Ornellaia: Almost Perfect!?
Where the rolling Tuscan Hills meet the Tyrrhenian Sea, close to the cypress-lined road to Bolgheri, is the Etruscan Coast Wine Route. This land was once blighted by Malaria but has since been drained and Mediterranean flora, olive-groves and vineyards now thrive in the rich soil. It is here that you will find the Tenuta dell Ornellaia Winery, a winery which has completely disproved the age-old belief that the Chianti was the only place in Tuscany in which world-class wines could be produced.
In 1981, Marquis Ludovico Antinori, a descendent of a family of great winemakers, decided to experiment with a new way of making wine, one which would respect the unique terroir, and include both hand harvesting and the separate vinification of the grapes produced in each individual vineyard. The first sorting process after harvesting, is still traditionally left to the expert hands of Ornellaia’s female workers, who meticulously discard damaged and unripe fruits and ensure that even the tiniest quantities of foliage do not enter the vats.
This part of Tuscany, where the Maremma begins, is characterised by its alluvial, marine and volcanic terrains, which make it especially suitable for the cultivation of red grapes such as Merlot, Cabernet, Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
The estate’s flagship wine is its Ornellaia, closely followed by Le Serre Nuove and Le Volte. In addition, there is the Masseto, produced exclusively with the Merlot grapes cultivated in the small 7 hectare vineyard from which the wine takes its name. Today, two and a half decades after its first 1986 vintage, the Masseto is one of the world’s most sought after wines. In 2002, the 1998 vintage of Ornellaia was declared Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator. So what’s next for this world-class winery? How about an almost perfect score for the 2006 Masseto. This time The Wine Advocate, made famous by wine critic Robert Parker, has put Ornellaia in the spotlight by awarding 99 points, out of 100, to the afore-mentioned Masseto. For those of you who can afford this Tuscan treasure, it’s not one to be missed. Be sure to visit the winery website, they have a cool live webcam of the vineyard: http://www.ornellaia.com/en/territorio/ornellaiadiretta.htm
2006 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Masseto- $450.00btl
I can still remember nearly falling out of my chair the first time I tasted the 2006 Masseto (100% Merlot) from barrel. The wine is now in bottle, and it is every bit as monumental as I had hoped. The wine possesses staggering richness in a style that perfectly captures the essence of this great Tuscan vintage. Black cherries, flowers, licorice and sweet toasted oak are just some of the nuances that emerge from the 2006 Masseto. A wine of breathtaking depth, it also reveals superb clarity, freshness and vibrancy in a sumptuous, beautifully-balanced style. Simply put, the 2006 Masseto is a masterpiece from Tenuta dell’ Ornellaia. According to Agronomist/General Manager Leonardo Raspini the dryness of the vintage slowed down the maturation of the sugars, leaving the wine with an unusually high level of acidity, and therefore freshness, considering its overall ripeness. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2031. 99pts
Italian Wine Specialist
West Palm Wines