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2010 Isole e Olena, Cabernet Sauvignon Tuscany
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The Isola et Olena Estate, run by Paolo de Marchi, is yet another property that has seen a dramatic rise in quality over the last few decades. Paolo's family, originally from Piedmont, purchased the estate in the 1960s. His attention to detail in both the vineyard and the winery was the driving force that turned quality around.
The wines have Cepparello at their head, a barrique-aged Sangiovese classified as an IGT - because at the time of its creation in the 1980s a wine comprising 100% Sangiovese could not legally be labelled as Chianti. There is a Chianti Classico and a Vin Santo, as well as some excellent wines from the Collezione de Marchi label, including a Syrah called Eremo, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Chardonnay
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.