Isole e Olena
A CREAM IMPORT SELECTION
Country of Origin: Italy
Location: Barberino Val d'Elsa, Chianti Classico
People: Paolo De Marchi, Owner & Winemaker
Viticulture: Practicing Organic
About.com: Italian Food
Jancis Robinson: Paolo de Marchi on esca
Polish Wine Guide: Isole e Olena - lightness, juiciness, naturalness
In the 1950s, the De Marchi family purchased two adjoining estates in the heart of the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany to create the Isole e Olena winery. The vineyard is situated about 400 meters above sea level and 42 of the 290 hectares are in production.
The family implemented cellar and vineyard improvements to these two estates, the oldest of which dates back to the 12th century. Paolo De Marchi has been running the property since 1976, and is the fourth generation of his family to be involved in the wine business. Paolo was raised in Piemonte, and also makes Nebbiolo-centric wine in that region at a family estate.
In Tuscany, Paolo has focused on both traditional Sangiovese wines and international varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Chardonnay. Isole e Olena 'Cepparello,' Paolo’s flagship wine, introduced in 1980, is a 100% Sangiovese wine that set the standard for the pure Sangiovese movement.
"Always outspoken, Paolo De Marchi is not shy when it comes to expressing his views. For that reason, he is not really part of the 'in crowd' of owners in Chianti Classico's highly political ecosystem. But he doesn't need to be, the wines speak for themselves. These wines are simply extraordinary. The only wines that fall a bit short are the 2015s, but rain during harvest is not exactly easy to work around. De Marchi's Chianti Classico Gran Selezione is one of just a few wines that truly express what the top of the qualitative hierarchy is, while his wines from international varieties, now out of favor, remain compelling. The flagship remains the 100% Sangiovese Cepparello, which in its best vintages, is capable of developing beautifully in bottle for 25+ years."
"Paolo De Marchi made one of the very finest wines of the 2014 vintage with a stunning Cepparello. De Marchi was able to push the harvest into late October and early November, which means the Sangiovese got the benefit of the warm, dry days and cool nights that arrived towards the end of the growing season, a time when the last phase of ripening took place under the gentle, shorter days of fall. There are plenty of other noteworthy wines in this collection, including the terrific 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Collezione Privata. These wines show why De Marchi and Isole e Olena occupy a spot among the world's elite wine estates."
"Paolo De Marchi remains one of the most forward-thinking producers in Italy. His 100% Sangiovese Cepparello was a ground -breaking wine in the 1980s, when Sangiovese was four-letter word and international varieties were all the rage. Now the Gran Selezione is hot and there has never been more focus on pure Sangiovese in Chianti Classico. So what does De Marchi do? Simply make one of the greatest Tuscan wines ever with his 2010 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, which is, ironically, a blend of Sangiovese and Bordeaux varieties. So, now the top wine at Isole e Olena - an estate that has championed Sangiovese for three-plus decades (far before it was fashionable to do so) - is now a blend. In 2011, De Marchi added a dollop of Trebbiano to freshen up his Cepparello. What's old is new again? At the end of the day, none of that really matters. 'I want to make the best wine I can. Period,' says De Marchi in his typical self-deprecating style. Make no mistake about it, these are some of the greatest wines being made anywhere in the world. Chapeau."