Think of three Super Tuscans. Chances are, Ornellaia was one of them.

Along the Italian coast lies Bolgheri, where the Ornellaia estate benefits from nutrient rich soils and heaven-sent sea breezes. These mitigate the intense Italian summer heat, creating the perfect conditions for their inimitable Bordeaux blend.

The estate was founded in 1981 by Marchese Lodovico Antinori. Some say Ornellaia was created out of family competition, as Lodovico’s brother is Piero Antonori – who started Solaia at Tenuta Tignanello – and his cousin is Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, founder of the neighbouring Sassicaia estate. Planted on marine, alluvial and volcanic soils, the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot vines flourish here, producing exceedingly high quality grapes that are used for Ornellaia’s premier cuvee. The estate also grow Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Manseng, Viognier, Verdicchio and Vermentino for their white wines.

Progress is impossible without change

Since 2005, Ornellaia has formed an integral part of the Frescobaldi family’s winemaking history that dates back over 700 years. Today, Marchese Ferdinando Frescobaldi is President of Ornellaia and works alongside CEO Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja and Estate Director Axel Heinz. It was recently announced Axel will be stepping down from his role this summer and moving to Chateau Lascombes in Bordeaux to be CEO and Director. Having met with Axel at a tasting ahead of the Ornellaia 2020 release, he said he is excited about the new challenges at the Lascombes estate, particularly exploring the potential of Cabernet Franc which has been an integral part of the Ornellaia blend. Over his 17-year tenure at Ornellaia the estate’s profile grew tremendously. Axel bolstered the global appeal of Ornellaia and the Super Tuscans at large, demonstrated by the fact the only Italian wines to have continuously featured in the Liv-ex Power 100 since 2010 are Ornellaia, Masseto (where Axel is also Estate Director) and Sassicaia.

As with many wineries around the world, Ornellaia are placing an ever greater importance on managing the estate’s impact, both locally and globally. In 2021, Ornellaia obtained its ‘Sustainable Organisation’ certification and published their first report that delves into the estate’s commitment to sustainability throughout all aspects of the company. In addition to the use of sustainable farming practices, implementing renewable energy sources for use in the vineyards and winery, and reducing waste, Ornellaia also focusses on its social responsibility of cultural heritage preservation and support for the local community.

A retrospective tasting with Axel Heinz

We were recently lucky enough to attend a retrospective tasting (and a fabulous dinner) with Axel Heinz ahead of the release of the 2020 vintage. Despite the recent revelations about Axel’s future at the Tuscan estate, the Ornellaia 2020 is still very much the result of his hard work and expertise. He said that as a vintage he found it to be quite different to the 2019, as it unrolled in many different seasons all of which had an influence on the wine; June and July were rainy, followed by a heatwave in the peak of summer and rounded off with a cool harvest period. This resulted in a wine of great richness and complexity, with silky tannins and a lovely texture.

A super (Tuscan) investment

From an investment perspective Ornellaia is remarkable in its price to quality ratio, offering very good value for a Super Tuscan of its stature. It has not maybe seen quite the rocketed performance of its peers, Liv-ex stating at the beginning of this year, “Ornellaia has lagged behind the rest of the Super Tuscans in terms of price performance.” But with an average mid-price of £1,841 per case, Ornellaia is the second most affordable Super Tuscan on the market. And with recent vintages scoring highly across the board, including the 2020 latest release, it is a wine we always suggest snapping up should the opportunity to do so arise. And with new directions on the horizon, we are excited as ever to see how the estate continues to progress.

Interested in bolstering your Super Tuscan portfolio? Speak with our team today.

Related Posts