Vintner Focus | Paolo di Marchi

Paolo di Marchi

Paolo di Marchi – Isole e Olena, Italy, Tuscany

Paolo di Marchi is considered by many as one of the great pioneers in the wine world. Paolo oversees two distinctly different properties in Italy. The first, Isole e Olena in Tuscany, is a perennial hearthrob of the wine world and is considered one of the great properties of Italy.

The Isole e Olena estate has been run by Paolo De Marchi since 1976. Over the years, Paolo has become a leading expert on Sangiovese and travels across the world talking and teaching about this variety. Depite the time these committments demand, he continues to makes the wine at Isole and is now investing a huge amount of energy, with the help of his elder son, Luca, in the old family estate in Piemonte, Proprieta Sperino.

Beginning of the 1950’s the De Marchi family began gradually phasing out the sharecropping system. New specialized vineyards were planted and the wine cellars were expanded. 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 (Proprieta Sperino), where Lessona wine is produced.

Isole e Olena- Paolo di Marchi in Proprieta Sperino

Innovation

Paolo had arrived in the Isole e Olena winery, hailing from Piemonte, and was never afraid to show his passion for difference and creativity. Back in the 1970s, he experimented with the land, despite strict regulation over the Chianti appellation. One of his initial projects involved planting single vineyards of international varieites. These include the Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. He was the first to do so in the region and through these advances, Paolo ultimately discovered a way to balance tradition with innovation. He basically revolutionized the Chianti region.

The de Marchi version of a super Tuscan is also pleasantly different: “Cepparello” does without Merlot and Cabernet. It is a pure varietal Sangiovese – which has more muscle than the Chianti classico, but it never denies its kinship with it.

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Vinification

For Paolo, showcasing the “typicity of Chianti” is more than simply a philosophical or stylistic debate. As a winemaker, his number one priority is to connect the wines to the land where the vines are grown. Through this hands-off approach to winemaking, these wines are uniquely known for linking a freshness to a contrasting intensity, depth and longevity. In 1980, Paolo pioneered his flagship wine, Cepparello, made from 100% Sangiovese. This wine has been classified as a “Super Tuscan”, as it violates the traditional Chianti Classico regulations that include a white grape variety into the final blend. As a result of Paolo’s successful technique, this wine set the standard for the pure Sangiovese movement.
“Proprietor Paolo De Marchi has left an indelible and highly personal stamp on Isole e Olena, and all
of Chianti Classico for that matter…De Marchi stands apart from many of his colleagues for his intense
dedication to the vineyard above all else. Since taking over his family’s estate…De Marchi has transformed
Isole e Olena into a powerhouse.”
– Antonio Galloni
“De Marchi concedes that in his career he has learned some things, but they often lead to more questions.
‘As you get better,’ he explains, ‘the target moves.”’
– Robert Camuto, The Wine Spectator
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