Last night, at the age of 66, Pio Boffa passed away, after having brilliantly accompanied and directed the events of the famous family business for almost half a century which was created 140 years ago by his great-grandfather Cesare Pio. For about four decades he was an important figure in his field, and during his lifetime he personally contributed to writing important pages in the history of Italian wine.
Pio Boffa and the Pio Cesare winery
He started very young, in unsuspecting times––when Italian wine was just part of our farmers’ eating habits, a time when labeled bottles were a rare commodity––travelling the length and breadth of the world to bring the word everywhere, not only of Pio Cesare, but more generally of all quality Italian wine. When it came to explaining his family history his eyes would lit up, his natural verve found free rein and his temper was further strengthened. After a tough commercial apprenticeship, which began, as was customary at the time, by carrying in a refrigerated bag the samples to be tasted by the sommeliers of the best restaurants in the United States, Pio never stopped, tirelessly, promoting his wines, going from hotel to hotel and from restaurant to restaurant, and even attending thousands of trade events.
Pio Boffa’s idea of Barolo and Barbaresco
Under a somewhat austere and severe demeanor, like the wines of his land, which he loved so much, was a man full of irony and humor, from whom there was always something to learn, in the long chats on the development of the modern wine trade. Increasing the notoriety of his brand and more generally of Barolo and Barbaresco was his mission, which he has always carried out in a secular way, without ever getting involved in fashion but attentive to the evolution of taste and oenology, and without never raising tones in the well-known diatribes that have animated Langa in more recent times.
Federica Rosy Boffa and Cesare Benvenuto. The new generation of Pio Cesare
The future of the Pio Cesare winery and the fifth generation
As an assiduous worker who was always full of vigor, this gentleman of yesteryear created very solid foundations, leaving the burden of continuing his work to his daughter Federica and grandson Cesare. We are deeply saddened by his passing but we know that the business is in safe and equally enthusiastic hands. We were probably among the last to collect his testimony and to speak with him during a recent visit to the winery and a vertical tasting of his Barolo and Barbaresco.
According to our Vini d’Italia 2021 guide, his Barolo Ornato ’16 was elected Red of the Year, worthy crowning of hiscareer and of the 140 years of Pio Cesare’s history. We dedicated a lot of space to him in the May issue of Gambero Rosso that you will find in newsstands shortly, never imagining that he would soon be leaving us. Sit tibi terra levis, Pio.
by Gianni Fabrizio, Marco Sabellico, Giuseppe Carrus, Lorenzo Ruggeri
Photo Andrea Ruggeri