I love the 2007 vintage in Tuscany. I am a traditionalist at heart and the vintages that show exactly how a grape variety should look to me is the perfect vintage. Vintages like 2006 for Tuscany may be rated higher by many wine scribes around the world, but for me it shows Sangiovese at the riper end of the fruit spectrum. Whilst not as extreme as, say the 2003 vintage, 2006 has producers wines that are ripe, and many that are extracted and a tad dried out.
On the other hand 2007 as produced many classic wines, that showcase the savoury characteristics and tannin profile of how serious Sangiovese should taste like. Furthermore, they will age an absolute treat.
The 2007 Isole e Olena Cepparello first grabbed my attention at Vinitaly this year when I tasted it with Paolo di Marchi. It was seamless, well balanced and had loads of the typical Sangiovese complexity. Well finally this wine is available in Australia and it doesn’t disappoint. I had drunk it over three days and each day it has got better and better.
On night one, it was tight, focused and gave nothing away. So much so, that after half a glass I put the screwcap back on (note is bottles under a IGT denomination so Paolo can use screwcap) and stuck it back into my wine cabinet.
On night two, it had opened up beautifully and I had to stop myself from drinking the remainder of the bottle. It reminds me of a better version of the 2004 Cepparello and should age a treat.
Tonight it has gone up another level and offers layers and layers of complexity with beautiful Sangiovese tannins and an intoxicating perfumed nose. Is this Tuscany’s best red? Well it would go close.
However, I must make the point that there has been a slight move to make (intentional or otherwise) Cepparello a more modern style. For me it is still traditional in profile, but I would like to keep a lid on how far they have pushed it. Would it be an even better wine at 1% less alcohol (it is 14.5%)? Well maybe, but we can only judge what we have in the glass.
Drink from 2017-2025+
If there is one wine critic who covers Italy like no other it is Antonio Galloni and for me he is a reference point for all Italian wines. Here is his note from The Wine Advocate:
The 2007 Cepparello (Sangiovese) makes a case for itself as one of the finest wines ever made at Isole e Olena. It is an open, sublime Cepparello endowed with tons of clarity and definition. The ripe red fruit floats on a core of refined, silky tannins that caress the palate with exceptional elegance and finesse. As the wine sits in the glass its inner perfume gradually emerges, leading to an eternal, beautifully crafted finish. The ripeness of the vintage is beautifully balanced by the acidity that is the trademark of Sangiovese grown in these hillside plots. Simply put, this is an utterly thrilling wine that will be a joy to follow over the coming years. In many ways, the restraint, elegance and polish all suggest Cepparello is the Haut-Brion of Tuscany’s high-end, pure Sangioveses. The 2007 Cepparello was fermented in wood uprights and saw three weeks of contact on the skins. Malolactic fermentation took place in equal parts steel and French oak. The final blend was assembled and the wine was subsequently aged in French oak barrels (1/3 new) for 18 months. Proprietor Paolo De Marchi describes the 2007 season as one where periods of heat alternated with well-timed spells of rain. Overall temperatures remained warm (but never extreme) throughout the year, which allowed the fruit to ripen evenly. Still, it was a challenging vintage, and De Marchi was forced to carry out a stringent selection in his vineyards. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2027. 96 points Antonio Galloni
Finally for a look into the history of Isole e Olena, here is Jancis Robinson take on it:
Isole e Olena, two adjacent clusters of old stone buildings in the west of the Chianti Classico zone, are twin estates whose names are world-famous thanks to the efforts of the charismatic Paolo De Marchi, who arrived on these family properties from the north 30 years ago. He was immediately at the forefront of Chianti’s much-needed search for improvement in the clones of Sangiovese, planting and experimenting with a wide range. He was also one of the first to grow Syrah in Tuscany and has long had a reputation for varietal Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon – which can be difficult to ripen fully at this altitude. The 1999 is exceptional. Cepparello is the name of a small stream that runs through the estate and the wine is a selection of some of De Marchi’s best Sangiovese, grown at around 400 m altitude. The wine is aged in a mixture of French and American oaks of different ages. Jancis Robinson