After decades of expansion, exploration and experimentation, there can be no doubt that the next great wine making region of the world is the coastal sliver of Tuscany called the Maremma. Whether near Grosseto or Castagneto Carducci, producer after producer are investing and acquiring vineyards in this special region. Each year a few great wines emerge and with fewer restrictions for the territory, there seems to be no end in sight to the trend.
The Orma Estate is located in the district of Castagneto Carducci within the Bolgheri DOC, and is home to only 5.5 hectares of well-exposed and carefully tended vineyards. The gentle and consistent Mediterranean breezes keep the vines ventilated and free from rot and fungus despite dense vine plantings. Like I’ve discussed with Michele Satta, the soil here is composed of a high proportion of sand and pebbles with considerably less clay than other areas in Tuscany. This creates an environment where water easily runs free from the soil. Thus, vines growing here must struggle and dig their roots deep into the earth in order to find required water reserves. The result? Complex and fully flavored grapes.
Orma represents Tenute Sette Ponti’s move to the coast of Tuscany. Made at a single estate of the same name, the wine is a polished, powerful blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Originally purchased in the mid-1990’s by Arezzo born business mogul Antonio Moretti, the estate boasts an ideal location next to Tenuta dell’Ornellaia and amid the towering cypress trees of the famed Via Bolgherese. Orma walks a delicate line to find equilibrium between power and finesse. While many wines of the region strive for such deft balance, Orma has ambitiously achieved it in a relatively short period of time.
Today we’re profiling the flagship wine of the estate simply called “Orma”. Originally planted in 1999, the first vintage for this estate was actually 2005. However, now that the vineyard is approaching 20 years of age, the wines are becoming much more complex and intriguing. A blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet and 20% Cabernet Franc, Orma exhibits a level of fleshy-ness that you don’t often see accompanying a wine of such structure and power. Fermented in stainless steel tanks, the wine is then aged in new and one year old French barrique for 12-18 months and then spends an additional 12-18 months bottle aging before release.
The 2015 Orma Estate “Orma” is a deep violet color that transcends to a lighter hue at the rim of the glass. We decanted the wine about 60 minutes before dinner, but it did not need it. Immediately upon opening you are struck by aromas of blue flowers, crushed black fruit, coffee and spices. I love how this smells.
On the palate, the wine drips with sex appeal. Layer upon layer of velvety Merlot fruit glide across the palate in waves. Ripe blackberry notes dominate and are joined by wet stones, cedar, sweet tobacco, pepper and vanilla notes that provide a significant amount of complexity in a wine this young. Full bodied, with loads of ripe velvety tannins and mouth watering acidity, this has the fleshy-ness to drink now and the structure to age for at least a decade. Being the lover of Tuscan Merlot that I am, I was curious to compare this to other similar wines. Although it’s not a mono-varietal blend, I found myself thinking of Masseto on more than one occasion. Orma has that sort of sophistication.
It’s tough to find quarrel here. I can see lovers of more traditional wines balking at the polished, round and international style of this wine. However, this is what the Tuscan coast produces. In a region where Bordelaise varietals are the backbone of the DOC, this is very true to its terroir. 95 points. About $60 though price varies widely so shop around. Find this wine. Disclosure: This bottle was an importer provided sample.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be profiling the “second” wine from the Orma Estate called “Passi di Orma”; a similar but not identical expression of the estate. Salute!