Isole e Olena owner Paolo di Marchi -- whose 1997 Toscana Cepparello was rated No. 3 in Wine Spectator's Top 100 wines of 1999 -- is looking back to his family's winemaking roots in Piedmont.
Although di Marchi, 49, achieved renown for making top "super Tuscan" reds, his family originated in Piedmont, Italy's other famed red wine region. His family produced wine there until the 1960s and still owns an estate in the Lessona Denominazione di Origine Controllata appellation, in the province of Biella, northeast of Turin.
Di Marchi recently decided to restore the family property, called Villa Sperino, and bought out his brother's share in the estate. He will be using the old winery, which is still fully equipped, but he is replanting the 17 acres of vines with Nebbiolo, the region's noble red grape, as well as some Vespolina, a red grape used for blending. The wine, which will consist of 85 percent Nebbiolo and 15 percent Vespolina, will be labeled as Lessona DOC.
The as-yet-unnamed brand, which will be marketed in the United States, will not reach stores for another six or seven years. Di Marchi said that he aims to produce about 2,500 to 3,330 cases annually.
"Apart from the challenge of making a good wine, I really feel enthusiastic about this project, which is taking me back to my family roots," said di Marchi. "In fact, our Cepparello label is actually based on a copy of the original Villa Sperino label."
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