2009 Isole e Olena Cepparello Toscana Rosso
Expert Ratings
RP 95 points
RP 95 points
(Read the full reviews below)
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Isole e Olena The Advocate's 95pt Tuscan Wine of the Vintage

At least once per year since 1990, we've traveled to Tuscany. We begin our cellar-hopping trips just south of Florence, then veer out toward the sun-drenched coast before closing in on Montalcino. While Tuscan vintages have long been somewhat of a crapshoot, when conditions are just right the region's Sangioveses offer some of the most ethereal wine-drinking experiences on the planet, marrying Bordelais opulence with Burgundian elegance.

As nearly every critic in the world has now written, 2009 is one of those vintages.

In April 2011, we were seated in the kitchen at Isole e Olena. Marta De Marchi was putting the finishing touches on her vegetable risotto, sprinkling grated aged Reggiano, then generously drizzling the cold-pressed Isole e Olena olive oil all over. Paolo had gone to the cellar to pick out bottles, returning with a 1996 Elio Grasso Barolo Casa Matè, 2005 Barmès-Buecher Riesling Hengst, and 2010 Almondo Arneis Bricco delle Ciliegie. But before we dove in, Paolo offered, "Would you like to try this first?"

The bottle had no front or back label — just a plain green Burgundy bottle, the cork already pulled. Paolo poured the mystery wine into Zalto Universals. The color was dark ruby. The nose was lush and primary, a stunning mix of black raspberries and cherries, plush and suave — like a ripe vintage of Clos Vougeot, touched with Tuscan rusticity.

"Ok, we give up. What is it?" we asked, heaping spoonfuls of colorful risotto onto white plates.

Paolo shrugged, breaking out the charming smile that's melted dining rooms from Singapore to Restaurant Daniel. "2009 Cepparello. Out of barrel. What do you think?"

The recently released 2009 Cepparello may well be the finest Sangiovese ever crafted by the most revered winegrower in Tuscany. By the time we finished our second helpings of risotto, Paolo had explained why.

"The key to 2009 wasn't the hot summer, but the winter," Paolo said as he poured Almondo's Arneis. "The critics mostly talk about the hot, dry summer. But the key to the harvest of 2009 was the winter of 2008. We had record rainfall in December and January, making for a high water table. Many of the young vines suffered from hydric stress, but the old vines of Cepparello, with their deep roots, never felt a thing. This is a great vintage of Cepparello. Maybe my best."

We tasted this glorious Sangiovese one more time before bottling. The Wine Advocate wasn't far behind, reviewing the 2009 Cepparello twice — each time coming in at a lusty 95 points. Parker's Advocate called this one "gorgeous ... clearly one of the wines of the vintage,"describing "layers of dark red fruit, flowers and mint (that) build to the rich, intense finish." Then he reminded readers of what's always the case with great vintages of Cepparello, suggesting that the 2009 Cepparello will be hitting its peak sometime in 2029!!

Tasting Notes

2009 Isole e Olena Cepparello Toscana Rosso
"The 2009 Cepparello, usually one of the more restrained wines in Tuscany, is huge in this vintage. It blasts onto the palate with tons of richness, power and depth. The 2009 clearly needs time to come together, but is immensely promising. Layers of dark red fruit, flowers and mint build to the rich, intense finish. An attractive high-toned floral register develops in the glass and balances the wine's more overt leanings. The 2009 desperately cries for at least a few years of cellaring, after which it should drink well to age 20, and likely beyond. The integration of fruit, acidity and oak is fabulous. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2029."
95 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

"The 2009 Cepparello is gorgeous. It brings together the radiance and ripeness of a warmer year with the medium-bodied structure of a cooler vintage. Today the 2009 is a bit reticent and appears headed for a period of dormancy. From time to time hints of its ultimate potential come through in attractive layers of dark red fruit. The rich, textured finish bodes well for the future. Paolo De Marchi describes 2009 as a year with a cold spring and a hot summer that also brought hail in early August. The 2009 Cepparello is clearly one of the wines of the vintage"
95 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate


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