Tenuta dell Ornellaia, a 97 hectare estate, was founded in 1981 by Marchese Lodovico Antinori, in the hills near Bolgheri, adjoining Tenuta San Guido, the property of Sassicaia. Lodovico is brother to Piero Antinori of the Antinori Estate, and also nephew to Clarice Gherardesca of Tenuta San Guido.
Having inherited this estate, Ludovico planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot in 1982, with advice from his mentor Andre Tchelistchev, the late Californian wine guru.
The estate's signature wine, Ornellaia Bolgheri DOC Superiore, a Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend, with small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, was first released in 1985 after ageing in French oak barriques for 18 months. Other wines produced on the estate include Le Serre Nuove dell'Ornellaia, Masseto and Le Volte. Ornellaia and Masseto comfortably rank amongst the world's greatest wines.
Lodovico Antinori is no longer involved with the winery he founded; after the very successful joint ownership by Marchesi de Frescobaldi and Robert Mondavi in 2002, the property is today owned by Tenuta di Toscana, a company controlled by Marchesi de Frescobaldi, its young and enthusiastic team benefiting from the resources of a large company whilst having autonomy when developing the estate's wines.
Ornellaia is not one of Tuscany's most historic wineries, but it has become one of its most respected with a formidable reputation.
Ornellaia DOC Superiore is the estate's flagship wine; each grape variety and each vineyard is vinified separately, and then assembled to produce wines that reflect the nuances of each vintage. The final blend for each vintage decided 6 months before the completion of its barrel ageing and the wine remains in the bottle for a further 12 months before it is released. Ornellaia 2001 was considered "2001 World's Number 1 Wine" by The Wine Spectator.
One of the great Super-Tuscan estates, Tenuta dell'Ornellaia Winery was founded in 1981 in what has proved to be one of Italy's most interesting and expressive wine-making areas, the maritime hills of Bolgheri within the greater wine region of Maremma. Maremma is an extremely interesting sub region of Tuscany for food and wine lovers to visit. Although for centuries it was considered unfit for vineyards, in the past few decades this coastal area has become one of the most ultra exclusive wine producing regions of Italy. Its success is due both to its staunch commitment to the philosophy of "quality without compromise" and to the unique climate and terrain here. While in some ways similar to Bordeaux's, the estate's terroir is truly something special; ever-changing and composite, it includes marine, alluvial and volcanic soils, allowing each grape variety to be planted in its ideal type of soil. Ornellaia enjoys some famous neighbors such as Sassicaia, one of the most legendary Tuscan estates. Sassicaia is owned (not coincidentally) by Antinori's uncle, who made the first Super Tuscan and began the trend that continues today.
Tenuta dell'Ornellaia actually occupies two separate estates in Tuscany's low, hilly coastal region. The original property, which Antinori inherited, is home to a stylish, clean-lined winery and 30 hectares of vineyards. Nearby is the second estate, Bellaria, with 46 hectares.
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