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 then 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% used once. 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.
More than most vintages, 2019 was characterized by a highly variable climate, which alternated periods of cold and rain with long bouts of drought and heat. After a normal winter, the budding took place in the first week of April. The cold and rainy conditions throughout April and May significantly slowed down the vegetative vine growth, leading to a 10-day delay in flowering compared to the average. Very hot, rainless weather suddenly arrived in June, reaching temperature peaks of 37°C at the end of the month. The weather stayed warm and sunny throughout the summer with temperatures 2°C above average and 45 consecutive days without rain. The long dry period was interrupted by two days of rain in the last week of July, bringing the temperature back to the seasonal norm, with ideal conditions for ripening. The harvest began slowly on September 5th. As usual, the last week of September saw a lowering of temperatures which made it possible to preserve a great finesse and aromatic freshness. Sunny conditions returned after another rainy event on September 21st, which allowed us to conclude the harvest of the later ripening varieties on October 4th.
“With an intense ruby-red colour, Ornellaia 2019 has a bouquet full of intriguing spicy and balsamic notes, including aromas of black pepper, sage and aromatic herbs.The wine is both full-bodied and vibrant in the mouth, filling the palate with its dense and elegant tannic texture and ending with a persistent and beautifully crisp finish.”
Olga Fusari – Winemaker
“The 2019 Ornellaia is one of the most elegant wines I have ever tasted here. All the elements are so well-balanced. Dark and racy, with fabulous class and pedigree to burn, the 2019 is superb from the very first taste. Dark plum, mocha, new leather, licorice and spice build over time, but it is the wine’s stunning finesse that impresses most. The 2019 has the highest percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon since the 2002. That very much comes through in the wine’s vibrancy and aromatic presence.
97+ Points – Antonio Galloni
Charred caramel and liquorice aromatics, with sappy acidity accompanying generous olive tapenade, blackberry and raspberry fruits on the opening beats. Deceptively silky tannins, they are tactile and supple at first then close in through the mid palate, revealing a more serious Ornellaia with layers of graphite, savoury cassis, sage, bay leaf, underbrush and white truffle spices. A touch of sweet salted caramel returns after half an hour in the glass, this is well structured and will be giving its best after five or six years in bottle, and for several decades. A hot dry summer followed by cooler weather during harvest has given finesse and complexity, and a wine to savour. All varieties are aged separately for 12 months then blended and then put back in barrel for 6 months, followed by 12 months in bottle. 70% new oak. Director Axel Heinz, oenologist Olga Fusari”
97+ Points – Jane Anson
“Ornellaia 2019 seems to be a return to the past: we must go back to the 2002 vintage to find a blend of Ornellaia with more than 60% of Cabernet Sauvignon. In the 2019 there is 62% of it to be precise, with 31% of Merlot, 4% of Petit Verdot and 3% of Cabernet Franc. It’s a throwback which I like – compared, for example, with the Merlot-based 2018, even if it compensates the slightly lower proportion of Cabernet Franc. ‘The vintage was delayed by a cool and rainy spring with flowering 10 days later than average, but the harvest finished one week earlier,’ said Axel Heinz, managing director of Ornellaia. Despite the shorter growing season, 2019 was a powerful vintage with a dry and warm summer 2°C higher than the average. Ornellaia’s team defined it as ‘Il Vigore’, which refers to its strength. Restrained bramble fruits are enhanced by earthy tones, walnut husk and Mediterranean herbs, with a whiff of dry mushrooms and the first hint of balsamic notes. The attack is velvety with great mid-palate extraction. The tannins are very ripe and there’s a refreshing acidity, but what is to be underlined is the clear cut of this wine, its woven structure and the savoury energy on the finish, typical of the climate of Bolgheri.”
97 Points – Decanter, Aldo Fiordelli
“Intense colour and nose with alcohol and sweetness to the fore. High-toned nose and the sort of aromatic leafiness I associate with Cabernet Franc though at the time of writing that I had no idea what the assemblage was. When I tasted the wine at home it seemed really quite delicate – no heavy sweetness at all initially, though it developed a certain lusciousness with time. Finishes dry and neat with only a dusting of tannins. It would actually be perfectly possible to enjoy this young wine without food even at this early stage in its development. But when I tasted this wine a few days later in the context of the Bolgheri tasting on 24 February it seemed quite flashy and attention-grabbing compared with some of its peers. Very ripe, dramatic wine with no shortage of well-worked tannins underneath all that glam fruit. A hint of Napa? Very good winemaking and just the right side of overripe.”
17,5 points – Jancis Robinson
“This deeply hued, elegant red has enticing aromas suggesting ripe blackberries, juniper berries, purple flower and sandalwood. Firmly structured and boasting class and finesse, the palate is still young and austere, offering black cherries, currants, black pepper and tobacco. Tightly wound, fi ne-grained tannins and fresh acidity keep balanced. Drink 2029–2039.”
96 points – Wine Enthusiast, Kerin O’Keefe
Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy
62% Cabernet Sauvignon,
4% Petit Verdot
3% Cabernet Franc,