Monday, May 3, 2010

Lunch with a wine “Superstar”-Pio Boffa of Pio Cesare of Piedmont, Italy

by Dwight Casimere

Italian winemaker Pio Boffa, fourth generation winemaker of the legendary Pio Cesare winery of Piedmont, Italy is almost breathless as he describes the new releases over an elegant authentic Italian gourmet lunch at South Beach Miami’s Quattro restaurant on luxurious Lincoln Road.

“This wine is a Rock Star,” he declared emphatically, lifting a glass of his signature Nebbiolo Langhe 2006 ($32). This rich, full bodied wine with its intense red fruit component and aromatic presence of late toast and the mellow richness of light toast derived from its aging for 30 months in French oak, melded perfectly with the classic dish of Osso Bucco, so expertly prepared by Chefs Fahrizio and Nicola.

“The warm tannins almost create a richness in the mouth that gets you ready for the rich taste of the meat and the sauce, which is made with the wine we are drinking.” Pio Boffa’s words arrived in cascades as the expert wait staff buzzed amongst the select group of invited guests and wine journalists who were assembled from around the world during the recent Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Experience. “We differ from so many other wineries in the region in that we own and control all of our vineyards, so we maintain the quality from the soil to the bottling.”

Pio Boffa’s words are an understatement. The family has been producing wines under the flagship name Pio Cesare since 1881 when his great grandfather first planted vineyards in the legendary rustic hills of Piemonte. Under his leadership, the winery has moved into the area of technological advancement that incorporates the latest modern innovations coupled with sustainable growth practices in the vineyards. “My father is a man of few words,” Pio Boffa said, his tone lowering with gravitas. “In fact, my father was not one to give compliments lightly. But he told me when tasting this wine, ‘Now you are making the wine, using all this technology, that I have been making without for the past 43 years!’ “That is as close to a compliment as he has ever given me,” Boffa said with rye humor.

The sun-splashed afternoon began with an appropriately spring-like wine selection,
Pio Cesare’s buttery l’Altro Chardonnay ($16.60) served with an assortment of Anti-pasti. This is one of the most beautiful examples of Italian Chardonnay I have ever tasted with its light notes of lemon and a discreet influence of oak on the nose. It has a clean, almost honey-like flavor that makes it the perfect summertime wine with salads, yet it has an herbal quality that makes it a perfect match for lamb or veal. There’s good acidity and a touch of fatness in the mouth feel that makes it a perfect match for seafood, particularly salmon, with its rich Omega 3 fatty tissue and a certain soul mate for shellfish, be they clams, mussels, stone crab, lobsters or grilled calamari. (They adventurous might opt for grilled baby octopus. They’re available in many supermarkets these days and quite inexpensive. With all of the problems with seafood supplies due to the Icelandic volcano and recent Gulf oil spill, these more inexpensive, exotic ‘seafoods’ such as calamari (squid) or octopus (they need to invent another, more consumer friendly name for this one) might be a budget conscious alternative to the soaring prices of more traditional sea fare).

Look for Pio Cesare wines in the Italian section of your local wine merchant. They’re quite affordable and absolutely delicious and food-friendly! Dwight The Wine Doctor recommends them highly! For more information, visit

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