Ornellaia

Ornellaia 2018

R3,995

A super Tuscan with all attributes, bright, smooth and sophisticated, gentle now yet with age with Grace

Available on backorder

Additional information

Additional information

Critics Top Rating

98 points

Curated Selection

Top Rated

Grape Variety

Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot

Producer

Ornellaia

Product Type

Red Wine

Vintage

2018

Wine Group

Prestige

Wine Occasion

Indulgence, Icon & Invest

Wine Region

Italy

Story

Story

Bolgheri is the only Tuscan Appellation located on the coastline, and home of the ‘Super-Tuscans’. Its Terroir is perfectly suited to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (unlike most of Tuscany, planting Sangiovese). The Bolgheri DOC appellation was founded in 1994 and its wines have gained famed and recognition ever since.

Sensing the incredible potential of this region, Ornellaia was founded in 1981 by Marchese Lodovico Antinori. The property is adjacent to Tenuta San Guido, producer of Sassicaia, which is considered the original “Super Tuscan”. Robert Mondavi took a minority interest in the estate in November 1999, and were full owners by 2002, while initiating a partnership with the Frescobaldi family. In April 2005, Frescobaldi bought the remaining half of the shares of Ornellaia, coming to own the whole estate. Axel Heinz is the current winemaker with renowned Bordeaux Consultant Oenologist Michel Rolland, involved with the estate since its beginning.

The desire to nurture the estate’s exceptional qualities has shaped Ornellaia’s philosophy since the beginning. Ornellaia is a cuvée of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Petit Verdot and the faithful expression of unique terroir developed in harmony with nature.

Vendemmia d’Artista celebrates the exclusive character of each Ornellaia vintage: Since the release of Ornellaia 2006, an internationally famous contemporary artist has created a work of art for the estate and a series of limited-edition labels, inspired by the character identified by the winemaker to describe the particular features of the new vintage. Sold and auctioned off to be delivered to the cellars of the lucky collectors and, from 2019, the proceeds are donated to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in support of an innovative project called “Mind’s Eye”.
Since 2012, the Vendemmia d’Artista project has been extended to each case of Ornellaia (containing six
750 ml bottles) in which one bottle out of six has a special label designed by the artist. These unique labels will be reserved for purchases of full cases and not available by the unit.

Specifications

Specifications

BLEND: 51% Merlot – 40% Cabernet Sauvignon – 7% Cabernet Franc – 2% Petit Verdot

THE 2018 GROWING SEASON
After several years in which winter seemed to be little more than a memory, 2018 brought a return to normal climatic conditions, with temperatures spending enough time below zero for the vines to begin their well-deserved winter rest. The spring will be remembered as one of the wettest in history, with three times the seasonal average rainfall and high temperatures in April. Despite late budbreak, the weather conditions and rapid growth of the shoots enabled the vines to catch up and bloom a week earlier than anticipated. For the entire month of May and – to a lesser extent – June, rainfall remained above average and it was only in July that we received some respite, with a warm and dry month. Veraison took place between the 22nd and 25th of July, and August was as hot as it had been the previous year, but slightly wetter. The sugars and acidity developed slowly, while the berries grew to larger dimensions thanks to the high level of water present in the soil. September was warm and dry. Temperatures were higher than the seasonal average, but cooler nights enabled the vines to recover and preserve the aromas and acidity. The red grape harvest began on the 31st of August with the Merlot and ended on the 8th of October with the later-ripening varieties.

 

VINIFICATION AND AGEING
The clusters were hand-picked into 15 kg crates and then selected by hand on a double sorting table, before and after destemming, and finally softly crushed. In 2016, optical sorting has been introduced in addition to manual selection, in order to further increase the quality of selection. Each grape variety and single vineyard block were vinified separately. Fermentation took place in stainless steel and concrete tanks at temperatures between 26 and 30°C for one week, followed by maceration for about 15 days, for a total time in the vat of about three weeks. The malolactic fermentation took place mainly in oak barrels, 70% new and 30% once used. The wine then remained in barriques, in Ornellaia’s temperature-controlled cellars for about 18 months. After the first 12 months of maturation, the wine was assembled and then returned to the barriques for an additional 6 months. After bottling, the wine aged a further 12 months prior to release.

Tasting Notes

Tasting Notes

“With its usual deep ruby-red colour, Ornellaia 2018 features a lively and intense aromatic expression, a distinctive mark of the vintage. Red fruits, citrus notes, hints of liquorice and Mediterranean scrub combine to form its profile. With the first taste it is enveloping and all its components well-balanced: the tannins, both dense and silky in texture, fill the palate with elegance and precision. The finish is lifted by a distinct tangy vein that enhances the sensation of freshness and persistence.”
Olga Fusari – Winemaker – July 2020

Critic Ratings

Critic Ratings

James Suckling – 97-98 points

19 Mar, 2021 – So aromatic and complex with blackcurrants, blueberries, fresh violets and lavender on the nose. Some graphite and iodine, too. Medium to full body with firm, chewy tannins that are polished and refined, yet the palate is so long and refined. This is an Ornellaia with strength in elegance. Try after 2025.


Decanter – 96 points

Tasted by Monty Waldin (at Ornellaia, 27 Mar 2021)Part of Ornellaia: a masterclass in elegance

Ornellaia 2018 is appealingly gentle now, but its tannin quality and fruit clarity suggest it has the attributes for greatness over the next 15 years or more. It is also notable for its unusually high Merlot content at 51% (with 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot). The Merlot benefited, it seems, from 2018’s alternate bouts of hot, sunny weather interspersed with reviving showers. A fruit-packed Ornellaia with bright flavours and a moreish, silky-smooth and sophisticated texture allied to a potentially wide drinking window.

Drinking Window 2021 – 2036


Wine Advocate – 95 points

The 2018 Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia is complete and seamlessly stitched together with extreme care and precision. This is an almost technical blend of Merlot (at 50% of the blend for the first time), 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot that offers a true sense of wholeness and consistency that speaks to the blending expertise and experience of the winemaking team. Finding harmony among the various vinous components of the wine was especially important in this vintage that prized early-ripening grapes like Merlot over the others. Blackberry and dried cherry segue to spice, tar, campfire ash and more sweet fruit. We’re off to a great start, and this vintage of Ornellaia is surely destined to flesh out and grow more complex with age.

The 2018 vintage offers a unique perspective on the wines of Bolgheri, and nowhere is this more evident than the property that houses two powerhouse brands, Masseto and Ornellaia, just off the scenic via Bolgherese at the heart of this dynamic appellation located on the shores of northern Tuscany. Two of Italy’s most important wines are coming online. The 2018 Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia is being released now and the 2018 Masseto will hit the market later this year in October. We also have the 2018 Ornellaia Bianco (released now), the 2019 Bolgheri Rosso Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia (to be released in September) and the other wines from the Ornellaia program coming soon. The number two wine in the Masseto program, the 2019 Masseto, will be available in the fall. The 2018 Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia sees a historically high percentage of Merlot in the blend. That grape makes up 50% of the wine, with 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and tiny percentages of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. “The Merlot in 2018 was a big surprise, and we thought that a little meat was missing on the bones of the Cabernet Sauvignon,” he says. The Merlot harvest lasted about three weeks, starting at the end of August and lasting until September 25. The estate has various plots of the grape with different conditions and ripening dates and that explains the long harvest window. The percentage of Merlot in the 2018 Bolgheri Rosso Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia is also greater. The 2019 vintage represents a return to a more classic Bolgheri taste profile with greater fruit weight, structure and soft tannins. The spring season saw cool weather and rain, causing a two-week delay in the growing cycle. The temperatures warmed up considerably by June, and those delays were quickly overcome. Harvest started the second week of September and lasted until October 4th. The teams at Masseto and Ornellaia are working toward a sustainability certification with a 360-degree approach aimed at bottle glass weight, renewable energy, recyclable packaging, solar energy and making sure that outsourced suppliers comply to the in-house sustainability protocols. Recent changes in 2019 have been made to reduce bottle weight across many of the wines including the Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia. The special bottle used for Masseto, based on a unique design and special mold, is quite heavy by today’s standards. Axel does not exclude that the Masseto bottle could also be revised. For more information about the vintage conditions, the wines and this estate’s sustainability efforts, please read my full article for this report: “Italy, Tuscany: The Tuscan Twenty – A Spotlight on Masseto & Ornellaia.” (https://www.robertparker.com/articles/8amWjuQRsumiXasQA/)

You may also like…

Wine Region

Curated Selection

Product Type

Wine Occasion

Grape Variety

Producer

Wine Group

Vintage

Top Critics Score