Pio Cesare 2010 Ornato Barolo (97JS 96+AG 94WS)
- Size: 750ml
- Item Code: WNPC229187256
- Vintage: 2010
“The 2010 Barolo Ornato is quite possibly the best wine I have ever tasted from Pio Cesare’s hillside site in Serralunga. Exotic, beguiling and constantly changing in the glass, the 2010 Ornato races across the palate with compelling nuance, brightness and energy. Red stone fruits, crushed rocks, orange peel, spices and white pepper all blossom from the glass in an exotic Barolo full of allure. The 2010 captures all of the mystique of what Serralunga is all about. This is a fabulous showing from Pio Boffa and the team at Pio Cesare. (AG)
“This is amazing character in the nose with tar and earth and floral character. Fruit too. Pure. Full body, with fantastic polished tannins and a finish that goes on for mintues. Great finish with ripe tannins and fruit. Serious wine. What a finish. Try in 2017.” (JS)
“Discreet nuances of vanilla and toast accent the core of cherry, raspberry and floral flavors in this elegant, yet firm Barolo. Beautifully balanced, complex and long, with leather, tar and mineral elements emerging on the finish. Best from 2017 through 2028. “ (WS)
Pio Cesare has been producing wine for more than 100 years and through generations. The tradition began in 1881, when Pio Cesare started gathering grapes in his vineyards and purchasing those of some selected and reliable farmers in the hills of Barolo and Barbaresco districts.
At Pio Cesare, there has always been a conviction that great wine can come only from the finest grapes and the winery’s output has always been limited through adherence to the highest standards. Pio Cesare limits its production by using only the most mature and healthy grapes. The ripening of the grapes is carefully monitored and the harvest is rigidly controlled with each grape selected by hand. Today, the estate is managed by Pio Boffa, great-grandson of Pio Cesare. Under his stewardship, the wines of Pio Cesare have become famous throughout the world. Great strides have been made in quality, and single vineyard offerings have dazzled the wine press.
Piedmont is the most well-known Italian wine region, housing the esteemed (and expensive) Barolo and Barbaresco sub-regions. It is also the home of the Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto grapes.
Nebbiolo based wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco are intense, tannic, and complex. Highly tannic, these wines benefit from long aging and are best accompanied by food. Despite coming from the same grape, terroir and local traditions have given each an unique style. Barolo is more intense, reminiscent of tar. Barbaresco is plummier and more fruity.
Barbera, compared to Nebbiolo, is lighter, less tannic and more acidic. It is the most planted grape in Piedmont, making variety of wine (light to dense, still to sparkling). Alba, Asti, and Monferrato are three subregions in Piedmont well-known for it.
Dolcetto is another common grape in the region. Though it literally means sweet little thing, Dolcetto is dry. It is lighter, velvety in texture, less tannic, and fruitier than Nebbiolo and Barbera. Alba, Acqui, and Asti are three regions who lend their name to Dolcetto (e.g. Dolcetto d’Abla, Dolcetto d’Acqui, and Dolcetto d’Asti).
Despite its overshadowing reds, Piedmont also has three famous whites:
- The sparkling Asti Spumante is one of the most exported Italian wines.
- Cortese di Gavi — a dry, crisp, lean white made from the Cortese Grape — is described by Hugh Johnson (a renowned wine writer) as “Italy’s most prestigious white wine.”
- Arneis di Roero challenges France’s Pinot Blanc with its highly aromatic, almondy flavor.
Italy is the home to many grape varietals including Nebbiolo, Barbera, Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Corvina, Garganega, and Trebbiano. Italian wines are distinctive in that their reds carry a salivating sweet-sour or even bitter taste. Their whites are bone-dry and neutral.
Being the most diverse wine producing country, Italy has thousands of wine varieties and over 300 DOGs. We will focus on the three key regions: Piedmont in the northwest, Veneto in the northeast, and central Tuscany. We will also take a quick look at Southern Italy. Just like Southern France, it is a region with potential.
Italian Wine Regions:
- Piedmont – Nebbiolo
- Tre Venezie (Veneto) – Many including Garganega, Trebbiano & Corvina
- Tuscany – Sangiovese
- Southern – Many regional grapes
Italy’s quality designation system is similar to France’s. It classifies wine into 4 levels of quality:
- Vino da Tavola: Literally means “table wine”. This is the lowest quality category. Minimal (or no) regulation is imposed on this category. For example, vintage date is not required. Also, there can be no association to region.
- Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT): Like the French’s Vin de Pays — takes the characters of a specific region. This category was created to include quality wine produced in a DOC region but does not comply with its criteria. For example, SuperTuscans (Sangiovese blended with Cabernet Sauvignon) would fall under this category.
- Denominazione D’Origine Controllata (DOC): Wine subjects to rigid regional regulations on grape variety, yields per hectare, aging requirement, and vinification methods.
- Denominazione D’Origine Controllata E Garantita (DOCG): A category for the most prestigious subregions in the DOC. Distinctive style, appellation reputation, and commercial success are the additional criteria.
Italian classification system has gone through rounds of improvement. Compared to France where one-third of the wine produced falls into the AOC category, only 14% of Italian wine is qualified DOC/DOCG. There are 300 DOCs and ~32 DOCGs. The majority (over 75%) of Italian wine falls in the vino da tavola category.
Useful Wine Label Knowledge
There are different ways to name an Italian bottle. Good to know when reading Italian wine labels:
- DOC and DOCG wines can be named in two ways:
- By appellation; for example Barolo or Brunello di Montalcino.
- By varietal (or color for blends) plus the region of origin. For example, “Nebbiolo d’Alba” is the label name for a wine made from the Nebbiolo grape in the Alba region. Likewise “Rossi di Montalcino” is a red wine made from blended grapes in Montalcino.
- A wine label with minimal information (just a brand name and color) hints that it is a basic table wine.
- Classico indicates a more prestigious region for the grape. Valpolicella Classico, for instance, is the region known for superior Valpolicella.
- Riserva and Superiore do not assure quality. Riserva implies additional aging and superiore means higher alcohol level. Given that Italy has 300 DOCs, these words are informative but definitely not indicative on the quality of wine.
Nebbiolo is a late-ripening grape that is responsible for the great wines of Piedmont’s Langhe and Monferrato hills: Barolo and Barbaresco. These are the most coveted of Italian wines among international collectors. Notoriously difficult to cultivate, Nebbiolo tends to be planted in the warmest hillside sites, where drainage is excellent. Barolo comes from Nebbiolo planted on the hills southwest of the town of Alba, while Barbaresco is made from Nebbiolo grown just to the north of Alba. Both of these wines show aromas and flavors including but not limited to cherry, plum, raspberry, licorice, mushroom, and leather. Especially with younger examples, expect plenty of bold tannins: these are big wines. With extended bottle-aging, these wines will mellow and show greater austerity. The richness and tannic intensity of top Nebbiolos makes them fine partners for strong flavored grilled meats and stews, as well as dry, aged cheeses.