Tasting Reviews

A Tasting of Ornellaia

The Ornellaia Estate produces some of the world’s most reputable wines. Based in the Bolgheri district of Tuscany, Ornellaia follows the lead of Sassicaia in making Bordeaux-styled wines of the highest quality. Established by Lodovico Antinori in 1981, Ornellaia produced its first vintage in 1985. The estate is 99 ha with approx. 40 ha of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, 12 ha of Cabernet Franc and 7 ha of Petit Verdot, with small plantings of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Petit Manseng. ‘Ornellaia’ is the flagship wine with a production of 12,500 dozen made, the second being ‘Le Serre Nuove’ with 18,500 cases, and the estate makes ‘Le Volte’ Merlot-blend with purchased fruit in addition to its own, with around 45,800 dozen. There is also a 2,500 case cult wine ‘Massetto’, made from 100% Merlot from a 7 ha section of the estate, plus a white, ‘Poggio slle Gazze’, aong other limited bottlings, as well as grappa and olive oil.

Robert Mondavi Winery took an interest in Ornellaia in 1999, becoming full owners by 2002, but upon Mondavi being acquired by Constellation, sold in 2005 to Frescobaldi who had become partners in the meantime. Axel Heinz is the winemaker with Michel Rolland as consultant. www.ornellaia.com

Patrick Lachapele - Ornellaia

The Tasting
Patrick Lachapele, Ornellaia’s Asia-Pacific area manager was in Wellington to conduct Ornellaia’s first official tasting in New Zealand, with a selection of wines, including the yet-to-be released 2014 vintage of Ornellaia. I was privileged to be in a small group of trade and media invitees to attend the tasting, held at Boulcott Street Bistro. Here are my notes on the wines served.

White Wine
Poggio alle Gazze dell’ Ornellaia Toscana IGT 2015
Bright pale straw-yellow colour with slight green hues. The nose is tightly bound and shy in expression with subtle aromas of green stonefruits and herbs and white floral elements. This is elegant and stylish. Dry to taste, the palate is crisp and finely concentrated with flavour of green stonefruits, herbs and minerals. The mouthfeel has clarity and is thirst-quenching, flowing seamlessly and with linearity. A very good aperitif style, 2-3 years. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, Verdicchio and Viognier, fermented in oak and vats to 13.5% alc., the wine aged on lees with batonnage. 17.5/20 Feb 2017 RRP $N/A

Secondary Red Wine
Le Volte dell’ Ornellaia Toscana 2014
Dark, deep ruby-red colour with garnet edge. The nose is rounded with a firm and densely packed core of ripe, dark-red and plum berry fruit along with savoury elements and some earthiness, unfolding jammy whole berry fermentation suggestions. The palate is elegantly proportioned and tight in expression with dark-red berry fruits entwined with herb notes. The fruit is quite primary, and the mouthfeel fresh and crisp with light tannin extraction and lively acidity. This has vigour and youth. An elegant wine with fruit to the fore. 4-5 years. A blend of 70% Merlot and 15% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese, the wine aged 10 months in oak and tank. 17.0+/20 Feb 2017 RRP $50.00

Le Serre Nuove dell’ Ornellaia Bolgheri DOC 2014
Deepish red with garnet hues on the edge. The nose is very elegant with fragrant red fruits melded with cedary and spicy oak. This has finesse and intensity, and has beauty. The palate is very elegantly presented with tightly bound red fruits and cedary oak flavours. The tannins are very refined and powdery, and the acidity soft, resulting in a smooth structure. With aeration, the tannins and acidity become more prominent, but the wine finished with good fruit richness and succulence. This appears youthful. 5-6 years. A blend 50% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot, from younger vines, approx. 15 y.o., the wine aged 15 months total in 25% new oak. 17.5+/20 Feb 2017 RRP $100.00

Le Serre Nuovo dell’ Ornellaia Bolgheri DOC 2007 
Very dark, deep, black-hued red, near impenetrable with brick on edge. This has a full, solid and deeply packed nose of black berried fruits, with dark herbs and savoury secondary elements. This has size, power and plenty of fruit reserve to keep. Fulsome on palate, with considerable structure, the fruit matches the extract with ripe dark berry and plum flavours, maybe a hint of sur maturite, but bold and succulent. The acidity still lends fresh energy. A very satisfying, mouthfilling wine with some complexing development. Another 6-8+ years possible. A blend of 40% each Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, the wine aged 15 months total in 25% new oak. 18.5+/20 Feb 2017 RRP $N/A

Ornellaia Bolgheri DOC 2014
Dark, deep, ruby-red with good depth, and slight garnet on rim. The nose is very elegant, but with a firm, fresh core of blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Stylish and ripe, with fragrance and lifted oak elements. Very finely bound and tight, somewhat shy on plate, but with building intensity of blackberry, cassis liqueur and aromatic oak lift. The tannins are refined and the acidity in excellent fresh balance. This has sufficient grip and concentration to make it serious. The wine flows smoothly and carries to a lusciously long finish of finesse. A wonderful effort in a challenging vintage. 9-10+ years aging ahead. A blend of 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% each Merlot and Petit Verdot, and 7% Cabernet Franc, the wine aged 18 months in predominantly new oak. 18.5-/20 Feb 2017 RRP $TBA

Ornellaia Bolgheri DOC 2013
Very dark, black-red colour, impenetrable, still youthful. The nose is very full and densely concentrated with very ripe black plum and blackberry fruit, the sweetness and ripeness quite remarkably poised without excess. Very powerfully presented with considerable fruit sweetness and richness, the fruit well-ripened, showing blackberry, plum and nuances of boysenberry nd casss liqueur. The palate is plush and near unctuous, and supported by very fine-grained tannin extraction. The palate has a surprisingly velvety flow for the power and dimension. Very fine acidity underlines the fruit and structure still. Wonderful wine that will keep a decade plus. A blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot, the wine aged 18 months in 70% new oak. 19.0/20 Feb 2017 RRP $295.00

Ornellaia Bolgheri DOC 2005
Dark, deep, black-hued red with some bricking on rim. The bouquet I very firm and solid with deeply packed aromas of black fruits melded with savoury secondary game and earth notes, and a little funkiness. Fulsome on palate with mouthfilling black berried and plummy fruits, this has complexing layers of liquorice, savoury game, earth, dried herbs and nuances of tertiary funkiness. The palate has sweetness and plenty of weight and presence, with matching structure and density. The tannins are beginning to resolve. The savoury meat and game flavours grow on the finish. Fully complex and still with much to carry it on. Another 6-8+ years. A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot, the wine aged 18 months in 70% new oak. 18.5+/20 Feb 2017 RRP $N/A

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