Chiara Boschis

Chiara Boschis

E. Pira & Figli Winery di Chiara Boschis (Barolo) (Winemaker & Owner)

“I am first a farmer.”

The winemaker and owner of E. Pira & Figli di Chiara Boschis in Barolo is the passionate, talented, and determined Chiara Boschis. She is the first woman winemaker in the Langhe and also the only female member of a small group known as the “Barolo Boys,” about whom more will be said later.

Chiara and her three siblings, a sister and two brothers, come from eight generations of farmers. She grew up loving the land: “As farmer’s children we were always involved in helping our parents in the work they were doing. I have especially nice memories of the harvests. All the relatives would come and help my parents. My mom would be cooking and everyone was happy, singing, eating and drinking at the end of the working day!”

While her brothers prepared themselves for running the Borgogno family winery at some future time, Chiara studied business and economics at the University of Turin, knowing that as a daughter she would be excluded from working in the family winery. As fate would have it, in 1980, while she was still at the university, E. Pira & Figli, the estate of a dear friend of her parents, became available; the friend had died and left no heirs. Chiara, who was very interested in a future in wine, convinced her parents to help her purchase E. Pira & Figli. The three of them formed an Azienda Agricola and took out “a big mortgage together.”

After graduation, Chiara worked for several years at an international consulting firm to earn money and to gain the experience she would later need at E. Pira & Figli; her father and older brother managed the winery during this period. By the mid-1980s, she was able to begin working full-time at the winery.

As a talented, visionary young winemaker, she became associated with other skilled young winemakers who had realized change was needed to improve the wines of Barolo. “It was a very exciting time when I started. This group of friends and I, the “Barolo Boys,” as they are called now, were always exchanging suggestions and ideas. We wanted to make Barolo the best we could.”

In 1990, with a clear vision of what she wanted to accomplish, Chiara took over the leadership at the E. Pira & Figli winery. Thus, Chiara finally became not only a winery owner but also a winemaker. She began implementing what she had learned in association with the Barolo Boys, protocols such as dropping fruit to decrease the size of the crop—a “shocking” practice at the time—thereby increasing the quality of the grapes, shorter fermentations, and using small French oak barrels, known as barriques, to accommodate the small amount of wine comprising the single crus being produced. As explained by Chiara, “The production in purity of the single crus that were normally in smaller quantities took naturally to the use of smaller barrels, which also helped to soften the tannins."

Chiara’s philosophy is to craft wines that combine “the extraordinary power of Barolo with approachability, balance, intense aromatics, and elegance.” This equilibrium is achieved through strict vineyard management, careful selection, organic farming practices, and meticulous vinification techniques that favor a gentle touch, allowing the grapes to express their true character. Her younger brother, Giorgio, who joined with Chiara starting in 2010, shares her philosophy and passion and also brings to the winery his thirty years of experience.

E. Pira & Figli wines are made exclusively from its 11 hectares of proprietary vineyards in Barolo (Cannubi, Liste and Terlo), Monforte d’Alba (Mosconi, Ravera and Le Coste) and Serralunga d’Alba (Gabutti and Baudana); the Cannubi property, one of the very best locations in Barolo, is only a small parcel—less than one hectare—and Chiara wishes it were more. The work on the vines, performed strictly manually, is carried out with extreme care and respect for the environment, following the dictates of organic cultivation; organic certification was obtained in 2014.

For the Barolo, fermentation is done in stainless steel for about two weeks with indigenous yeasts. Malolactic fermentation happens in steel, and then the wine is transferred to oak for 24 months. In order to best preserve what nature has provided in terms of her grapes, Chiara does not fine or filter her wines. The Barolos rest about a year in bottle before release.

The Wines. Chiara produces three single-vineyard Barolo wines, Cannubi, Via Nuova, and Mosconi, as well as three traditional Piedmont reds, Dolcetto d’Alba, Barbera d’Alba, and Langhe Nebbiolo. Production is approximately 40,000 bottles.

Her very first wine, the 1990 Barolo Riserva Cannubi, earned the coveted Tre Bicchieri award from the Gambero Rosso. International praise and consistently high ratings have continued. The 2010 E. Pira & Figli Chiara Boschis Barolo Cannubi received a score of 96 from The Wine Advocate, for example. The 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 E. Pira e Figli Barolo Mosconi all received ratings ranging from 93 to 96 from Decanter, Wine Spectator, Robert Parker and James Suckling.

Decanter accompanied its rating of 96 for the 2014 E. Pira & Figli Chiara Boschis Barolo Mosconi with the comment: “Chiara Boschis’ take on Monforte’s Wagnerian terroir translates it into a minerally, fruit-driven symphony with refined tannins and graceful flavour. This is a brilliant compromise between acidity and sweetness.”

****It should be noted that our appointment with Chiara needed to be cancelled at the last minute due to the death of her dear father, Franco Boschis; we communicated with her only briefly a few days later and then communicated afterwards by email. ****