Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ornellaia 2004 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Bolgheri

In 1981 Marchese Antinori purchased numerous small vineyards in and around Bolgheri. The Italian wine industry was in turmoil. The area of the Super Tuscans was having a terrible time and the small farmers were looking for a way out. Antinori, one of the larger Italian winemakers took advantage of the moment and bought the best vineyards of the area. He was a savvy businessman. Instead of incorporating the vineyards into his existing structure he kept the personnel and the previous owners in the purchased properties he allowed them to keep making their traditional wines with the resources of the larger company. Some of the great success stories are Tenuta dell’Ornellaia and Tenuta Guado al Tasso.

Recently many of these properties have been sold. Robert Mondavi purchased Tenuta dell’Ornellaia in 1997. In 2002 Frescobaldi purchased half of the company and in 2005 acquired the remaining 50%. While the ownership has changed the personnel making the wine has remained the same. It is true that each owner influenced, to certain extent, the final taste of the wine however it has remained consistently a very good wine. Ornellaia is relatively expensive. Most often it will price over 150$.

Ornellaia 2004 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Bolgheri is a marvelous blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon; 25% Merlot; 12% Cabernet Franc; 3% Petit Verdot. We just recently tasted this wine. It still needs at least 3 years before I would consider opening it. If you do drink this wine in 2007 or 2008 give it plenty of time to breath. The wine will balance and the flavors amalgamate as the longer it is open. The company’s representative told me that 2004 was a fantastic year. Unfortunately, my imagination and future vision is not that good thus I can say this is a good vintage. I would drink it, even at its young age but I cannot say that it will become one of the greats.

The bouquet is alluring, with a bold, svelte darkness of ripe cherry and blackcurrant, hints of mint and chocolate, and a savory, slightly more austere and dusty, smoky quality in the background.
The oak is very well integrated already, with some cedar and vanillin notes lying beneath the fruit. On the palate this is medium- to full-bodied and immensely rich and concentrated, yet there is an immediate sense of freshness too, with tight, supple tannins and freshening cherry acidity adding structure and bite to the wine. Ornellaia has always been one of our favorites. If past production is any indication of the future this will be a great wine and will age well in the cellar, refining and finding greatest balance for well over 15 years.


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