I’ve written many times before that Paolo DiMarchi is but a humble gentleman and a maestro of Sangiovese. The depths of his knowledge seem limitless when you speak to him. He pays attention to the weather with a keen eye; which way is the wind blowing, how hot is it, how is the soil in the vineyard reacting to it’s outside influences. All of this plays a part in crafting amazing wines and directing his decisions.
The last time I spoke to Paolo we were discussing the origins of Cepparello and he remarked to me “the problem then wasn’t with Sangiovese- it was with us, the winemakers. We weren’t aware of its greatness then. We didn’t know how to properly farm it in order for it to be great.” That is clearly all in the past.
The apex of De Marchi’s artistry is Cepparello. Named after a stream the bisects De Marchi’s estate, Cepparello is officially a 100% Sangiovese wine. Little birdies have consistently told me over the years that somehow, someway, 5-10% Syrah finds it’s way into the blend. This has never been officially confirmed to me by Paolo, but his wry smile may be all the confirmation I need. That, and the smokey notes that consistently appear in this wine.
Today we’re digging into the Cellar to discuss the 1997 Isole e Olena Cepparello. Still an extremely dark garnet, in the glass, the taster is met with a symphony of pleasurable aromas. Crushed wild cherry, cedar, dried flowers, chestnut and worn leather are identifiable in this very complex, aromatic wine. The bottle age to the aromas is clearly present at this stage.
On the palate, this is ripe and juicy but clearly developing more secondary notes of earth, porcini, mulch, cocoa and cigar tobacco. The tannins are silky and fully resolved and the acidity is deftly balanced. This is testament, to the greatness of the vintage, the vineyard, and the grape as a whole. Perhaps turning grey in the beard, but still a very wonderful wine. Drink now. 95 points. About $50 on release.
Buon fine settimana!
Want to find this wine? Wine Searcher (which barely makes it back to 1997!)