Ornellaia is pretty much a household name. Those lucky enough to have tried the winery’s flagship Bolgheri immediately recognise the wine to be one of the most important producers of the (relatively) newly-declared DOC on the Tuscan coast. However, priced at over a 100€, the wines aren’t intended for regular drinking but rather for special occasions.
Thankfully the winery produces both a second and a third wine: “Le Serre Nuove” and “Le Volte” respectively. For those with a stack of money left over, the winery’s “Masseto” Merlot is one of Italy’s and Tuscany’s most expensive wine – unfortunately, I’ve never tried it but it is claimed to be one of the world's best Merlots.
Last week (26.10.2016), I was lucky enough to check out the last few vintages of the second wine: Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia, a Bolgheri wine made using the younger vines of this already young estate. The wine is a Bordeaux blend with a slightly different mixture, according to the vintage.
Vertical tasting is always a great way to taste the gradual aging of a wine and the direct comparison between the vintages. We tasted the 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014 wines with a few other special products from the Tuscan producer during the course of the afternoon.
Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2007
40% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot
A racing acidity runs through this 2007 Bolgheri. Alongside the red berries brought in through the Merlot, a wonderful structural acidity and robustness is built around this by the higher-than-usual Cabernet Sauvignon percentage. The tannins fall into place behind the bright red fruit: cranberry, wild strawberry and rhubarb and, on the finish is a fuller sense of toasted wood and a touch of liquorice.
Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2008 (decanted)
55% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petit Verdot
The red fruit in the 2008 Serre Nuove comes through in the form of sweet berries which, together form a compote feel: sweet strawberry, dried plum, blackcurrant and redcurrant lead onto a floral feel in the body of the wine which is finished off with a sprinkling of festive spices and an encasement of robust but smoothed tannins.
Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2009
54% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc
The ripest and most pleasurable wine of the tasting, the 2009 Serre Nuove is at its optimal drinking stage right now. With some of the ripest Merlot fruit in a Tuscan wine I’ve tried to date, the wine felt big, grand and, being perfectly honest, a bit like a 1990s Bordeaux. Despite the fruit still being remarkably fresh: blackcurrant, Cassis, cranberry and lots of excellent red plums, the spice structure was excellently incorporated into the wine: plenty of lovely leather aromas, a dash of espresso and even a touch of cocoa. The tannins were nice and smooth and, paired with an enchanting background acidity, the wine made for excellent drinking
Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2010
45% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc
Unfortunately the bottle at the tasting wasn’t in optimal condition. I’ll update this review if I get the chance to try the wine again.
Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2011 (decanted)
57% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Petit Verdot, 12% Cabernet Franc
The 2011 Serre Nuove has a huge potential. A wonderful sense of liquorice lingers in the background behind notes of blackcurrant and blueberry. Still compact, the wine isn’t quite ready for drinking right now but hints at the direction the 2011 is going to take: classic, large, fruity: a stunner. A wonderful smoky aroma is introduced with the tannins which makes the wine rather seem a touch mysterious. Look out for this wine in the future.
Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2014
50% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petit Verdot
Still in the primary fruit phase, the 2014 shows off a wonderful array of bright and sharp red berries: Cassis, blackcurrant and even, thanks to a sense of acitiy, a touch of grapefruit and rhubarb. The tannins are slowly falling into place and the wine’s youth makes it refreshing.
Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia 2014
70% Sauvignon Blanc, 16% Vermentino, 8% Verdicchio, 6% Viognier
It’s lovely to try a refreshing new style of white wine from a red wine region. Tuscan white has always been a bit of a disappointment to me in the past and yet this Sauvignon Blanc cuvee more than makes up for it. With a hint at the exotic fruits in the body, the wine manages to retain some of the green notes that make Sauvignon Blanc so interesting: gooseberry, green apple and lime lead onto peach, arpricot and even a touch of pineapple. The finish is salty, hints at wood rather than relying on it and wine feels clean and compact.
Ornus dell’Ornellaia 2011
100% Petit Manseng
Big and thick on the uptake with dried plums, raisons and a whole host of tropical fruits, this wine’s botrytis aromas are in the foreground and, particularly the dried pineapple and mango aromas partially cover up a profound sense of new oak: vanilla and coconut. Long and thick, the wine reminds of well-made Sauternes although is already wonderfully drinkable. Caramel, clotted cream and and honey are worked into the wine expertly making making it a very rewarding drink.