Sangiovese plays the starring role in many of Tuscany’s most revered reds:  Chianti and all its derivatives, Brunello, Vino Nobile, and even Carmignano.  Then of course, there are the Super Tuscans.  There are lots of great Super Tuscans based on Sangiovese, but not many can eclipse the one I recently tried, crafted by the Maestro Paolo di Marchi.
The 1997 Isole e Olena Cepparello, officially 100% Sangiovese, although rumors say it’s got 5-10% Syrah in the blend, is grown inside the heart of Chianti Classico.  We opened the subject bottle over the weekend with a braised fennel, sausage and pea risotto. 
The Cepparello is a very dark garnet color.  In the glass, the taster is greeted by a symphony of aromas. Crushed berries, red licorice, cedar, dried flowers, dried tobacco and sage are all easily identifiable in this very complex, aromatic wine.  The aristocracy behind the wine displays itself with wonderful precision as you taste.  Ripe, juicy but reserved fruit – like Fred Astaire in a top hat, tails and cane, glide smoothly over the palate and are accented seamlessly by spices, earth, flowers, dried cocoa dust and pipe tobacco. The tannins are silky, still not completely refined, and the acidity is perfectly balanced.  This is testament, to the greatness of the vintage, the vineyard, and the grape as a whole. It’s hard to find fault here.  Absolutely delicious now, and will hold in a cellar for 2-4 years more.  97 points, about $50.

Classic Sangiovese:  1997 Cepparello


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