Paolo de Marchi respects his ancestors, but insists history is written by those who dare to innovate. As one of the great winemakers of Chianti Classico at Isole e Olena, he's certainly been a transformative figure in Italy, where he was among the first in the '70s to insist on using more sangiovese when others were blending 30 percent white grapes into the famous Tuscan "red." His Classico, now 82 percent sangiovese with red canaiolo and syrah, is a benchmark for the class, a brilliant balance beam of cherry and earthy mushroom. Cepparello, an IGT (made outside traditional guidelines) is a pure ode to Sangiovese - and another level of special altogether. Made since 1980 from old vineyards overlooking the river that shares its name, it is both powerful and velveteen, with a ripe backbone of tart cherries shaded by darker fruit, minerals, and anise. "Classico?" Technically not - but definitely an Italian classic.
- Craig LaBan
Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2010, $27 (750 ml); Cepparello 2008, $75, at all Moore Bros. stores, including Pennsauken (888-686-6673.)