Each week I pick out one wine to highlight as my wine of the week.  This wine may be an outstanding wine, a great value or just something very interesting.




It may be feeling like Spring in some parts of the country, but in the Midwest and Northeast, we can tell you it’s still Winter.  What’s better on a cold, snowy evening than a nice plate of pasta with a thick meat sauce?  The perfect pairing for this dish or even a nice pizza is an Italian Chianti.  This week’s wine of the week is a 2010 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico.




The Winery

The name ‘Isole e Olena’ was conceived in the 1950’s when two adjoining estates, ‘Isole’ and ‘Olena’ were purchased by the De Marchi family and were combined to form one.  Today the Isole e Olena estate is run by Paolo De Marchi and his family.  Paolo comes from a family with three generations of winemaking experience in the northern section of Piedmont .  He was raised in close contact with the wine world as he has always enthusiastically followed the development of his grandfather’s estate located near Gattinara, Villa Sperino, where Lessona wine is produced.  The traditional 4-grape Chianti Classico blend was gradually altered to diminish the quantity of white grapes present until complete elimination.  Thus the Isole o Olena Chianti evolved from being a light, young wine to the fuller-bodied wine of today, which is destined for cellar aging.  Simultaneously Paolo began experimenting with the production of a wine made exclusively of Sangiovese grapes.  His efforts in this direction have yielded the resultant wine named Cepparello.  In 1980 he produced the first Cepparello.


Many of the wineries in the Chianti Region double as tourist attractions.  Not Paolo De Marchi’s Isole e Olena; when you turn right at the main gate and drive by the burnished steel fermentation tanks, you will come to a muddy square where you may find someone working on a wagon with an arc welder.


“We don’t have time for tourism,” says Paolo.  “It would distract us from our wines.” His dedication is our gain; Isole e Olena’s wines are superb.  In addition to Chianti Classico, there is Cepparello, a pure Sangiovese of towering complexity and finesse, and a breathtaking Vinsanto.  The winery also produces a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Chardonnay, and L’Eremo, a Syrah.



The Wine

The wines that emanate from the Isole e Olena winery in Tuscany are some of the most sought after in the region each vintage.  Run with a rigorous attention to detail and quality by Paolo de Marchi (whose family united the “Isole” and “Olena” wine estates to form Isole e Olena in the 1950s) past tasting results make it easy to see why the wines of Isole e Olena remain so sought after.


80% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 5% Syrah in the 2010 vintage, Isole e Olena’s Chianti Classico is probably the wine (along with the 100% Sangiovese Isole e Olena “Cepparello”) for which the Isole e Olena winery has become best known.  Fermented in stainless steel tanks, this 2010 Isole e Olena Chianti was then matured for one year in primarily older oak (the typical capacity of the barrels used was 4000 litres).




2010 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico – $18.59

This has been a favorite since a friend suggested I give it a try.  In the seemingly never ending Wisconsin winters, pasta and a good Chianti always makes it feel a little nicer no matter how cold it is or how hard it is snowing.


This wine has 14.0% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a nice ruby red color. The very enjoyable nose has cherries, plums, baking spices, dried herbs, violets, and a touch of earthy underbrush. This wine has medium body with ripe tannins and very good acidity. On the palate the wine has nice tart red fruit and spice up front with some earthy elements coming in later adding depth and complexity. The finish has good length with the tart fruit, spices, and earthiness held together nicely by the acidity. If you can find this for under $20, stock up.  (91 pts)

2010 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico

2010 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico



In Summary

Even though it makes up only 5% of the blend, the Syrah adds body, dried herbs, and a hint of darker fruit to this wine.  This is a very serious Chianti Classico that would excel with just about any Italian dish with meat included in the preparations.  The typically outstanding acidity from the predominant Sangiovese helps the wine stand up to any dish with tomatoes.


It looks like the 2011 vintage is the current vintage but the 2010 vintage is still readily available either on your local wine store’s shelf or via Wine-Searcher.




Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.


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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.