Elegant and Refined Sangiovese in a Tough Vintage

Today’s Story: Isole e Olena

Isole e Olena is a Tuscan wine estate located in the heart of Chianti Classico and was established in 1952 by the De Marchi family. The family purchased two distinct estates, Isole and Olena, each with multi-century histories of their own and combined them into this new venture. In 1976, fourth generation winemaker Paolo De Marchi left his home in Piedmont and joined the family estate of Isole e Olena. Paolo immediately set about enhancing the quality of the wines and modernizing their approach, primarily by planting non-indigenous varieties in single vineyard plots. On the quality front, Paolo will sell off any finished wine he does not feel meets the quality standards of his estate and therefore he keeps production smaller than it could be. Today Isole e Olena consists of about 290 hectares of which 50 hectares are planted to vine, and the family practices sustainable viticulture. Through a traditional and minimally invasive philosophy in the cellar, Paolo crafts wines meant to showcase the variety alongside a sense of place for the Chianti Classico region.

Today’s Wine: 2014 Cepparello

100% Sangiovese; 14.5% ABV

The 2014 Cepparello is almost opaque deep garnet in color with ruby hues in the bowl. Given two hours in the decanter, the wine opens to showcase a nose of plum, black cherry, blackberry, blue florals, leather, sun-dried potting soil, wet slate, oregano, chocolate, and oaky spice. Moving onto the palate, I get notes of dusty cherry, black plum, black raspberry, dried violets, sweet tobacco, scorched earth, charred garden herbs, balsamic, espresso, and baking spice. This is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, high but fine-grained tannins, and a long finish. Superb depth and quality for such a tough vintage in Tuscany.

This is the estate’s flagship wine, first created in 1980. Since a 100% Sangiovese wine could not be labeled Chianti Classico, Paolo received acknowledgement for this wine as a “Super Tuscan” and it is therefore labeled Toscana IGT. Many credit this wine as a huge step up for Chianti Classico Sangiovese, and it is coveted by many in the world of wine.

Price: $79. It’s pretty remarkable what Isole e Olena did with the Cepparello in this tough vintage, and I do think there’s a solid value proposition here. I could easily put this up with the $120ish bottles I’ve enjoyed from Tuscany, even from stronger vintages. This is a beautiful and elegant Sangiovese with plenty of gas left in the tank.

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