This historic family-owned estate is named after its founder Cesare Pio, who established the business in 1881. The winery is based in Alba, in the heart of Piemonte and is now run by Federica Boffa and Cesare Benvenuto, the fifth generation of the family. Pio Cesare developed Barolo’s reputation overseas in the 1950s by being one of the first producers to export the wine to the UK. The founder’s great grandson Pio Boffa was deeply convinced of the importance of cultivating and growing owned land to produce high quality wines and played a key role in the acquisition of vineyards in the same locations where Cesare Pio used to buy his grapes from. Today Pio Cesare owns 80 hectares located in several premium hill-side positions, selected for the exposure, soil composition and microclimate in the Barolo and Barbaresco regions. The wines are made in a style that manages to balance the best of the old with the best of the new. The estate includes most of the municipalities in the Barolo and Barbaresco areas.
The Pio Cesare family owns a total 30 ha in the Barolo region covering 5 different communes: Serralunga d’Alba (Ornato, Serra, Briccolina, Lirano and Colombaro), Monforte d’Alba (Mosconi), Grinzane Cavour (Gustava and Garretti), La Morra (Roncaglie), Novello (Ravera). Ornato, located in the village of Serralunga d’Alba, it was the very first vineyard acquired by 4th generation Pio Boffa, in 1979. The 6.6 ha of vineyard are located at approx. 380 mt above see level with south east, south and south west exposure. Ornato is a large amphitheater, exposed to the sun from early morning to late afternoon. Soil composition: mainly limestone and clay with a small proportion of sand. Average age of the vines: 30 years. Number of plants per hectar: 4800 Yields: 60 tons per ha. Ornato produces wines of great structure, austerity and longevity. Due to the vineyard aspect Ornato is usually the very first vineyard to be harvested. First vintage produced: 1985. Size of production: 10 -13.000 bottles depending on the vintage.
This is a single-vineyard Barolo is made with grapes coming from three selected plots, fermented in stainless steel with skin contact for 30 days and aged in mid-toasted French oak botti for a minimum of 2 years. A a small quantity is aged in barriques for the first 10 months.
The 2016 vintage was defined by favorable weather conditions, with a mild winter and ample snowfall, replenishing the soil’s water reserves. Spring arrived later, leading to a delayed vine vegetative cycle, resembling traditional vintages. Summer brought stable weather, with temperatures rarely exceeding 32°C. Occasional rainstorms ensured adequate soil moisture. This consistent climate led to a regular ripening cycle, concentrating polyphenols and anthocyanins in the grapes. Harvesting began around October 10th, considerably later than in previous hot vintages. Finally, cooler temperatures during harvest further enriched the berries. This ideal climate and timing resulted in wines with depth, concentration, elegance, and exceptional aging potential, showcasing the Nebbiolo grape’s unique character in our magical region.
Very ripe sour cherries dominate the nose, which is perfumed and lifted, with a touch of vanilla beneath the soaring fruit. It’s taut and sleek, with high acidity but no greenness. The tannins are well integrated, so the texture is polished. It’s still tight and undoubtedly complex, with hints of tobacco and coffee. The balance is impeccable and this will go the distance. Although it may be accessible young, this will develop more nuances with further ageing. Long minty finish. (Stephen Brooks, 95 pts)
Serve with red meat dishes, game or seasonal truffle, mature cheeses.
Serve at 16-18°C.
98 points – James Suckling
The blue fruit and freshness are impressive here. At the same time, there’s richness and focus with ripe fruit. Yet, it remains cool and bright. Superb center palate with great fruit and depth, but compact and focused. Needs three or four years to come together. Better after 2021.
97 points – Falstaff
96 points – Wine Advocate, Monica Larner
With fruit from Serralunga d’Alba, the Pio Cesare 2016 Barolo Ornato offers a stunning presentation in this classic vintage. The bouquet shows small berry fruits and cassis, all framed by crushed stone, forest floor, blue flower and candied orange skin. There is a dusty mineral note to this wine as well, with terrific intensity on both the nose and the palate. The Ornato kicks in with finely integrated tannins and acidity that holds all those fruit flavors high and tall. What we have here is a standout Barolo that is staunchly vertical, linear and upfront. Some 10,000 bottles were produced.
95+ points – Vinous, Antonio Galloni
The 2016 Barolo Ornato is a gorgeous wine. Moreover, it very clearly represents a shift towards a more classic style. I think this is the first time I have tasted the real character of Serralunga in Pio Cesare’s Ornato. I don’t mean the rich, oak-laden textures of the past, but the wild herbs, minerals and ferrous notes that are typical of so many wines in this sector of Serralunga. A wine of power and intensity, the Ornato is so impressive in 2016. It will need a few years to soften (at least), but there is plenty to look forward to.
95 points – Decanter, Stephen Brooks
This fine site in Serralunga is elevated at 380 metres, which may explain the wine’s finesse. Very ripe sour cherries dominate the nose, which is perfumed and lifted, with a touch of vanilla beneath the soaring fruit. It’s taut and sleek, with high acidity but no greenness. The tannins are well integrated, so the texture is polished. It’s still tight and undoubtedly complex, with hints of tobacco and coffee. The balance is impeccable and this will go the distance. Although it may be accessible young, this will develop more nuances with further ageing. Long minty finish.
94 points – Wine Specatator, Bruce Sanderson
This is refined and taut, delivering a finely woven matrix of cherry, black currant, tar, iron and oak spice flavors. It’s firm and long, with equilibrium and a lingering aftertaste. Stays vibrant and focused from beginning to end. Best from 2024 through 2045.
94 points – Wine Enthusiast, Kerin O’Keefe
Aromas of rose petal, underbrush, crushed botanical herb and woodland berry mingle with a whiff of hazelnut. On the linear, precise palate, tight fine-grained tannins accompany sour cherry, blood orange, licorice and coffee bean. Drink 2024–2036.
Tre Bicchieri 2021 & RED WINE OF THE YEAR – Gambero Rosso
Magnificent personality inside the lively and expressive Barolo Ornato ’16, rich in small red fruits with a delicious note of licorice, exceptional length and harmony, with a suffused austerity aura that increases its charm and importance. For us this excellent version of Ornato is the Red Wine of the Year.
Barolo DOCG, Piemonte