Since its inception, Ornellaia’s production has been influenced and inspired by the Mediterranean character of the coast near Bolgheri. Founded in 1981, Ornellaia has helped establishing this relatively young viticultural area and it is now regarded as one of the world’s most iconic estates.
Nestled in the foothills near Bolgheri, Ornellaia lies just a few kilometres from the Mediterranean coast. During the summer months, the cool sea breeze caresses the vineyards and nearby olive groves, while during the winter the hills provide protection from the cold north winds. Ornellaia believes that a wine should be the most authentic expression of the terroir from which it originates. The 115ha of vineyards benefit from a unique combination of maritime climate and a complex mosaic of marine, alluvial and volcanic soils – creating a distinct environment where red and white varieties can best express themselves.
The clusters were hand-picked into 15 kg crates and then selected by hand on a double sorting table, before and after destemming, and finally softly crushed. In 2016, optical sorting has been introduced in addition to manual selection, in order to further increase the quality of selection. Each grape variety and single vineyard block were vinified separately. Fermentation took place in stainless steel and concrete tanks at temperatures between 26 and 30°C for one week, followed by maceration for about 15 days, for a total time in the vat of about three weeks. The malolactic fermentation took place mainly in oak barrels, 70% new and 30% once used. The wine then remained in barriques, in Ornellaia’s temperature-controlled cellars for about 18 months. After the first 12 months of maturation, the wine was assembled and then returned to the barriques for an additional 6 months. After bottling, the wine aged a further 12 months prior to release.
After several years in which winter seemed to be little more than a memory, 2018 brought a return to normal climatic conditions, with temperatures spending enough time below zero for the vines to begin their well-deserved winter rest. The spring will be remembered as one of the wettest in history, with three times the seasonal average rainfall and high temperatures in April. Despite late budbreak, the weather conditions and rapid growth of the shoots enabled the vines to catch up and bloom a week earlier than anticipated. For the entire month of May and – to a lesser extent – June, rainfall remained above average and it was only in July that we received some respite, with a warm and dry month. Veraison took place between the 22nd and 25th of July, and August was as hot as it had been the previous year, but slightly wetter. The sugars and acidity developed slowly, while the berries grew to larger dimensions thanks to the high level of water present in the soil. September was warm and dry. Temperatures were higher than the seasonal average, but cooler nights enabled the vines to recover and preserve the aromas and acidity. The red grape harvest began on the 31st of August with the Merlot and ended on the 8th of October with the later-ripening varieties.
“With its usual deep ruby-red colour, Ornellaia 2018 features a lively and intense aromatic expression, a distinctive mark of the vintage. Red fruits, citrus notes, hints of liquorice and Mediterranean scrub combine to form its profile. With the first taste it is enveloping and all its components well-balanced: the tannins, both dense and silky in texture, fill the palate with elegance and precision. The finish is lifted by a distinct tangy vein that enhances the sensation of freshness and persistence.”
Olga Fusari – Winemaker
“The 2018 Ornellaia is an introvert at this stage. Medium in body, with terrific persistence and impeccable balance, the 2018 is not in any mood to show all its cards today. Hints of red berry fruit, mocha, spice, licorice and dried flowers emerge with a bit of coaxing. I won’t be surprised to see it put on weight with more time in bottle. There is certainly plenty to look forward to. Readers should expect a silky, aromatic Ornellaia in line with vintages such as 2004 that are more about finesse than raw power. This is the first time in which Merlot drives the blend in Ornellaia.”
97 Points – Antonio Galloni
“So aromatic and complex with blackcurrants, blueberries, fresh violets and lavender on the nose. Some graphite and iodine, too. Medium to full body with firm, chewy tannins that are polished and refined, yet the palate is so long and refined. This is an Ornellaia with strength in elegance. Try after 2025.”
97 Points – James Suckling
Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy
40% Cabernet Sauvignon,
7% Cabernet Franc,
2% Petit Verdot