Monday, February 10, 2014

The Wines of Pio Cesare with Owner Cesare Benvenuto and the Food of Patrick Bazin at Bazin’s on Church in Northern Virginia, Italy/USA

Picture: Annette Schiller, Ombiasy PR and WineTours, Christian G.E. Schiller and Cesare Benvenuto, Pio Cesare, at Bazin's on Church

Cesare Benvenuto, Co-owner of the famous Pio Cesare Estate in the Piedmont region, came to Washington DC to show us his great wines. Chef Patrick Bazin from Bazin’s on Church in Vienna, Virginia, prepared a great dinner and his wife Julie Bazin orchestrated the evening with a lot of charm.

Picture: Bazin's on Church


The province of Piedmont is in the northwestern corner of Italy, located in the foothills of the Alps forming its border with France and Switzerland. The most well-known wines from the region are Barolo and Barbaresco. They are made from the Nebbiolo grape. While Turin is the capital of the Piedmont, Alba and Asti are at the heart of the region's wine industry.

Although the winemaking regions of the Piedmont and Bordeaux are very close in latitude, only the summertime temperatures are similar: the Piedmont wine region has a colder, continental winter climate, and significantly lower rainfall due to the rain shadow effect of the Alps. Vineyards are typically planted on hillsides. The warmer south facing slopes are mainly used for Nebbiolo or Barbera while the cooler sites are planted with Dolcetto or Moscato.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Co-owner Pio Boffa, Pio Cesare, in Washington DC in 2010

Pio Boffa and the Wines of Pio Cesare, Piedmont, Italy

In the past, Barolos used to be very tannic, and they needed a lot of time to soften up. This was so because fermenting wine sat on the grape skins for at least three weeks, extracting huge amounts of tannins; then it was aged in large, wooden casks for years. In order to meet the international taste, which preferred fruitier, more accessible styles, the "modernists" cut fermentation times to a maximum of ten days and put the wine in new French barriques. The results, said “traditionalists", were wines that weren't even recognizable as Barolo and tasted more of new oak than of wine. The controversies between traditionalists and modernists have been called the "Barolo wars".

The standard grape used in Barolo is Nebbiolo. Yield is regulated – there are limits for the yield per hectar. The Barbera grape is the most widely planted variety in all of the Piedmont and makes a juicy, muscular red wine that is not as tannic as the Nebbiolo-based Barolo and Barbaresco. The wines have a sense of spiciness to them with little acid and tannins. They are able to be drunk relatively young and tend to be the every day drinking wines of the Piedmontese.

Pio Cesare

For five generations, the Pio Cesare family has now been producing Piemontese wines in its ancient cellars, located in the center of the town of Alba. The cellars walls date back to the Roman Empire period. Cesare Benvenuto reported that recently significant investments have been made to rebuild and restructure the cellars and the winery's facilities.

Pictures: Roland Hermann, Regional Manager for Wine Importer at Maisons Marques and Domaines, and Patrick and Julie Bazin

Pio Cesare ownes more than 50 hectares of vineyards. In addition, Pio Cesare has long term relationships with growers and manages all aspects of viticultures in these vineyards. These growers have been selling grapes to the family for generations.

The name of this estate is derived from the name of its founder, Cesare Pio, who set up this family business in 1881. It remains in the family, with Pio Boffa and Cesare Benvenuto, both from the Cesare family, at the helm today.

Bazin’s on Church

Bazin's on Church is the creation of Patrick and Julie Bazin. Patrick Bazin has been one of Washington's premier chefs for the last two decades, most recently as the Executive Chef at The Occidental Grill in downtown D.C. His wife Julie worked for years imparting her great taste in clothing (and life) to her loyal clients at James Clothiers. Together they have created an exquisite restaurant that fully reflects their refined palates and offers an inviting dining experience, Bazin’s on Chuch in Vienna, Church Street.

Pictures: Annette Schiller, Ombiasy PR and WineTours, Christian G.E. Schiller, Patrick Bazin and Julie Bazin

Tom Sietsema: Food lovers admire this husband-and-wife-owned American restaurant for its interesting flavor combinations. Wine mavens know they can drink as well as they eat in the simply dressed dining room, which features brick walls, wood floors and an arched ceiling whose sound-absorbing panels mute the noise of the inevitable crowd. A warm hello at the door is followed by knowledgeable service at the table and food that smacks of the big city: Chef Patrick Bazin spent almost seven years at the historic Occidental in Washington before venturing out to make a more personal statement with his spouse, Julie, in the suburbs.

Pio Cesare 5 Course Wine Dinner


Pictures: Reception

1st Course

Roasted Atlantic Cod
Radish confit, cauliflower puree, almond gremolata

Pictures: Preparing the Roasted Atlantic Cod

Pio Cesare Gavi 2012 ($26.99) You find the regular price (per 12 bottles) in parenthesis. At the evening, the wines were offered at a discount.


VINEYARDS: Sourced exclusively on hillside vineyards in very selected locations of the Gavi area, belonging to families who have been producing their grapes for Pio Cesare for generations and who have worked their vineyards according to Pio's strict quality controls.
VINIFICATION: Slow fermentation at low temperature in stainless tanks on the lees for four months.
AGEING: The wine is kept on stainless steel tanks at low temperatures until March after the harvest when it is bottled.
TASTING NOTES: Ripe fruit with freshness and a clean spicy fragrance, good complex flavor, smooth, silky, rich and slightly aromatic, meant to be consumed young but it can age in the bottle up to 3 years.

Pictures: Pio Cesare Dinner

2nd Course

Mushroom Fricassee
Creamy mascarpone polenta, porcini juice

Pio Cesare Barbera D'Alba 2011 ($26.99)

VINEYARDS: Family owned vineyards in Serraluga d’Alba (Ornato and Colombaro), in Sinio, Diano d'Alba and Grinzane Cavour together with other vineyards belonging to “historical suppliers” who have been selling their grapes to Pio Cesare for generations, working their vineyards according to our directions and strict quality controls.
VINIFICATION: 15 days of skin contact in stainless steel temperature controlled fermenters.
AGEING: 18 months in French oak. 30% in mid toasted barriques and 70% in 20 to 50 hectoliters casks.
TASTING NOTES: The Barbera grapes grown in the Barolo area, give full structure, plummy and complex flavor, with spicy and ripe fruit, blackberry aroma and a hint of toasted tobacco. It ages quite well.

James Suckling - July 29, 2013: 93 Points "Wow! Aromas of dark chocolate, walnuts and blueberries. This wine has a full body with superb richness and huge power. It lasts for minutes on the palate and is chewy yet fresh. This is a wonderful, sexy bottle of Barbera from a vineyard called Colombaro next to Pio Cesare's great Barolo vineyard of Ornato in Serralunga d'Alba."

3rd Course

Roasted Double Thick Lamb Chop
Parsnip puree, hazelnut praline, rosemary-lemon sauce

Pio Cesare Barolo 2009 ($69.99)

VINEYARDS: Sourced from family owned vineyards in Serralunga d'Alba (Ornato), Grinzane Cavour (Gustava), La Morra (Roncaglie), Barolo - Novello (Ravera). The balance of the grapes comes from other exclusive vineyards owned by "growers" who have been providing grapes to the Pio Family for generations.
VINIFICATION: In stainless steel tanks. Skin contact for about 20 days.
AGEING: In mid toasted French oak for 3 years: 70% in 20 to 50 hectoliters casks; 30% in barriques.
TASTING NOTES: A classic Barolo. Excellent structure and harmony, mild tannins and balanced fruit. It is immediately approachable, but it has a very long ageing potential

Wine Advocate 93 Points: Pio Cesare offers two very distinct expressions of Barolo. The first, the 2009 Barolo, shows classic lines and elegant characteristics of mild spice and forest berry backed by dried ginger, blue flower and anise seed. Its tight, crisp and finely textured mouthfeel appeal to those with a preference for traditional Barolo. Again, this producer has done a good job managing the warmer vintage conditions. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2028.-ML

Pictures: Cesare Benvenuto Talking to Guests

4th Course

Sicilian Spiced Duck Breast

Roasted Carrots, beets, preserved mission figs sauce

Pio Cesare Barberesco Il Bricco 2007 ($139.99)

VINEYARDS: A single vineyard Barbaresco from very ripe grapes of several plots in the famous "Il Bricco" Estate, owned by the Pio Cesare family.
VINIFICATION: Fermented in stainless steel tanks; 15 days of skin contact.
AGEING: This wine ages in French oak for 30 months. 70% of it in new barriques and 30% in a 20 hectoliters casks.
TASTING NOTES: Powerful and structured, rich in ripe fruit, opulent, spicy and with a very long life. Produced in small quantities and only in excellent vintages.

The Wine Advocate - Antonio Galloni - October 2011: 93 Points The 2007 Barbaresco Il Bricco is a powerhouse. Layers of black cherries, espresso, mocha and spices emerge from this large-scaled, powerful wine. The oak is beautifully integrated in this vintage, always an excellent sign for how the wine is likely to evolve over the coming years. There is plenty going on in the glass, as this dark, mysterious Barbaresco continues to develop with air. This is another strong showing from Pio Cesare.

5th Course

Lemon Granita
Fresh red berry sauce

Moscato d'Asti 2012 ($26.99)

VINEYARDS: From old vines in selected vineyards in Treiso and in Trezzo Tinella.
VINIFICATION: The grapes are softly pressed: the free run juice undergo partial cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks, under pressure.
AGEING: After the partial fermentation, the wine is immediately bottled.
TASTING NOTES: A semi - sweet wine, with flavors of honey, rich ripe fruit, aromatic on the palate, along with a frizzante finish. The nose is fresh. This wine is produced in very limited production.


Bazin's on Church (facebook): What a great wine dinner, thanks Cesare! Great job Chris!

Picture: Bazin's on Church Wine Director Chris Cunningham and Cesare Benvenuto

schiller-wine: Related Postings 

The Premium Soliste Wines of Former Famous Chef and Now Famous Winemaker Claude Koeberle and the Great Food of Chef Patrick Bazin at Bazin’s on Church in Northern Virginia, USA

Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta Winemaker Dinner at Taberna del Alabardero in Washington DC, USA/Spain

Pio Boffa and the Wines of Pio Cesare, Piedmont, Italy

German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, 2013

Bordeaux Wine Tour 2013 by ombiasy

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