Tenuta Ornellaia operates in the Bolgheri region, an area of the Tuscan Coast dedicated to viticulture and known for wines made from international grape varieties. Founded at the dawn of the 1980s by Lodovico Antinori – cousin of the Marquis Piero – after some events the company was taken over by Marchesi Frescobaldi. Ornellaia immediately set out on the path of excellence, connecting with the Bolgheri region in an indissoluble bond.
The Frescobaldi family have been winemakers for over 700 years and have always tried to highlight the diversity of each terroir, while at the same time keeping the identity of each wine estate owned. This is even more true today, as they are paying the utmost attention, among other things, to environmental sustainability, a present commitment and over all a long term one. Everything has the aim of enhancing every detail of the terroir, an essential viaticum in producing quality wines, while always respecting the environment.
The vineyards of Ornellaia are split into many small plots, in order to show their character, in consistency with the vintage. The vineyards are planted at high density, with an average of 6,600 vines per hectare. In this way, the plants roots compete with each other for water and nutrients. The soils are quite mixed in texture and formation. The rows range from the sea level to the hills on land once covered by the sea, with sandy substrates, marls and marine fossils together mixed with solis of alluvial origin, formed by calcareous clays and pebbles, or of volcanic origin wich arerich in minerals, such as potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium.
The Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia 2020, that we tasted, is made from Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (32%), Cabernet Franc (13%) and Petit Verdot (5%) grapes. After the mild and rainy winter of the 2020 vintage, at the end of March there was a drop in temperatures, even below 0°C, right at the beginning of budding. Still protected by the buds, the new shoots avoided damage. The spring continued with regular vegetative growth and flowering took place in late May. After mid-June rainfalls, a dry period began with hot and dry weather until the end of August, despite that the veraison was even apparent at theend of July. Late August rainfalls resulted in a drop in temperature until 13°C, being ideal conditions for Merlot to be harvested at the desired ripeness. The following heat wave increased the sugar content and made it necessary to harvest the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the youngest vineyards from mid-September. The rainfalls at the end of the month rebalanced the climatic conditions, and the end of the harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot happenedat the beginning of October.
During harvesting, the finest bunches were picked by hand and placed in 15 kg crates; then they were selected on a double sorting table before and after destemming. In addition to manual selection, the bunches are also subject to optical sorting. In this way, the yield per hectare does not exceed 65 quintals. Each grape variety and fruit from each plot were gently pressed and vinified separately. The alcoholic fermentation took place, partly in stainless steel vats and partly in concrete vats at controlled temperatures between 26°C and 30°C for a week. Post fermentation maceration lasted for 15 days. The malolactic fermentation took place in oak barrels (70% new and 30% second- filling). The wine was aged in barriques at a temperature-controlled for about one a half years. After the first 12 months , the blending was carried out, and the wine could go back into the barriques where it spent the last 6 months. The wine matured in the bottle for 12 months before being placed on the market.
Let’s move on to the tasting of Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia 2020
The wine seduces the eye with its deep ruby colour. Its olfactory spectrum is detailed in berry aromas such as ripe blueberry, mixed with hints of dark spices, graphite, followed by blond tobacco, roasted coffee, forest floor and delicate balsamic notes. In the mouth, the taste is dense and energetic, supported by a very fine-grained tannic texture and a vibrant fresh-savoury path that lasts long on the spicy finish.
An exciting wine, still very young, which certainly will be able to express itself betterin the next years. A sample that can be immediately appreciated paired with meat-based dishes.