French investment group EPI, which is owned by the Descours family and run by Christofer Descours, has acquired Isole e Olena, one of the most celebrated estates in Chianti Classico, for an undisclosed price.
EPI has owned the historic Biondi-Santi Greppo property in Montalcino since 2017.
Founded in 1956 by the De Marchi family, in San Donato in Poggio, Isole e Olena is one of the most prominent firms in Chianti Classico. Under the guidance of winemaker Paolo de Marchi, who has been at the helm since the mid-1970s, the family-owned estate became a pioneer in producing quality wines in Chianti Classico.
De Marchi was among the first to make fine wine entirely with Sangiovese in the area. The firm’s barrique-aged Cepparello, made with old Sangiovese vines and first produced in 1980, quickly became one of Tuscany’s most iconic reds. It fell outside of the outdated production regulations of the time that didn’t allow 100% Sangiovese in Chianti Classico, and so Cepparello became part of the acclaimed wines once known as Super Tuscans and now regulated as IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica). Isole e Olena also makes sleek, fragrant Chianti Classico from high-altitude vineyards as well as wines made with Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Vin Santo.
Fans of Isole e Olena will be pleased to know that there are no plans to change the firm’s lauded style that focuses on finesse and longevity.
“We’re thrilled to be working alongside Paolo who will be staying on for a time as winemaker and who will help us prepare for the winery’s next chapter,” says Giampiero Bertolini, CEO of Biondi-Santi and now of Isole e Olena, too. “The vineyards are already absolutely perfect, and we’ll be investing in the new cellar that Paolo already started.”
Bertolini adds that the transaction took two-and-a-half years to complete.
“It was a long courtship, and we’re extremely happy with the outcome. Paolo de Marchi and his wines are outstanding and we’re excited to have another top expression of Sangiovese from another area alongside our Brunellos and Rosso from Montalcino, as well as IGT reds and a great white.”
Paolo De Marchi, who has five siblings, is equally satisfied.
“We’re a big family, and seeing that I’m now almost 71 and none of my siblings or our children are interested in working at the winery, selling the estate was the best way to guarantee continuity and the future of Isole e Olena,” says Paolo.
It’s bittersweet, he says. “Isole e Olena isn’t just part of my life, it is my life. But I’m happy and comforted to know that the estate will be in the hands of a team of Italian wine professionals who share my values and who will be able to continue to bring Isole e Olena to even greater heights.”
Paolo also owns an estate in Piedmont along with his son, Luca, Proprietà Sperino in Lessona that is not part of the transaction.
“After the initial adjustment period, I’ll be able to spend more time in Lessona, where Luca, who runs Proprietà Sperino, will be able to benefit from my experience and support,” he says.