Isole e Olena is a winery in Barberino Tavarnelle (formerly Barberino Val d’Elsa) in the western part of the Chianti Classico DOCG region of Tuscany, Italy, midway between Siena and Florence. The northern boundary of Castellina in Chianti is just to the south. Isole e Olena makes Chianti Classico DOCG and Toscana IGT red wines, a Chardonnay, and a Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC.
Owner: Paolo di Marchi (born 1951) and Marta de Marchi, his wife. Paolo began running the estate in 1976 and is an agronomist and oenologist. His family’s home and vineyard is Proprieta Sperino, in Lessona in northern Piemonte. This is run by Marta and Paolo’s older son, Luca (3rd generation).
The name: The name Isole e Olena dates from 1954 when two adjoining estates, Isole and Olena, were purchased by the De Marchi family and combined into one. Records of the village of Olena date to the 12th century. During the 1950s, the De Marchi family planted new specialised vineyards and expanded the cellars. Average production of 200,000 bottles.
Vineyards: on the western slope of the Chianti Classico region, not far north of the village of Castellina. Influenced by the Tyrrhenian sea to the west which can mean both cooling breezes as well as hot winds in 2011. 45ha (111 acres). 80% Sangiovese. Paolo says Canaiolo is important for him, adding finesse and aroma. 350-450 metres (1,150-1,480 feet). Galestro soils mainly and calcareous–marly clay.
Chianti 2000: Here vine density trials on cordon were conducted, at 2,500 vines/ha, 5,000 vines/ha, 7,000 vines/ha, and 10,000 vines/ha. The first crop from these trials in 1993 was all vinified together.
Winemaking: Paolo told me (28 Jan 2021) he seeks ripeness rather thank concentration. 40hl oak vats for fermentation. Fermentation and maceration around 3 weeks for reds. Press. MLF in stainless. Before he let the reds do MLF in barrel, but now MLT is in tank and then the wines go to barrel. 18-20 months. Now one in four barrels is new. Mostly French oak. ‘American oak for two out of 100 barrels. I like just a touch now, it gives something to the blend.‘
Chardonnay, Collezione Privata IGT Toscana: Oak aged. 2014 14% alc.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Collezione Privata: 1999 Very nice (blind at dinner in Verona with , Robert Joseph et al. (02 April 2017). | 2011 14.5%.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Collezione De Marchi: 2012 Bottled. | 2013 Bottled.
Chianti Classico DOCG, Isole e Olena: The annata goes in botti and 2nd and 3rd fill barrels. Drink within 5-8 years. | 1985 Excellent vintage here. | 1988 Excellent vintage here. | 1990 Excellent vintage here. | 1997 ‘In the 15 years that we have been importing Paolo De Marchi’s wines, there has never been a better Chianti Classico Normale…made from good clones of Sangiovese that are now over 10 years old,’ (Liberty Wines 2001). | 2014 13.5%. | 2016 80% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, 5% Syrah. 140,000 bottles. | 2017 83% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, 2% Syrah. | 2014 13.5%.
Chianti Classico DOCG Isole e Olena Riserva, La Riserva: 2015 140,000 bottles.
Syrah, L’Eremo: The Syrah was grafted onto Canaiolo to make Tuscany’s first varietal Syrah labelled L’Eremo. The fist Syrah in Tuscany. No longer made. | 1989 Debut.
Cepparello: Named after a nearby stream. 100% Sangiovese. A a selection of the best Sangiovese, and not a single vineyard wine. Old vines. Normally the later picked vines. 18 months in new oak barrels. | 1990 35hl per ha. | 1997 Vina da Tavola di Toscana Rosso. David Gleave MW said this ‘won enormous international acclaim but was atypical of Isole with its great power,’ (Liberty Wines 2001). | 1998 Vina da Tavola di Toscana Rosso ‘A return to the elegance that has always characterised Paolo’s wine,’ (Liberty Wines 2001). | 2002 Vina da Tavola di Toscana Rosso. A light, elegant, Pinot style of Sangiovese with very harmonious acidity, and a good effort (at Argiano 2nd June 2005). | 2009 100% Sangiovese. 14.5%. 2.5g/l RS. pH3.19. 6.5g/l acidity. | 2011 14%. | 201214.5%. | 2013 100% Sangiovese. 14% alc. 18 months in French and American oak barrels. | 2014 Bottled.
Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC, Isole e Olena: 2001 13.5% alc. | 2006 65% Malvasia, 35% Trebbiano Toscano. 13%. | 2007 60% Malvasia, 40% Trebbiano. 8,000 bottles produced. 55% Malvasia bianca lunga toscana, 45% Trebbiano toscano. | 2009 50% each Malvasia Bianca Lunga Toscana & Trebbiano toscano.
Fattoria Isole e Olena
Loc. Isole 1
50021 Barberino Val d’Elsa (FI), Italy
Bill Nesto MW & Frances Di Savino, Chianti Classico, the Search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine, (University of California Press, 2016).
Liberty Wines Duty Paid List May 2001.
Telephone conversation with Paolo 28 Jan 2021.
Sales: Liberty Wines (UK).