2015 Isole e Olena Cepparello IGT Toscana
Cepparello was a Super Tuscan before being a Super Tuscan was cool...in fact, many people credit Isole e Olena proprietor Paolo De Marchi with producing, in Cepparello, the very first wine of the genre back in 1980. His dissatisfaction with the then-required Chianti Classico 'formula' impelled him to produce a wine made of all Sangiovese and age it in oak barrels even though he'd have to call it Table Wine.
The Tuscans were appalled at this native Piemontese iconoclast who would rather label his best wine from his oldest vines 'Vino da Tavola' rather than the far more prestigious Chianti Classico. Of course it wasn’t long before many followed suit and the whole sub-category of Tuscan wines that out-Chianti'd Chianti itself took wing.
The first Cepparellos were large scale, super-tannic wines that required long, long aging periods to drink well, but as time as gone on and De Marchi gradually refined the process of fermenting and cellaring the wine by replacing his Slovenian oak casks with French barrique, rather than ‘power,’ finesse has become the by-word to describe the wine. I’d say that the modern era for Cepparello began in the early 1990s and has never looked back and the vintages since 2007 have, by far, some of the best wines they’ve ever produced. The 2015 is a particularly auspicious vintage for Cepparello; a warm summer gave way to beautiful fall and created powerhouse wines with great structures and plenty of acidity. The 2015 Cepparello is real beauty that starts off reticent and backwards but, as time goes on, will put on weight and added grace and substance every year for the next….well……many . In fact, some in Italy have suggested that 2015 will make a vintage for the ages. The aromatics are, in a word, ravishing! This is everything Sangiovese should smell like- black cherries, wood smoke, buttery leather, faded flowers, dried currant and more….a lot more. On the palate, it feels more like Margaux than Chianti as its iron-oxide/mineral drives the texture before fleshing out on an incredible, only-Sangiovese finish. This is a tour de force of Tuscan winemaking! Alas, only a few cases to spread around…….please speak to yours before the reviews hit! (The 2014 was called by Galloni ‘an epic Cepparello and scored 97 points)
*By the way, our Cepparello was imported by Isole e Olena’s designated importer Dalla Terra. If you see it a lot cheaper out there, make sure you’re getting a wine that has been property stored and handled…….
John Rittmaster- Wine Director