Decanter's Mark O'Halleron reports on vertical tasting of Isole e Olena at The Ledbury in London
Unquestionably one of Tuscany’s most revered estates, it was appropriate that this impressive tasting of Isole e Olena took place at one of the United Kingdom’s most talked about restaurants – two Michelin-starred The Ledbury.
Isole e Olena was originally two hilltop estates in separate hamlets. Located 450m above sea level, it now comprises 50 hectares of vineyards.
Led by its oenologist, Paolo de Marchi (who took over the reins in 1976), this tasting explored a raft of vintages, concentrating on its IGT Toscana wines with a brace of beautiful Vin Santos to conclude. Punctuating the Tuscan theme, was a pair of Nebbiolos, from de Marchi’s own estate in Piedmont, land that had always been in the family, but has now been reinvigorated after abandonment following World War II
Isole e Olena, Collezione de Marchi Chardonnay, IGT Toscana 2009
Barrel fermented with a significant turn on the lees, this offers a fragrant, sweetly spiced nose, with notes of banana, melon and pear. Shows roundness and texture in the mouth, further sweet oak notes, nuts and touches of pineapple. Serious stuff with some warmth on the finish.
Isole e Olena, Collezione de Marchi Chardonnay, IGT Toscana 1999
Golden hue. Robust and muscular nose, oaky certainly with a menthol hint, alongside spice and pineapple. Candied edges to the palate, with honeycomb flavours. Perhaps a touch disjointed now as the alcohol persists and comes through as the palate evolves.
Proprieta Sperino, DOC Lessona, Piedmont 2007
Young, taut, sour cherry nose with charcoal shavings. Light and crunchy, full of cranberry and redcurrant. Juicy, brisk and plenty of youthful, Nebbiolo appeal.
Proprieta Sperino, DOC Lessona, Piedmont 2006
Adolescent, too, with pencil lead/asphalt-like undertones. But this is nonetheless sleek and crisp, showing many, immediately rewarding aspects among its attractive, breezy, ripe, red berry fruits.
Isole e Olena, Cepparello, IGT Toscana 2007
A wine that’s barely walking, this has plenty of years ahead of it. Lovely Sangiovese crunch and perfume. With cassis edges, a tarry underbelly, and further tangy, bright red fruits on the mid-palate.
Isole e Olena, Cepparello, IGT Toscana 2006
Pure and concentrated with an almost liqueur-ish intensity on the nose, and a sprinkling of charcoal dust and pepper. Lithe and polished; tannins certainly still present, but there’s more than enough fruit to match them. A serious wine, with a breezy air.
Isole e Olena, Cepparello, IGT Toscana 2001
Sour cherry accompanied by tarry hints. Spiced redcurrants in the mouth, but a young, rather ‘shy’ wine that’s rather reticent at the moment.
Isole e Olena, Cepparello, IGT Toscana 1997
Has aged gently in its ten years, displaying leathery, tannery notes underneath a layer of dried cherry and chocolate. Yet, this still boasts plenty of sweet fruit on show, bringing a lovely balance and complexity.
Isole e Olena, Cepparello, IGT Toscana 1993
Beguiling and alluring. Almost velvety texture in the mouth, with a core of sumptuous red fruits. Carries itself with grace and no little charm, framed with firm tannins. Classy and impeccably aged.
Isole e Olena, Cepparello, IGT Toscana 1990
Despite on the cusp of its 21st birthday, this possesses a nose resplendent with vibrant crushed raspberry and summer fruit coulis notes. Slender in structure, it has a range of gently spiced, dried red fruit flavours, augmented by fine , but certainly firm, tannins. Retains a charm, but perhaps past its golden age.
Isole e Olena, Collezione de Marchi Cabernet Sauvignon, IGT Toscana 2001
Seductive and lush with a core of ripe cherries and currants. Hugely attractive, feminine and refined, showing some countering medicinal tones on the mid-palate.
Isole e Olena, Collezione de Marchi Cabernet Sauvignon, IGT Toscana 1998
Touch closed and compact, certainly in relation to the ‘01, but carries a cool, refreshing air, with leafy blackcurrant notes and menthol highlights.
Isole e Olena, Vin Santo 2003
High-toned nose, rich in dried fruit, marmalade and salted nut aromas. Utterly delicious; intense and crammed with flavour – raisins, figs, orange peel – but relatively light on its feet with cracking freshness.
Isole e Olena, Vin Santo 1995
Less powerful than its 2003 sister, but still brings plenty to the table. Mouth-filling flavours of dried citrus, vanilla and white flowers. Delicious in its own way.
Written by Mark O’Halleron