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Owner of Piedmont pioneer Pio Cesare winery, Pio Boffa, dies

Fourth generation owner of Barolo and Barbaresco producer Pio Cesare, Pio Boffa, has died at the age of 66 after a period of hospitalisation with Covid-19. 

Image: MMD

Boffa passed away on Saturday 17 April after being hospitalised for two weeks in Verduno.

Together with fifth generation members of the family, he supervised and ran the family winery, which owns more than 70 hectares of vines in Barolo and Barbaresco.

Boffa was the youngest of three children of Rosy Pio Boffa, grandaughter of Cesare Pio, who founded the winery in 1881. Deciding to join the family business, Pio Boffa travelled the world to learn his craft, including a stint at the Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa in the 1970s.

Having returned to Piedmont, he is credited with introducing the winery’s first single vineyard cru wines, starting with the Barolo Ornato. The estate’s single vineyard wines now include the Barolo Mosconi and Barbaresco Il Bricco as well as Fides Barbera d’Alba, sourced from the Mosconi vineyard since 2017,  and the Chardonnay Piodilei.

Other innovations under his tenure include the producer’s so-called ‘eccentric’ wines, which includes Il Nebbio, a blend of Nebbiolo with a small amount of Pinot Noir, and a rosé which adopted the same concept, this time adding Syrah to the mix.

In 2016, together with fifth generation family members, Boffa resumed production of vermouth and Barolo chinato, using label designs and recipes once used by his family.

Pio Cesare is marking its 140th anniversary this year, with Boffa’s death coming just months before the release of two special wines to mark the occasion.

Boffa is survived by his wife Nicoletta and daughter Federica.

Richard Billett, managing director of the winery’s UK importer, MMD UK, commented: “We are tremendously saddened by the news of the loss of Pio Boffa who succumbed to the coronavirus at only 66. Fourth generation, Pio was a visionary and entrepreneur who transformed the family winery, Pio Cesare, during a four decade tenure at the helm of the company. He was also a tireless and proud standard-bearer for the wines of Piedmont, travelling the globe and forging enduring friendships with everyone that he met. A wonderful host and dedicated family man, he will be greatly missed in Alba, Italy and around the world. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his wife Nicoletta, daughter Federica, nephew Cesare, and wider family, who can be reassured of all our support as they mark their 140th anniversary and look to continue Pio’s legacy.”

President of Colangelo & Patners, Gino Colangelo, who has represented Pio Cesare in the US for many years, added: “We are saddened to hear of the passing of Pio Boffa. A true global ambassador, Pio worked tirelessly to promote the high-quality wines of Barolo and Barbaresco around the world. His legacy will live on through his wines for generations to come. Our thoughts are with his daughter, Federica, and the rest of Pio’s family.”

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