Chardonnay Collezione Privata 2021 – Isole e Olena.
When thinking about the Chianti region, our minds immediately wonder off to the red wines made from mainly Sangiovese grapes that have made this region so (rightfully) famous. It may surprise you that the region also brings forth excellent wines from other grape varieties, such as this note-worthy Chardonnay produced by Tuscany’s icon Isole e Olena.
This review is part of our project “Tuscany, a Journey through Five Lenses”.
About the Winery
From the time Paolo de Marchi was just a kid, he always had a passion for nature and agriculture. Growing up, he spent a large deal of his time in a property in the north of Piemonte that his family owned. Here, he had his first introduction to winemaking and the patience and long-term view that was required for making good quality wines.
Paolo comes from a family of winemakers and, when he was about five years old, his father bought the Isole e Olena vineyard. Funnily enough, Paolo did not visit here until he was seven years of age.
A very important experience for Paolo was the time he spent in California after his studies, from August ’73 to March ’74. During this time, the Californian wineries were exploding with popularity. In contrary to what he was used to back home, the Californian winemakers were very open to changes and explorations. Winemakers talked to each other and shared their knowledge. They welcomed him with open arms and asked him about the traditions in Europe.
These many conversations helped him realize that change is important, but it is also essential to preserve the heart of the traditions that Tuscany has, because this is perceived as a true secret in the rest of the world. Qualities and beliefs that he still lives by today.
After finishing his studies in 1976, Paolo moved back to the Isole vineyard. At this time, the winery was close to bankruptcy and he had to find out how to change this. This was the start of his interesting journey that resulted in the quality wines that he proudly produces today.
About the Wine
When he stopped blending white grape varieties with his Sangiovese wines (which was mandatory for Chianti wines for a long time), Paolo started making a simple wine from the left-over grapes to sell to the distilleries. In the early 1980’s however, he realized that this was a waste and so he started producing his first Chardonnay. This first draft was a blend of several white grape varieties and though it was a decent wine, it was definitely not his priority.
In the year 1987, Paolo decided to plant a new vineyard with only the best vines. He had been tagging the vines that produced the best quality grapes for the last ten years and only used the vines that had more than five tags, proving the high quality of the new vineyard.
In order to get the planting rights for this new vineyard, one of the things he did was to get rid of most white grape varieties except the Chardonnay. In 1987, the first 100% Chardonnay was produced.
The elevation of the hills on which the vineyards are positioned, the cold nights and the soil (limestone) is excellent for producing a good quality Chardonnay. The demand for this Isole e Olena Chardonnay is growing rapidly, but there is only a small production (around 25,000 bottles yearly).
When you pour the wine into your glass, the wine displays a deep straw-yellow color. The true magic, however, starts when you lift the glass to your nose. You immediately notice the complexity and the many layers that make up this Chardonnay. Heavy, but with a surprising freshness. The medium aroma intensity shows notes of tropical ripe fruit, honey, brioche, butter and a mineral hint. In the mouth, you can feel the creaminess, the nice acidity and a little tingle from the alcohol in the back of your throat.
This 2021 shows great potential and would certainly benefit from aging a few more years. That being said it shows excellent balance between fresh acidity, roundness and structure, catering for excellent body. We award this Chardonnay with a 93 point DWA score.
Tuscany, a Journey through Five Lenses
This review is part of our project “Tuscany, a Journey through Five Lenses”. In this project we travel through one of the most exciting parts of Italy and show its different faces interpreted through leading wineries. We do this through wine reviews, background articles and interviews.
The regions we discuss are Tuscany IGP, Chianti, Bolgheri, Montepulciano and Montalcino. Isole Olena is our guide through the Chianti and Chianti Classico appellation.
Other wines by Isole e Olena in this project:
- Chianti Classico 2020
- Cepparello 2010
- Cepparello 2020
This wine is reviewed by our own Liza Verbeek.
Taste date: July 2023
Score: 93/100 DWA Score
Website: Isole e Olena