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View from Castiglioncello on Ornellaia

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.

The Wine Cellars of the Tenuta dell' Ornellaia

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.

Ornellaia Climate; in the Clouds: Castiglioncello

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.

Steel Tanks of Ornellaia

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 Climate Bellaria of Ornellaia

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.

Barrel Cellar of Ornellaia

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.

Entrance Hall of the Ornellaia Wine cellars

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.

Massetto Barrel Cellar

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.

Bottling System of Ornellaia

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.

Degustation at Ornellaia

Bottle Samples:


Le Volte igt 2005
50% Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, kept in barriques, which have been used for two years, for ten months.
Red berry, some spicy tobacco, a hint of caramel and slight liquorice tones. In the mouth red fruit with good acidity and fine tannin.
400,000 bottles

Le Serre Nuove dell'Ornellaia Bolgheri Rosso 2004
40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot, kept for 18 months in 30% new and 70% once-used barriques.
Deep cherry red. In the nose dark fruit, some blackberry, forest berries, a hint of chocolate, very fine and deep, great sweetness. In the mouth full, at the same time very elegant, spice notes, blackberry, some sweet pepper (capsicum), pepper and light caramel tones. Soft, fine acidity and a nice sweetness. Long-lasting, in the aftertaste ripe, cherry-like fruit like the pulp near the stone. Good balance. Already fine, but can keep well for ten years.
150,000 bottles

Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore 2004
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, kept for 24 months in 70% new and 30% once-used barriques.
A bit darker than the Serre Nuove. In the nose fine powder tones. Red fruit, great sweetness, some sweet pepper (capsicum). Still a bit closed. In the mouth full with great tannin, ripe and firm, also nice, strong acidity. Red fruit, some forest berry, red and black currant and pepper. Fine wood note, some liquorice. Very long finish. Elegant, perfectly balanced wine with strength and deepness. Very young. Great Ornellaia vintage. Hide it in your cellar and slowly start looking for it in ten years!
150,000 bottles

Nikolai Vogel Degustating Ornellaia

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