Paolo De Marchi's vineyards, like those of Giovanni Manetti at Fontodi, are superbly tended. This, more than anything, yields wines of the quality that have kept them both ahead of the chasing pack for the past three decades.
The name 'Isole e Olena' came about in the 1950s when two adjoining estates, 'Isole' and 'Olena', were purchased by the De Marchi family and combined to form one. The history of both estates dates back many hundreds of years, with the earliest documentation of the village of Olena in the 12th century.
Isole e Olena is situated in the western part of Chianti Classico, just north of the village of Castellina. Its 45 hectares of vineyard are situated between 350 - 450 metres above sea level, and are planted primarily on galestro soil. Because the western flank of Chianti is open to breezes from the sea, this is a much cooler part of the zone, and results in wines that are lighter but more scented and elegant than many others.
"Cepparello", Paolo's flagship wine, made solely from Sangiovese, is fragrant with great elegance and balance. His Chianti, a blend of 80% Sangiovese supplemented by Canaiolo and a dash of Syrah, is scented and alluring.
His barrel-fermented Chardonnay is outstanding, one of Italy's best examples of this variety boasting rich aromas of toasted almonds and butter. Paolo's Vin Santo, aged for eight years in small barrels called "caratelli", is one of the best produced.
The Isole e Olena estate is located in the heart of Chianti Classico, it covers 320 hectares, of which 55 are planted with vines and 45 with olives. The vines are planted on galestro soil t an altitude of 400 metres above sea level and face south-west. The oldest vines on the estate were planted in 1958 and the youngest in 2007. Paolo De Marchi was one of the first producers in Chianti Classico to plant high density vineyards with new lower yielding clones of Sangiovese in the 1980s. In many cases he returned to the poor soils on hillside sites that had been abandoned when quantity took precedent over quality. As a result of these changes, Paolo gets better grapes, and hence better wines.
Fermentation took place in stainless steel tank with 12 days of maceration, delestage (or 'rack and return') and pumping-over twice a day. De Marchi first experimented with the delestage method in 1996 and subsequently began using it for all red wines from the 1997 vintage. Maturation lasted one year and took place in 225 litre barrel (of which 5% was new oak) and 4,000 and 2700 litre oak casks. The wine is then bottled and released after three to four month of bottle ageing.
This Chianti Classico is crimson in colour with typical sour cherry and bramble notes. The palate has a supple, lithe character full of perfumed fruit and is given depth by a mineral vein. Structure comes from the taut acidity and tannin structure.