2014 Ornellaia, Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy
Monica Larner - 28/04/2017
About this WINE
Tenuta dell’Ornellaia is located in one of the world’s most exciting wine regions: Bolgheri. A breathtaking avenue lined by towering cypress trees leads inland from the Aurelia, the old Roman coastal road, up to the walls of Bolgheri’s medieval hamlet. From the village the view extends far out to sea and on a clear day the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago and Corsica can be seen.
The mild maritime climate and the lush Mediterranean vegetation leave an imprint upon the character of the wines. Tenuta dell’Ornellaia's unique territory guides all aspects of production: limited quantities to ensure maximum quality, attention to every detail, selective hand harvesting, microvinification and ageing.
Ornellaia is a Cabernet/Merlot wine blend. Masseto is made entirely from Merlot - it is a model of rich, silky elegance and has rapidly become a modern classic.
Bolgheri is a new DOC in the coastal Maremma region which first rose to prominence during the 1970s with the emergence of the so-called Super Tuscan wines like Ornellaia and Sassicaia. These new ventures had rocked the DOC establishment by using high proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon, opting out of the DOC system and relabeling their wines as simply Vino da Tavola (table wine).
Having won universal acclaim and exchanging hands for unprecedented prices (higher even than Tuscany's finest examples), the authorities relented and awarded Bolgheri its own DOC. The actions of the Super Tuscans inspired a generation in Italy, even if some of the wines here have lost a little of their lustre since.
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.
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To be released in May 2017, the 2014 Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia reverts to a style and personality that we have not seen in a long while. The wine shows a tight, silky and determined approach that reminds us of the Ornellaias made under the estate's previous ownership with the Marchese Lodovico Antinori in the mid-1990s. More than anything else, this has to do with the very unique characteristics of the 2014 growing season. The wine opens to a beautifully saturated and dark appearance. Thanks to the advanced age of the vines and their extensive root systems, fruit quality was well preserved despite the cool summer and late harvest. The wine shows sweet fruit nuances with blackberry and dark currant. Spice, leather and tobacco fill in the rear. The finish reveals just enough of that acidic prickle to assure an easy ten or fifteen year drinking window.
Monica Larner - 28/04/2017
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