Region: Tuscany, Bolgheri
Grape Variety: 51% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot
Alcohol Percentage: 14.5%
Rating: 97 James Suckling | 96 Decanter | 95 Robert Parker Points
Climate: Semi-concealed in the foothills near Bolgheri, Ornellaia lies just a few kilometres from the Mediterranean coast. During the summer months, the cool sea breeze caresses the vineyards and nearby olive groves, while during the winter the hills provide protection from the cold north winds
Ageing: The clusters were hand-picked into 15 kg crates and then selected by hand on a double sorting table, before and after destemming, and finally softly crushed. In 2016, optical sorting has been introduced in addition to manual selection, in order to further increase the quality of selection. Each grape variety and single vineyard block were vinified separately. Fermentation took place in stainless steel and concrete tanks at temperatures between 26 and 30°C for one week, followed by maceration for about 15 days, for a total time in the vat of about three weeks. The malolactic fermentation took place mainly in oak barrels, 70% new and 30% once used. The wine then remained in barriques, in Ornellaia’s temperature-controlled cellars for about 18 months. After the first 12 months of maturation, the wine was assembled and then returned to the barriques for an additional 6 months. After bottling, the wine aged a further 12 months prior to release.
Color: Deep ruby red
Nose: Lively and intense aromatic expression with notes of red fruits, citrus, hints of liquorice and Mediterranean scrub
Palate: Enveloping palate with well-balanced tannins – both dense and silky in texture. The finish is lifted by a distinct tangy vein that enhances the sensation of freshness and persistence
About the Winery:
This prestigious winery was founded by Lodovico Antinori, a man of some pedigree in Tuscany and his aunt (wife to Marchese Mario, the man who at Sassicaia was responsible for beginning the Super-Tuscan movement). He began as a winemaker in California, but returned to his native homeland in 1981.
Having inherited a plot of marshy Maremma coastland from his mother, Antinori began creating his wines in the Super-Tuscan mould, eschewing native varieties like Sangiovese for those more typical of Bordeaux. He cultivated Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and released the first vintage of his flagship wine, Ornellaia, in 1985. The Merlot was planted as an experiment and in an effort to differentiate his estate from Sassicaia, the original Super-Tuscan where Lodovico Antinori’s brother Piero was a highly successful consultant.
The combination of Bolgheri’s unique soils and growing conditions, and what can only be characterized as a total obsession with excellence, resulted in the world-class wines that so many wine lovers across the world have come to cherish. In addition to its place among Italy’s iconic wines, Ornellaia is also an ambassador for the Bolgheri region, leading it to be recognized as one of Italy’s greatest winegrowing regions. It is their belief, and it is hard to argue, that Bolgheri’s mild maritime climate and diversity of soils create wines as distinct, complex and pleasurable as any in the world.