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The 2008 Ornellaia has really come together beautifully over the last few months. Up until fairly recently it was a tightly wound, inaccessible wine, but it has begun to blossom quite nicely. The 2008 is a cool, inward Ornellaia graced with exquisite finesse in its dark fruit, mocha, licorice, tar and spices. I especially like the minerality and focus. There is a fabulous balance between the tannins of this structured, powerful vintage, but with gorgeous fleshiness and pliancy that makes the wine very attractive, even at this early stage. It will be fascinating to watch the 2008 develop over the coming years and decades. The 2008 growing season was marked by a rainy, wet spring which resulted in an irregular flowering and naturally low yields. The summer was hot, but temperatures cooled towards the end of the summer, particularly at night, so important for the development of color, aromatics and full phenolic ripeness in varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon. The result is a big, massively structured Ornellaia built for the cellar. In 2008 the blend is 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. The 2008 Ornellaia spent about 20 months in French oak barrels, 70% new. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2028. Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate.
Considering the global phenomenon that the wines of Tenuta dell?Ornellaia have become, it is easy to forget that this is a young estate founded as recently as 1981. Lodovico Antinori chose an idyllic site in the hills near Bolgheri, beautifully positioned on the gentle slopes above the coastal plain, to create a new estate, with the objective of producing a wine to rival the best in the world. As one would expect from this visionary mind, the site was not chosen for its looks but more to do with the fact that the land lies right next door to the great Bolgheri estate of Tenuta San Guido which makes Sassicaia. Lodovico passed the baton to the very successful joint ownership of Marchesi de? Frescobaldi and Robert Mondavi, which has today metamorphosed into ownership by Tenuta di Toscana,a company controlled by Marchesi de?Frescobaldi. This history matters since the different owners have given exceptional impetus to the fledging estate and ensured that their baby lacked for nothing (and most especially money) in the early stages of life. Ornellaia?s development to date is a text book example of how to create a true icon in the incredibly competitive world of wine. That it is supported by a complete commitment to quality, producing wines that stand up to critical scrutiny is all the more impressive. Ornellaia and Masseto comfortably rank amongst the world?s greatest wines, while Le Serre Nuove dell?Ornellaia and Le Volte are rapidly building formidable reputations. If this is what the estate can achieve in a shade under 30 years, the future is bright indeed. Tenuta dell?Ornellaia is on the Via Bolgherese, set in a triangle formed by the sea, the medieval hamlet of Bolgheri and the town of Castagneto Carducci. Covering 97 hectares (about 240 acres), the vineyards are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. If Sassicaia put this area on the map, Bolgheri today is synonymous with winemaking of the highest order and the Ornellaia estate?s wines reflect the exceptional terroir of the region, complemented by the wonderful Mediterranean climate of coastal Tuscany. From the village itself the view extends far out to sea and on a clear day the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago and Corsica can be seen. The low hilly landscape is dotted with ancient olive groves and vineyards, surrounded by acres of dense woodlands and typical Mediterranean maritime vegetation which create a haven for wildlife.