One of the most famous Super Tuscan, Ornellaia was started in 1981 by Ludocivo Antinori. Its vineyards were planted in the same year and after 4 years, the first vintage of Ornellaia was born in 1985. In 2005, it is fully owned by Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi.
Located in Bolgheri DOC, the prestigious appellation located in Maremma, Tuscany, where is known for Bordeaux grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Of course, Ornellaia is produced, as well, by these grape varieties. The cepage (grape variety; grape blending) varies each year depending on the vintage weather and production. To me, Ornellaia is always the most Bordeaux-like Super Tuscan with the herbaceous, especially the aromas of capsicum, dark fruits and spices.
Ornellaia, apart from making great wines continuously, added some artistic value to its OWC (original wooden case) packing from 2006 onwards. Like Mouton Rothschild, an artist is invited to design the label every year, but unlike Mouton Rothschild, there is only one bottle in the case of 6 comes with the art label! Plus a very limited numbers of large formats. Smart way to increase the volume, isn’t it?
And just like other Bordeaux wines, there is second and third wine for the winery. Le Serre Nuove, the second wine, is also made with the Bordeaux grapes, though from younger vines and undergoes shorter oak ageing. I quite like it for its freshness and silky texture.
The third wine, Le Volte, is something not quite like its elder brothers. It is Merlot-based with the supplement of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. Style-wise, it is not meant to be aged. As a daily drinking wine, it usually offers great fruits and some spice, not very tannic with reasonable finish.
Masseto, the single vineyard single varietal (100% Merlot), also named “Italian Petrus” used to be a very close sibling of Ornellaia. However, with the change of policies, they are now distant and I guess Masseto is more like a cousin to Ornellaia now. It could be a great move of Frescobaldi as the price-tag of Masseto is running sky-high and not in the same direction as Ornellaia. Ornellaia and the siblings are still the value choices!