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Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2018
The history of Isole e Olena is really the history of Paolo De Marchi. The estate was purchased by Paolo’s parents in the 50’s, in fact it was two separate, adjoining estates/commnes “Isole” and “Olena” each having long histories in the region as being home to grape production for wine. The De Marchi family roots lie in Piedmont where they have held a family wine estate in the Alto Piemonte, Proprietà Sperino, for several generations. Today Paolo’s son, Luca, runs that estate, making him a fifth generation winemaker, Paolo being the fourth. Paolo’s parents move to purchase an estate in Tuscany in the 50’s was rare, specifically for people in the wine industry who were mostly giving up their rural lives in Piedmont to move to the city and work in factories. His father was a lawyer, and never actually made wine even though it was a family tradition. The Isole e Olena estate and surrounding vineyards are based in the center of Chianti Classico, just north of Castellina, directly between Siena to the south and Florence to the north. Paolo made his way to the family estate in 1976, when he took full controll of the vineyards and production. Prior to his involvement at the family winery he studied Agriculture at the University of Turin and worked several harvests in both California and France.
Once he arrived at the estate it was quite clear to him that it was in need of some updates. His father had received subsidies from the EU to make the vineyard work, harvesting and winemaking easier and more focused on high yields. At first he continued to produce the wines as it was dictated to do under the consorzio of Chianti Classico. All the while improving the work in the vineyards and in the cellar to cleaner practices. Paolo has spent nearly two decades replanting the vineyards with increased density to increase the quality of the fruit produced, as well as restoring the ancient terraces in the vineyards, that had been removed to allow tractor friendly work to be done. Paolo has locally been coined “Mr. Sangiovese” referring to his dedication to this variety as being capable of producing a world class wine all on its own. Historically in Chianti Classico Sangiovese had to be blended with other varieties, at one point in history it had to include some white varieties and other red in order to be qualified as Chianti Classico. Many did not believe that Sangiovese could hold its own, which is why the requirement for other varieties existed.
From this passion and belief in Sangiovese as one of the great winemaking grapes, Paolo created his flagship wine “Cepparello”in 1980. A 100% Sangiovese wine that is aged in barrique, this wine rocketed him & the estate to success and made him only the second person in history to bottle a 100% Sangiovese wine in Chianti Classico (the first was “Le Pergole Torte” from Montevertine). The wine set a new standard for what was possible from Sangiovese in the hills of Chianti Classico, and to this day Cepparello remains a benchmark wine and one of the great wines of the world, not just Italy.