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My friend Chris came over for dinner the other night, which provided the perfect opportunity to pop open a 1997 Isole e Olena Cepparello. Chris worked at this Tuscan estate years ago, and I spent a month in Tuscany in 1997, which turned out to be a glorious vintage. I visited and tasted with Isole e Olena owners Paolo and Marta Di Marchi and liked their 1997 so much that I stocked up on it when it came out, as it fit my style and budget; I found it for about $35 a bottle and bought a case.
The 1997 Cepparello is made entirely of Sangiovese; the Di Marchis blend tradition with innovation, aging this wine in small oak barrels. This bottle was spot on (better than some of my experiences), a wine of grace and finesse, with subtle, complex, earthy-minerally cherry and anise flavors woven together, supported by crisp acidity and firm tannins. 90 points, non-blind.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review and find the current auction price for Isole e Olena Toscana Cepparello 1997 (96, $38 on release).
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