About the Wine
Since the mid-1970 Paolo de Marchi has led the revolution that occurred in Chianti Classico in Tuscany. As a young man, he graduated college and left his native Piemonte for an unproductive family farm in Tuscany. He has helped elevate the ancient grape Sangiovese (the blood of Jove), to world-class. His wines have been ambassadors around the world and highlight how far the inexpensive, insipid Chianti of the past has improved to become one of the most prized wines and wine regions anywhere. Cepparello is the flagship wine of the estate and is truly a "WOW" wine that must be tasted to truly appreciate it.
The name ‘Isole e Olena’ came about in the 1950s when the De Marchi family purchased and combined two adjoining small towns, ‘Isole’ and ‘Olena’, each of which dated back hundreds of years. The estate is located in the heart of the Chianti Classico region at the midway point between Siena and Florence.
For Paolo, showcasing the “typicity of Chianti” is more than simply a philosophical or stylistic debate. As a winemaker, his number one priority is to connect the wines to the land where the vines are grown. Through this hands-off approach to winemaking, these wines are uniquely known for linking freshness to contrasting intensity, depth, and longevity. In 1980, Paolo pioneered his flagship wine, Cepparello, made from 100% Sangiovese. This wine has been classified as a “Super Tuscan”, as it violates the traditional Chianti Classico regulations that include a white grape variety into the final blend. As a result of Paolo’s successful technique, this wine set the standard for the pure Sangiovese movement. The wine is made from a top selection of the estate's best fruits from the vineyards in Barberino Val d'Elsa in the northern part of Chianti Classico.
In 2022, Paolo sold the property the EPI group, which also owns Charles-Heidsieck Champagne and Biondi-Santi in Montalcino.
Aging: 18-20 months
Tasting Notes: 100% Sangioves. See critical reviews below.
The 2019 Cepparello has closed down quite a bit since I tasted it last year, as if all of its energy is focused inward. That won't be an issue in another few years' time, but for now readers should resist any temptation to open bottles. Time in the glass brings out gorgeous Sangiovese fruit, along with hints of blood orange, spice, cedar, mint and tobacco, all wrapped together by plush, silky contours. The purity of the fruit is just striking. In 2019, Cepparello is more finesse than power. I expect it will age beautifully over the next several decades.
Paolo De Marchi’s decision to sell Isole e Olena was on every producer’s mind when I visited Chianti Classico recently. Never one to hold back his opinions, De Marchi quickly established himself as a leader in the appellation with a series of stunning wines and a relentless drive to build the reputation of his estate. I can still remember the first time I tasted the flagship Cepparello. I was probably in my mid-twenties, and yet the wine was so distinctive I have never forgotten it. While focus has always been on Sangiovese, De Marchi is one of the few producers in Tuscany who has also excelled with Chardonnay, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, as I have personally seen in tasting many older vintages here over the years. To say that Paolo De Marchi will be missed is a massive understatement, but words aren’t really adequate to express all he has achieved and contribute in a long, storied career that goes back to the mid-1970s. ~96 Vinous Media
So much licorice and fennel seed with black cherry and a hint of tomato paste. Medium body, round texture and savory flavors. Pretty and fresh at the end, with subtle flavors. Drink now or hold. ~94 James Suckling
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