2008 Isole e Olena Vin Santo di Chianti Classico 375
Individual bunches of Malvasia and Trebbiano are manually harvested early to preserve acidity and then either hung to dry or placed on wooden mats to dry until sugar levels reach the desired point. Isole e Olena uses bamboo mats for drying; the grapes dry for 3-5 months. The dried grapes are then pressed. The thick must is placed in oak and chestnut barrels of varying size that are filled three-quarters full. Fermentation initiates with a dose of “mother” Vin Santo. Then the barrels are sealed with wax and left unopened for 6 years in the “vinsantaia,” the designated Vin Santo room usually in the attic. However, Paolo de Marchi moved his Isole e Olena's vinsantaia to the ground floor in 1991. Although it forgoes tradition, he believes having the barrels closer to the cool ground helps preserve acidity and prevent a “cooked” taste to the wine. The Vin Santo is left in contact with its lees, neither racked nor filtered, during the aging process. As the Vin Santo ferments and ages, much of the wine evaporates through the porous, old barrels. As a result, the Vin Santo is essentially a fully-oxidized wine.