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, 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 21 months prior to release.
After a mild and rainy winter, there was a temporary drop in temperatures in March with a few nights below 0°C at the very start of the budding in the last week of the month. Fortunately, the newly opened shoots were still protected by the cottony tissue of the bud and were not damaged by the frost. The rest of spring had generally warm weather with normal rainfall that ensured regular growth until flowering, which took place on average between 20 and 25 May. There was an intense rainy period in the middle of June, followed by a very long dry period with a virtual absence of rain and torrid temperatures until the end of August. The véraison was even and quick between 20 and 25 July, with the grapes beginning to ripen under a blazing sun.
Rains arrived at the end of August, resulting in a significant drop in temperatures, falling as low as 13°C at night, and creating the ideal conditions for completing the ripening of the Merlot grapes. They were harvested in just two weeks to preserve maximum freshness and fruitiness, just in time to avoid a sudden week-long heatwave during which the thermometer registered temperatures of up to 37 degrees, sending sugar content soaring for all the varieties still to be harvested. This led to begin harvesting Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from young vines as early as 17 September. Towards the end of September, a passing burst of rain finally brought the climatic conditions back to normal, and the water absorbed by the grapes lowered the alcohol content to normal values, allowing the estate to complete the Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot harvest on 3 October.
““With its usual deep ruby red colour, Ornellaia 2020 stands out on the nose with ripe red fruits and delicate vanilla and gentle tobacco notes. Upon tasting, the wine reveals itself to be rounded and velvety, making an enjoyable and engaging first impression that entices for a second sip. The tannins are dense yet elegant and the finish proves to be savoury and enduring.”
Olga Fusari – Winemaker
“This is a beauty, so generous and opulent with fully seamless transitions. The wine’s traditional blend is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with tiny percentages of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, although this warm vintage makes due with a pinch less of the Cabernet Sauvignon. […] This broad and generous expression has a beautiful quality of fruit and oak that speaks to the very best of Italian winemaking.”
95-97 Points – Wine Advocate, Monica Larner
“An early harvest after a hot summer, this is luscious and enticing in texture. Jewel-ruby and violet-edged in colour, the plentiful vintage signature comes across in generosity and intensity of ripe fruit – raspberry, blueberry, sweet fig, spiced sandalwood, balsamic, bay leaf and mandarin zest giving focus and lift. All is texture and depth, ready to be loved. Clearly long ageing, as is always the case with Ornellaia, a little more open and generous than the 2019 was at the same stage. 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.”
96 Points – Jane Anson
“Estate director Axel Heinz called 2020 ‘a classic Ornellaia,’ and picked the theme of ‘La Proporzione‘ (proportion) to describe its character. Indeed, the blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot marks a return to a more typical blend following the pendulum swings of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon in 2019, and 51% Merlot in 2018. Fine-grained and beautifully textured, its finely integrated tannins support a concentration of black fruits lightened by red berries. Aromas of black cherry, liquorice, dark chocolate, cedar and damp earth make for a fragrant wine, accompanied by menthol and balsamic streaks which run through the wine and impart plenty of freshness. It finishes with a stony and salty element along with some chocolatey and woody hints. Tight and moreish, its ripeness of fruit combined with freshness and structure adeptly tells the story of this earlier-ripening vintage. It lacks complexity in the mouth – this will come with time – but the array of aromas gives a hint of what is to come.”
96 Points – Decanter, James Button
Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy
50% Cabernet Sauvignon,
13% Cabernet Franc,
5% Petit Verdot