Tenuta dell’Ornellaia is without question one of Italy’s blue-chip properties. The gorgeous, sprawling estate is located in Bolgheri in Tuscany’s Maremma. On a recent visit I had the opportunity to taste a number of the estate’s wines with General Manager/Agronomist Leonardo Raspini and Oenologist Axel Heinz, including verticals of the estate’s top bottlings Ornellaia and Masseto.

After harvest the varietals are vinified separately. Fermentation and maceration lasts between 25-30 days after which the wines are moved into French oak barrels where they age for 12 months. The wines are then racked and assembled into the final blend, which spends an additional six months in barrel prior to being bottled. The percentage of new oak has risen from 50%, which was used for vintages 1997 and 1998, to 60% used in 1999, to the 70% the estate has employed since 2000.






Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy.


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Antionio Galloni, Wine Advocate January 2010, 92 Points

The 2002 Ornellaia (magnum) is a modern-day equivalent of the 1994, which is to say a very pretty wine where all of the elements are beautifully-balanced within the context of small vintage. Still, the wine’s sheer concentration and sense of harmony are truly remarkable, especially considering the cool, rainy conditions that affected Tuscany that year. In the magnum format, the 2002 Ornellaia is particularly impressive. There can be little doubt that much of this wine’s success, as well as that of the other lesser vintages that followed in this flight (2003 and 2005) can be attributed to the stringent selection of fruit and wine that the estate introduced in the late 1990s. In 2002 Ornellaia is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. The component wines spent six months in French oak, 70% new. The final blend was assembled and the wine was racked back into barrique for a further six months of aging prior to being bottled. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2020.

Antionio Galloni, Wine Advocate April 2007, 92 Points

The estate’s 2002s show why Tenuta dell’Ornellaia is one of Italy’s premier properties. Those obsessed with points will chase the higher rated 2003s and 2004s, but consumers who buy wines to drink them would do well to consider these 2002s especially given that pricing should be favorable. The 2002s are by no means the equal of the estate’s top wines but they will offer useful drinking while the more important vintages reach maturity.  The 2002 Ornellaia (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot) is an astoundingly good wine considering the vintage. A vibrant dark ruby/violet, it offers suggestions of herbs, tobacco, earthiness and dark red fruit with excellent length and notable structure. Although it doesn’t have the concentration or length of the best vintages, it displays terrific overall balance and is undoubtedly a huge overachiever for which General Manager/Agronomist Leonardo Raspini and his entire team deserve much credit. 92/Anticipated maturity: 2008-2017.