1981 – After discussing the coastal region of Tuscany with his cousin and following the acrimonious separation from his brother, Lodovico Antinori founds the Ornellaia Estate in Bolgheri.
1985 – The first vintage is harvested, which is released to the market in 1988
2002 – After financial difficulties, Antinori sells the estate to Robert Mondavi, who in turn divests 50% of the estate to the Frescobaldi Family.
2005 – When Robert Mondavi Estates is sold to Constellation Brands, the remaining 50% of Ornellaia is sold to the Frescobaldis.
Consultants have come and gone. Winemakers hired, fired, and retained. The ownership has been in flux. You would think such continuous upheaval would take its toll on the quality and vision of a premium wine estate, but that hasn’t been the case. In fact, in spite of the seemingly perpetual change, it’s easy to forget that the Frescobaldi family have been the sole owners of Ornellaia for over a decade and along with them, so too has winemaker Axel Heinz been a constant. The mission is simple: Create great wines with no compromises and Ornellaia is delivering.
Equally unexpected might be the notion of renewal, yet the changes at Ornellaia haven’t retarded the pace of innovation. In 2005, the new Bellaria vineyard was planted. In 2006, the estate completed the new barricaia cellar and also created its Vendemmia d’Artista labels that adorn 1 of 6 bottles of Ornellaia in each wooden case. These labels are colorful, vibrant artistic expressions of the vintage and are routinely auctioned at charity functions in support of the Arts.
Today we’re focusing on the second wine of Ornellaia. I dislike the term “second” because it automatically implies and inferior wine. However, that is not necessarily the case. The Ornellaia Estate has been modeled after the Bordeaux Chateau since its inception. From simply creating a wine bearing only the estate name “Ornellaia” to creating a second wine in 1999: Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia.
Produced from the same vineyard sources as Ornellaia, Le Serre Nuove is produced primarily from the estate’s younger vineyards but is made with the same passion and attention to detail as Ornellaia. The 2013 Le Serre Nuove is a blend of 36% Cabernet, 32% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 12% Petit Verdot.
We decanted the wine for 45 minutes to allow the aromas develop. In the decanter the wine is a vibrant purple color that is nearly opaque. In the glass, there is a slight fade to violet at the rim of the bowl. The aromas are enticing and feature black plums, lavender, menthol and cedar. Elegant, long and polished on the palate, the flavors echo the nose but pick up some trace minerals and grilled meat. I loved this wine at Gambero Rosso (due bicchieri) and I still love it.
Le Serre Nuove is vinified in stainless steel and the varietals are then transferred separately to barriques for aging, 75% of which have been used for the previous vintage of Ornellaia and 25% of which are new. After 12 months aging separately, the wine was blended and then barrel aged for 3 additional months. 6 months bottle aging occurs before release. A poor man’s Ornellaia? That works for me, but there is nothing “second class” about this wine. 93 points. About $50.
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