italy Nebbiolo has had a modicum of success in Australia. Argentina and California, but the warmer climates into which it has often been planted in these places have proved too warm for Nebbiolo. Finding sites in which the variety will thrive is an ongoing challenge for New World winemakers eager to replicate the great Nebbiolo wines of Piedmont.

As of early 2011, Nebbiolo was used in Piedmont as the major component in four DOCGs (Barolo, Barbaresco, Roero and Gattinara) and eight DOCs (Bramaterra, Fara, Ghemme, Lessona and Sizzano).

Popular blends include: Barbera - Nebbiolo.

Synonyms include: Spanna, Picoutener, Chiavennasca.


Barolo is a traditional hillside village in the rolling hills of Piedmont, north-western Italy. The vineyards and cantine (wineries) there have long been famous for producing some of Italy's very finest red wines, predominantly from the region's signature grape variety, Nebbiolo. Fragrant, tannic Barolo wine is so revered that it was one of just three wines awarded DOCG status on the day that the classification was introduced in July, 1980 (the other two were Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano).

The Barolo vineyard zone covers the parishes of Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d'Alba and Barolo itself, and also spreads over into parts of Monforte d'Alba, Novello, La Morra, Verduno, Grinzane Cavour, Diano d'Alba, Cherasco and Roddi. The soils and mesoclimates vary slightly between these communes, creating subtle differences between the wines produced from their vineyards (although it must be remembered that the skills and preferences of the individual winemakers also has significant influence over these differences).

In La Morra and Barolo the soil contains a high concentration of limestone-rich Tortonian marl. The more aromatic, fruitier styles of Barolo typically come from these soil types; La Morra is considered to produce the most perfumed and graceful Barolos, while those from Barolo tend to be a little more complex, and broader-textured.

In Castiglione-Falleto, Serralunga d'Alba and Monforte, the vineyards are planted on looser and less fertile, Helvetian soils, which include both sandstone and limestone. This leads to a brick-colored wine which is more intense, bigger in structure and requires a longer time to age.

Serralunga d'Alba is well structured, long lived and the most tannic of the five, while Castiglione-Falleto is renowned for its full-bodied, rich nature and good balance and aromas. Monforte D'Alba offers rich, concentrated characteristics and a serious intensity.

Despite the differences between the wines from these various terroirs. they all retain the key qualities which define the classic Barolo style; the famous 'tar and roses' aroma, a bright ruby color (which fades to garnet over time), firm tannins, elevated acidity, and relatively high alcohol.

To earn the name Barolo, the wines must undergo at least 38 months' aging prior to commercial release, of which 18 must be spent in barrel (the remainder in bottle). For the added designation of riserva, the total aging time increases to 62 months. As the tannins soften over time, the complexity shows through with hints of earth, truffles and dark chocolate.

Classic Barolos have traditionally required at least ten years cellaring to tame their tannins. Today, however, some producers are moving towards more 'international' styles, with reduced fermentation times (meaning less extraction of color or tannin from the must), and the use of new French barriques in place of the traditional large wooden casks. This has resulted in a fruitier and more accessible style which is approachable at a much earlier stage in its life. Many believe this modernization detracts too severely from the classic character of Barolo. Some go so far as to say it makes the wines 'unrecognizable' as Barolo. The ongoing debate between Barolo's modernists and traditionalist has become known as the 'Barolo wars'.

There are various Barolo vineyards which have achieved a sort of informal 'cru' status, based on the official, structured model used in Burgundy. Esteemed winemaker Renato Ratti played a significant role in this, and created a map outlining the various 'crus': Cannubi, Sarmazza, Brunate, Cerequi, Rocche, Monprivato, Villero, Lazzarito, Vigna Rionda, Bussia, Ginestra and Santo Stefano di Perno.

To the north-east of Barolo, just the other side of Alba, are the vineyards which produce another stellar Nebbiolo wine, Barbaresco.


Piedmont has more DOCG titles (15 as of early 2011) than any other Italian wine region - a statistic which strongly supports its status as Italy's finest wine region. The first Piedmont wine to be granted DOCG status was Barolo, followed just a few months later by its neighbor Barbaresco. Barolo was one of the first DOCG wines in Italy, promoted to this newly created classification on the same day as Tuscany's Brunello di Montalcino, on 1 July 1980.

Barolo and Barbaresco remained alone as Piedmont DOCGs until joined by Gattinara (also a Nebbiolo-based red) in 1990 and the sweet, sparkling whites of Asti (both Moscato d'Asti and Asti Spumante in 1993. Three very different wines earned DOCG badges during the later 1990s: aromatic, sparkling red Brachetto d'Acoui in 1996, Ghemme (a fourth Nebbiolo DOCG) in 1997 and dry white Cortese di Gavi in 1998.

In 2005 even Dolcetto, far from Piedmont's most glamorous grape, was given its own DOCG - Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore (Dogliani for short) - later joined by Dolcetto di Piano d'Alba (Diano d'Alba for short) in August 2010, a week before Erbaluce di Caluso (Caluso for short). It was not until 2008 that wines made from Barbera grapes were recognized as DOCGs, when Barbera d'Asti and Barbera del Monferrato Superiore were elevated to this highest rank of Italian wine classification.

The variety of wine styles included among Piedmont's DOCGs is impressive. Dry, sweet and sparkling styles are all on the list, and each have both red and white representatives. Crowd pleasers such as Moscato are made alongside stubborn, tannic Nebbiolo reds, while familiar varieties such as Barbera hold equal rank with obscurities such as Erbaluce and Ruche.

Piedmont DOCGs are concentrated mostly to the south of Alba and Asti, at the meeting point of the Alps and the Apennines. The majority are found within a few miles of the Tanaro river which bisects Piedmont, leaving only Ghemme and Gattinara (up near Lake Maggiore and the border with Lombardy) to fly the flag for the region's north - though in 2010 they gained an ally in the form of Caluso.

There will no doubt be new additions to the list of Piedmont DOCGs in the coming decade, particularly given Italy's apparent determination to claw backs its share of the world wine market. Thanks to the economic advantages of a DOCG label, there will be no shortage of candidates vying for promotion.

References: farehamwinecellar and wine-searcher

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