The Essence of Ornellaia 2014
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.
For Axel Heinz, Ornellaia’s Estate Director and Winemaker, the 2014 vintage exhibits the character of ‘L’Essenza,’ or the Essence. “When one is confronted with a challenging growing season, to make a great wine, one has to focus on simply extracting that year’s very essence. And, in fact, the 2014 year unexpectedly turned into a pleasant surprise, since the heavy rains and low temperatures during the ripening stages were followed by a September and October which brought us exemplary weather conditions; the result was a somewhat later harvest, which delivered optimally vibrant fruit with crisp acidities. We complemented that result with meticulous hand-picking, whose objective was to select only the most sound, healthy clusters. What one notices immediately about the 2014 vintage is the high quality of the tannins: elegant and silk-smooth, with no rough edges at all.
2014 will be remembered in Tuscany for the summer that never was and as one of the most unusual. A warm and rainy winter was followed by a mild and dry spring, a distinctively average July and a cold and rainy August. All of this created difficult conditions for the ripening of the grapes. September and October, however, brought perfect conditions, with mostly sunny and dry weather, offering excellent conditions for ripening, particularly for Merlot. While we had an incredible amount of extra work to do in the vineyard, the combination of the Estate’s varied subsoils, the varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and our own detailed knowledge of the terroir all played distinctively in our favour. Ornellaia underlines the fundamental difference in terroir between the coast and the central Tuscan vineyards.”
In technical words, about the climate of 2014, in our area we had a warm and wet winter was followed by a mild and dry spring which allowed a normal vegetative growth with a punctual and regular flowering. The weather in July was perfect, August however was rainy and cold, creating very difficult conditions for ripening, and greatly increasing the risk of diseases. The meticulous work in the vineyard, with leaf stripping and treatments during the entire month of August enabled us to maintain the good health of our vines, allowing them to develop free of disease during September and October. These two months conditions, with mostly sunny and dry weather, gave us excellent conditions for ripening. During the harvest, it was crucial to select the grape bunches carefully, both in the vineyard – where in some plots we did up to three harvest passages – and on the selection table, so to fill the tanks only with perfectly healthy and fully ripe grapes. 2014 was one of the longest and most delayed harvests at Ornellaia, with the first Merlot harvested the 6th of September, and a large part of the historical vineyards – including some Merlot – harvested in October. The 2014 harvest, that ended on the 22nd of October, was the latest ever.
As always, the grapes were hand-picked into 15-kg boxes and then selected by hand on a double sorting table, before and after destemming, and finally softly crushed. Each grape variety and single vineyard block was vinified separately. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks at temperatures between 26-30°C for two week, followed by 10-15 days of maceration on the skins. 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.