Tag Archives: Bolgheri

Stupore by Campo alle Comete Bolgheri DOC

Bolgheri is, above all, a state of mind, a way of life, the rarefied atmosphere of a world thought to no longer exist. As in a mosaic, the single pieces which compose it are of precious materials and colors, but observing them one by one there is no perception of the overall picture. Nature here remains in a pristine state; woods dominate the hillsides which, running parallel to the coast, protect it from winter’s worst cold. And, to the west, sparkles the blue of the sea, a sea which mitigates with its breezes the dog day heat of July and August. The vineyards, often wedged into the green of forest spaces or of ancient olive groves, dominates, together with the silent whistling of the wind, a landscape drawn discretely by the human hand.

The Campo alle Comete estate is located at the foot of Castagneto Carducci, the only municipality that holds the prestigious DOC Bolgheri denomination. Here is also born the “Stupore”, a wine that brings the peculiarity of Tuscan coast to full expression.

 We tasted:  Stupore Campo alle Comete 2015 Bolgheri DOC

“Stupore” is a red from Bolgheri in which four different varieties of international vines meet, which together make up an absolutely excellent blend.
This wine has a beautiful ruby red, deep and intense colour. On the nose it expresses fruity notes of cherry and fresh plum. The taste turns out to be soft, balanced and fresh. Excellent length and sapid the final. It is perfect with meat and especially poultry, it is excellent to accompany stuffed honey duck.

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“Clouds with silver linings” Vendemmia 2017 @ Ornellaia

 

Undeniably 2017 has been a challenging year in the vineyards. We have become so used to abundant harvests and constantly high quality that it comes as a shock when mother nature makes things difficult for us. In my past 12 years at Ornellaia a few vintages have presented challenges, 2009 & 2014 in particular, but none quite so much as 2017. All the talk so far has been about the low yields, and this is of course an issue for the commercial side, but certain aspects of 2017 give us reason to be happy.

2017 has seen a rare combination of an anticipated growth cycle with hot and dry weather, resulting on one of the earliest harvest in the history of the estate.

The Growing season

An early start with a sudden slowdown

The relatively warm and dry winter, only interrupted by a brief period of temperatures below 0°C in January, and an unusually warm weather in February and March set the stage for an early budbreak, which indeed arrived around the 27th March, a good week before average. April followed the same pattern leading to an explosive shoot growth that got brutally slowed down by a few days of extremely low temperatures that went below 0°C in many parts of Tuscany, causing important frost damages on the vines. Luckily in Bolgheri’s mild coastal climate the temperatures stayed just above zero preventing any frost.

Although May, the third consecutive month with rainfall below seasonal average, was warm and sunny, the shoot growth could not fully recover from the cold wave in April, therefore flowering occurred with canopies that had not reached their full size. The bloom was rapid and very uniform with good fruit set, but due to the slow vegetative growth clusters and berries stayed smaller than usual. On the positive side, the dry and sunny conditions reduced pressure of fungal diseases, allowing us reduce spraying to a minimum.

Summer: it never rains in Bolgheri…but we sometimes wish it would

From June on we saw a particularly hot and dry weather that would stay until mid-September. By July the lasting drought started to create some concern. The clusters stayed small without much berry growth, forcing us to adapt ourselves to the dry conditions, by removing cover crops and operating fruit thinning in order to further stress the vines. Ornellaia’s soil management, based on improving microbiological life and organic content, certainly helped to increase the vines’ resistance to the drought and keep enough moisture in the soils.

Veraison occurred about ten days early third week of July.

The harvest: As fast as you can

The long-lasting drought in the run up to harvest time was a constant source of anxiety, and we knew we could not change this. Not to our surprise the first grape samples showed already high sugars and indicated that we were in for an early harvest. A brief heat spike first week of August further accelerated the ripening and concentrated the berries, leading us to kick off harvest of the first Sauvignons on the 7th August, a date unheard of in Ornellaia. Sauvignon and Viognier harvest was completed by the 17th August and – quite astonishingly – was immediately followed by the usually late ripening Vermentino and Verdicchio. Our experience with white wine making accumulated since 2008, allowed us to avoid the traps of such a warm vintage – early harvest, picking only in the very first morning hours, transporting the grapes in a refrigerated truck and careful pressing in absence of oxygen have helped us to fully express the aromatic quality and maintain a beautiful acidity. Naturally the quality of the vineyard sites and the cool nights helped as well.

The first reds were harvested together with the Vermentino and Verdicchio on the 24th August, starting as usual with young vine Merlot. Harvest of the last old-vine Merlot was completed on the 4th September. In only ten days, 2017’s Merlot is one the fastest ever in the estate’s history. The exceptionally small berries showed high sugars, high tannin and luckily also high acidity. A good amount of fruit, especially when directly exposed to the sun showed some significant berry shriveling, which we could deal with perfectly through optical sorting, in use at Ornellaia since 2016, allowing us to discard sometimes up to 10% of shriveled berries. This certainly has immensely benefited the aromatic purity of the wines, avoiding any pruney or raisiny character.

Cabernet sauvignon harvest will as well be remembered as the earliest in the estate’s history. Young vines started to be picked on the 30th August in similar conditions than the Merlot, but by the 10th September the long-awaited rain came in, giving a fair bit of relief to the vines, hydrating the fruit and allowing us to complete the ripening under virtually perfect conditions. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and the older Cabernet sauvignon vines were completed by the 26th September, with sunny but cool weather.

The exceptionally small, concentrated and rich berries required particularly careful extraction. Less – in this case – is more and so we shortened maceration times to a maximum of 3 weeks, kept fermentation temperatures low, and reduced pump-overs to a minimum, to only extract the purest flavours and soft, gentle tannins of high quality.

…And finally, how are the wines?

We cannot sugar coat it – the yields in 2017 are very low and will cause some financial difficulty for some in the next few years, but in the end the quality of the wines, across the board, is a happy ending to a demanding and challenging year in which we were reminded of mother nature’s changing moods.

Concentration would be the first thing that comes to mind when describing them. The whites have maintained bright flavours and good acidities, testifying to the great potential of the area, a potential we had seen ever since we decided to start all over again with the production of Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia with the old sauvignon blanc vines that had not accepted their regrafting to Merlot. It is beautiful to see the wonderful quality coming from the newly planted vineyards in Bellaria, that have allowed us to produce Ornellaia bianco and have yielded wines of great finesse even in a hot vintage as 2017.

The reds are opulent, rich and dark, with abundant, yet silky and refined tannins and excellent acidities to cut through the richness. The fruit is intense and pure, without signs of over ripeness.

Last but not least, the Petit Manseng for Ornus dell’Ornellaia, picked in mid-October looks very promising with high sugars and great concentration. We will have to wait until the end of the year, once fermentation will be completed to express a final judgement

 Axel Heinz – Winemaker & Estate Director

VINTAGE 2016 HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BECOME ONE OF ORNELLAIA’S GREAT VINTAGE

harvest-in-ornellaia

ORNELLAIA: START TO ONE OF THE EARLIEST HARVESTS IN RECENT YEARS

“For Ornellaia, this will be one of the earliest-concluding growing seasons in recent years: our harvest started immediately following the late-August holidays. The reason is that, contrary to 2015, we had no significant rainfall during the month of August,” explained Axel Heinz, Director and Winemaker of Ornellaia.  “Thus, on Monday, 22 August, Ornellaia brought in the first clusters of Sauvignon blanc and Viognier, which showed excellent component levels, with a potential alcohol of 13% and a good, balanced acidity. We will already finish this week the harvest of our white grapes, while we have just started picking, in these past few days, some Merlot, and we’re planning to continue with the other reds next week.

“Significant heat in July and August speeded up the ripening process,” continued Heinz. “Fortunately, the area of Bolgheri is blessed with wide day-night temperature differentials, which in turn allows the vines to recover during the night from the daytime heat and dryness. In addition, the depth of our soils creates optimal conditions for developing the aromatic qualities of our grapes.    

“As it stands, it is possible 2016 could be among the best vintages at Ornellaia, on a par with 2001, 2006, 2011, and 2012, which were all characterized by hot, dry summers and yet gave us wines of great concentration, structure, and richness. The first rows we pick are never the whole story, so we are still sampling all the various vineyards and evaluating their potential. In point of fact, though, the figures we are seeing do indicate a vintage similar to the great ones of past years.” 

 

Super Tuscan, Bolgheri reds shine in summer 2016

July 20th, 2016

Castello di Bossi
Corbaia

TOSCANA IGT

2013

Elegant and silky for the vintage with blueberry and black pepper aromas and flavors. Medium body, firm tannins and a pretty finish. Delicious blend of sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon. Drink or hold.

93/100

 

 

 

 

Renieri
Regina di Renieri

TOSCANA IGT

2013

The palate here shows dark fruits with hot dusty stones and hints of dried meat. Not an obvious expression of syrah. Full with a wonderful juicy intensity that follows through to the finish. Drink now. Why wait?

94/100

 

 

 

 

Tenuta di Renieri
Grido

TOSCANA IGT

2011

This shows a dusty texture with chocolate powder and dried cherry aromas. Medium to full body, silky tannins and a fresh finish. Shows tension and beauty. Beautiful merlot. One of the best yet from here. Drink or hold.

93/100

 

Tenuta di Renieri
Mega

TOSCANA IGT

2011

Plenty of bay leaf with licorice, leather and dried flowers. Full yet linear with licorice-like flavors and a persistent dry fruit finish. Drink now.

93/100

 

 

 

 

 

 

Renieri
Re di Renieri

TOSCANA IGT

2013

A Bordeaux blend with aromas of plums, dark currants with hits of licorice and leather. The palate is full and juicy with polished tannins and a persistent walnut-like finish. A blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and petit verdot. Better in a year or two but already delicious.

93/100

 

 

 

 

 

Renieri
Invetro

TOSCANA IGT

2013

This shows aromas of ripe plums with dark licorice. More fresh and straightforward with plenty of juicy and delicious fruit and a wonderful clean finish. Drink now.

91/100

 

 

 

 

 

Terre di Talamo
Per Cecco

TOSCANA IGT

2012

This is rich and very silky with a pretty density and ripeness. Lots of blueberry and cherry character. Medium to full body, fine tannins and a flavorful finish. Hints of new wood. Hard to resist. Petit verdot. Drink or hold.

93/100