The Tenuta dell'Ornellaia is – San Guido excepted - the most famous wine estate of the region and owns magnificent climates. It was founded by Lodovico Antinori in 1981. The wine cellars, built with a leafy flat roof in the futuristic style of the eighties, looks rather like a research facility or a military command centre from the outside. But hidden inside is one of the biggest and most modern wine-making complexes of Bolgheri. It is being further enlarged at the moment.
During the past years, Ornellaia went through a changeful history concerning its owners. Antinori first gave some shares to the Californian wine company Mondai, which eventually bought the whole business and later sold half of it to the Tuscan wine house Frescobaldi, which already had pursued the joint venture of "Luce" together with Mondai. Mondavi and Fresobaldi founded the Tenute di Toscan as an operating company. In 2005, Frecobaldi adopted all shares, so Ornellaia is now in the hands of a single owner again.
Despite all this financial see-saw, wine-growing hasn't been neglected. The crop is examined very closely before processing. Since the difficult year of 2002, there have even been two sorting tables. At the first one, unacceptable - because not matured enough - or mouldy grapes are removed. After removing the stems, close attention is paid to make sure that only ripe and healthy grapes remain at the other sorting table.
The Tenuta dell'Ornellaia grows vines on 97 hectares (240 acres). There are the Bordeaux vine varieties of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The Ornellaia comes from two different climates. The first one is adjacent to the wine estate above the Via Bolgherese, the second one directly north of Bolgheri, near the famous cypress avenue. This pleasant hill climate is named "Bellaria" and is distinguished by the steady winds from the sea, which keeps the grapes drier and avoids mouldiness.
The different hill sites are processed separately according to the different grape varieties. After that, the young wine is transferred into the barriques. Ornellaia and Serre Nuove are stored together in a big barrel cellar. About sixty different batches lie there, stored according to climate and grape variety. Only after at least one year of maturing in the barrel the decision is made which barrels are going to be part of the Ornellaia and which ones of the Serre Nuove. After the blending of the batches, the Ornellaia matures for one further year in barrique, the Serre Nuove for six months. For the Ornellaia about 70% of new barrels and 30% of once used ones are applied. With the Serre Nuove its exactly the other way round.
Le Volte is the only wine of the wine estate which also consists - besides the Bordeaux grape varieties – Tuscany's main grape variety. The wine estate buys the Sangiovese grapes from other estates of Morellino di Scansano. The Le Volte stays in barriques, which were used twice beforehand, for 10 months. It is already good to drink when it gets on the market.
The famous Merlot Massetto is processed separately in one cellar room of its own. There also is the "library" with bottles of older climates of the wine estate. It stays there in barriques for two years. In good years, about 33,000 bottles are produced.
The wine cellar of Ornellaia is highly modern, and the Ornellaia itself a trade mark product. In the high performance bottle filling complex up to 5,000 bottles can be filled per day. But in order not to stretch that limit, the Tenuta fills 4,000 per day at most. So the Massetto of one vintage can be bottled within one day. This is to guarantee that the differences between every single bottle are minimised.
One is very pleased with the vintage of 2004. Well-balanced, delicious, complex. Every detail is right. For the 2006 one expects a similar success.
Le Volte igt 2005
Le Serre Nuove dell'Ornellaia Bolgheri Rosso 2004
Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore 2004