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2016 has already won recognition as a stellar vintage for Brunello, with superbly balanced wines. For Tenute Silvio Nardi, this vintage displays the hallmarks of a particularly felicitous conjunction of factors.
Emilia Nardi, head of the family operation, explains: “Over the last 30 years, we have gradually replanted all our vineyards, following a massive zonation project, and in addition, we launched a significant programme of clonal selection. The results are that today, our vineyards are magnificently expressive.”
Brunello Tenute Silvio Nardi is a cuvée of grapes grown in a full 54 individual parcels on the two properties that compose the wine estate. Casale del Bosco, in the north-east quadrant of Montalcino, where the historic winery is located, is wooded and still wild, while Manachiara lies in the sunny, gently-rolling hills in the southeast. The voices of these vineyards’ “chorus” are even further tuned by precision viticulture and separate vinifications. After individual maturations, the lots find their common expression in the assembly of the cuvée, composed with the assistance of the exceptionally sensitive palate of consulting winemaker Eric Boissenot.
Zonation, soils, clones, elevation, aspect, and, obviously, the hand of man are critical for producing a great wine, but a favourable climate is just as important, and weather conditions in 2016 have been just perfect. Following spring rains that lasted into mid-June, sun and cool breezes got the upper hand. Heat in July, which averaged over 30oC, providentially alternated with sporadic rains in August, which brought temperatures down as low as 12oC, ushering in the cool conditions necessary for a high-quality crop, and a slow, gradual ripening allowed tannins and aroma precursors all the time they needed to develop. The first picking started in mid-September and concluded in October.
“After years of intense work on our vineyards, and with the fortunate kiss of 2016, I am pleased to state that the elegance achieved by our Brunello 2016 represents a great milestone for us, but the starting point as well for striving further,” concluded Emilia.
The wine exhibits an impressive balance of red berries and purple fruit, with a near-endless progression infused with mineral and vegetal aromatic impressions, all supported by a lively acidity and firm tannins that promise an enviable development over 10 years or more.
The latest vintage of Ornellaia’s signature white is released to the market.
Say Ornellaia and shades of ruby red and silky texture spring to mind, but there’s another side to the Bolgheri winery, a limited-edition jewel that serves as the alter ego of the Tuscan wine sharing the same name: Ornellaia Bianco. This year, the 2018 vintage is being released to market.
An intriguing and balanced cuvée in a deep shade of straw yellow, Ornellaia Bianco interprets the spirit of the Bolgheri estate with the grace and light that define this bucolic place. The grapes originate from a unique mélange of land: three small north-facing parcels, woven among the red-grape vineyards, which bestow a crystalline quality and hints of the Mediterranean shrub, sea breezes and a sumptuous style on the wine. Ornellaia Bianco stands as testimony to Bolgheri’s undeniable capacity to grow white varietals.
Ornellaia Bianco 2018, a Sauvignon Blanc-led blend with a touch of Viognier, displays “aromas of exotic fruit accompanied by mild hints of finely roasted vanilla, with a rich and fragrant palate perfectly balanced by a savoury tanginess,” comments the estate’s winemaker, Olga Fusari.
“2018 was rather harmonious, consisting of rain and sunshine in useful and necessary measures,” explains Estate Director Axel Heinz. The spring nurtured and revived the canopy with many showers, which was duly replaced by a summer of sunshine, in which the area’s typical breeze kept the vines healthy and dry. “In August, the various microclimates were accentuated by scattered showers,” Heinz continues. “This resulted in marked differences in the ripening stages of the grapes, which we harvested at very different times, starting after the 15th of August and continuing until the 13th of September. It was perhaps the longest harvest in the history of Ornellaia.
This wine is a product of meticulously harvested grapes picked in several stages before being fermented and set aside to refine for 10 months on the lees. Ornellaia Bianco does not undergo malolactic fermentation, therefore enabling its fresh character and Mediterranean identity to shine through.
The desire to convey the estate’s exceptional qualities has shaped Ornellaia’s philosophy since the beginning, and Ornellaia Bianco 2018 keeps the banner flying high, ready to inspire wine enthusiasts with evocative images of the beautiful Tuscan coast.
During the nights of the 7th and 8th of April, the vineyards at Tenuta di Trinoro offered a moving sight: vine rows lit up in the thick of night with thousands of candles lined up and burning.
The whole winery team of 36 workers fought a wave of frost that had come down the mountain to threaten fragile buds just beginning to sprout; the team had already prepared and set 3.000 large candles made with buckets filled with wax, placed along the rows during the day, as is customary in many of the colder vineyards of northern Europe. At Tenuta di Trinoro operations started at around midnight, with careful monitoring of the falling temperatures, until fire had to be set to stacks of firewood piled around the vineyards; then the 3.000 candles were lit. This kept the air around the plants above 0° degrees, while all around the vineyards, temperatures as low as 4.5° below freezing point were registered.
In the morning, at 9.45, the team left, after 8 hours of frantic work against this spell of cold air. More nights like this are expected this year.
Situated on a plateau at 430 meters altitude, above two ancient, wooded valleys with far-reaching views to the coast. Monterosola “hill of poppies” is one of Tuscany’s finest contemporary wineries.
Resting on a hillside overlooking the medieval city of Volterra, the Monterosola estate combines traditional winemaking techniques with state-of-the art technology. Just 50km from the coastal region of Bolgheri and 30km from the world-famous hills of Chianti, Monterosola sits amidst some of the best wine growing locations in the world.
Monterosola has its own complex microclimate which provides vines with the optimum growing conditions. Here, a regular breeze promotes the natural health and energy of the vines, which, in turn, produce the very best grapes.
With 25 hectares of vineyards producing both white and red wines, the estate also has olive groves, woodlands, gardens, lakes and pastures.
A destination winery
The estate has been producing excellent wines since 2003 yet it entered an exciting era in 2013 when the land was purchased by the Thomaeus family who recognised the true potential of the terroir. In 2015 the family embarked on an impressive project, to design and build a grand-scale cantina with purpose-built facilities for wine tastings and events.
At Monterosola the wine production methods are supervised by Alberto Antonini who has previously worked with some of Italy’s most prestigious cantinas including Antinori and Frescobaldi.
A beautiful rich ruby in colour with elements of ripe fruits on the nose with a hint of red cherry, strawberries almonds and green herbs. A well-balanced combination of elegance and intensity on the palate with soft tannins and a generous aftertaste.
Deep garnet colour with flavours of rich cherries, dried herbs, sweet oak, spices, black tea and toasted almonds. Both intense and complex on the palate it is powerful yet refined with a lengthy finish. Crescendo has great aging potential.
A sophisticated single variety Vermentino, straw yellow coloured with youthful green highlights. Enjoys an elegant and consistent aroma with hints of white flowers, grapefruit, pear, white peach and a pleasing minerality. Fresh and well balanced on the palate with a lingering light finish.
A warm light golden colour. Intense and elegant aromas come to the fore, ripe apricot, peach, citrus zest and minerality evolve into a hint of sweet spice. A generous, silky and balanced wine with an authentic personality. Remarkable aftertaste.
Today, Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja, CEO of both the Ornellaia and Masseto estates, announced a change in the management team for the two wineries. Vianney Gravereaux will join the team as Sales and Marketing Director alongside Axel Heinz, Estate Director, as of 1 April 2021. Tim Banks, who has held the position to date, will return to France, where he will continue to work in the wine world.
After nine years of close collaboration, Tim Banks receives a warm farewell: “I thank Tim personally for his professional contribution to the company’s success as well as his personal contribution in forming a team and relations, for which he will not be forgotten easily,” confirms Giovanni Geddes. “At the same time, I am delighted to continue this journey with Vianney. I’m certain that we will achieve new goals together.”
Vianney Gravereaux, French by birth but multilingual by vocation, has vast international experience in the fine wine world, which he honed while working for globally renowned brands such as Philipponnat, Salon and Peugeot Saveurs. Formerly International Sales Manager for Masseto, Gravereaux was asked to take on the new role, an offer which he has enthusiastically embraced: “When I visited Ornellaia a few years ago, I was astounded by the exceptional quality of the wines and the place where they are made. I never thought that I would become part of the impressive Masseto team in 2020 and that, only a year later, I would have been offered the role of Sales and Marketing Director for both estates. Continuing the work carried out by Tim Banks will be an exciting challenge, which I cannot wait to begin.”
Ornellaia’s current team consists of winemaker Olga Fusari and Brand Manager Greta Roscioni; Eleonora Marconi and Susanne Weber hold these positions respectively at Masseto. Elena Oprea is the Communications Manager across both brands.
Vibrant and expressive, released on 1st March
Many components define the style of Ornellaia, the renowned Bolgheri estate, but the underlying philosophy is reflected in all the wines produced on the estate. Le Volte dell’Ornellaia is no exception. A predominantly Merlot-based cuvée, Le Volte dell’Ornellaia 2019 is “a vibrant, expressive and well-balanced wine, the perfect introduction to Ornellaia for every wine lover”,according to estate director,Axel Heinz.
2019 was characterized by a highly variable climate, which alternated cold and wet spells with long bouts of drought and heat. After a normal winter, budbreak took place in the first week of April. The rainy conditions throughout April and May slightly delayed flowering compared to usual, but plant development recovered in June due to bright days. All summer long, the weather remained hot and sunny, except for two days of rain in late July, which readjusted the temperature to the seasonal norm with ideal conditions for the gradual and complete ripening of the grapes.
The harvest began with the Merlot on 5th September and the last of the Cabernet reached the cellar on 4th October. As usual, in the last week of September, falling temperatures preserved the vintage’s finesse and aromatic freshness. The different grapes were fermented separately in small steel tanks in order to maintain their varietal characteristics. The wine was then aged for 10 months, partly in barriques used previously for Ornellaia and partly in concrete tanks.
Versatile and immediate, “Le Volte dell’Ornellaia combines a Mediterranean expression of generosity with structure and complexity,” winemaker Olga Fusari comments. “With its bright ruby red, intense scents of red berries and rose petals are clearly distinguishable on the nose, while on the palate the taste is full-bodied and enveloping, characterized by dense tannins and a vibrant acidity which make this a pleasing and enjoyable wine”. Le Volte dell’Ornellaia 2019 will be available on all markets, ready to bring joy to wine lovers on these early sun-filled days.
While the spectacular eruption transfixes the world, Passopisciaro remembers its first vintage 20 years ago
The last two weeks put the spotlight on the world’s most active volcano: Etna.
The pyrotechnics included erupting fountains of lava that surged to 1,000 metres above the upper crater and incandescent flows that held the world media spellbound.
In this unique, always-restless environment, continuously providing intense excitement, grow some of Italy’s most prized vineyards. Passopisciaro, Etna’s iconic wine estate on its north slope, has for 20 years served as a benchmark for the area’s wine production. For it was here, exactly two decades ago, that the first harvest of the all-Nerello Mascalese Passorosso (than called Passopisciaro) arrived in the cellar and launched the local winemaking renaissance—thanks to Andrea Franchetti, the visionary who firmly believed in the quality of this volcanic earth and promoted the concept of Contrade wines, cru wines whose world-class quality he clearly foresaw.
Today, Passopisciaro produces five red Contrada wines: Rampante, Chiappemacine, Porcaria, Guardiola, and Sciaranuova, all ready to be released with the new 2019 vintage in June, while Passorosso, whose 2019 is scheduled for September, is a blend of all five, the quintessence of Franchetti’s style and a subtly-woven tapestry of these vineyards lying at up to 1,000 metres. The Chardonnay-based whites are Passobianco and the knife-edged Contrada PC, introduced two years ago, grown in a small sand-rich parcel at the highest part of the estate.
The Estate. Passopisciaro practices a precision viticulture obsessively respectful of nature, relying on 26 hectares of vineyards distributed over the north flank of Etna; most are planted to Nerello Mascalese, often un-grafted vines 80-100 years old, but there are Petit Verdot, Cesanese di Affile, and Chardonnay as well. In addition to Passorosso, Passobianco and the contrada crus, Passopisciaro’s portfolio boasts the prestigious Franchetti cuvée, composed of Petit Verdot and Cesanese d’Affile.
Andrea Franchetti also owns Tenuta di Trinoro, in Sarteano in Tuscany’s magnificent Val d’Orcia, famous for its legendary Bordeaux blend named after the estate.
Jan Fabre for Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista
“The 2018 vintage resulted in wines of particular harmony,” comments Axel Heinz, Estate Director of the Bolgheri winery. “Synergy and interaction among the varied terroirs on the estate created proportion and complexity. The outcome is a rounded and silky wine in which all the elements blend together in an expression of grace and beauty.” In tribute to this sense of proportion and symmetry, Axel Heinz has called the character of Ornellaia 2018 “La Grazia”.
Belgian artist Jan Fabre was called upon to interpret this trait in his role as an eclectic and innovative figure on the international art scene. Continually seeking convergences across a range of disciplines, Fabre offers an original and personal interpretation of visual art, taking cues from theatre, literature and the world of symbolism.
Ornellaia 2018 “La Grazia” is the expression of a perfectly balanced vintage. After unusually hot, dry seasons, the earth finally received the rainfall and winter cold needed to rest and reset the vine’s lifecycle. The spring enjoyed occasional showers, which renewed the protective layer of the vineyard, while the summer proved dry, encouraging fruit set and culminating in veraison on clear, sunny days in late July. Healthy grapes benefitting from a superb balance of acidity and sugars were harvested between 31 August and 8 October.
Taking inspiration from Ornellaia 2018 “La Grazia” as a “divine gift of nature and a balance of symmetry and proportion,” Jan Fabre used his trademark style and coral, the precious golden red of the Gulf of Naples, for the sculptures that top three Salmanazars (9 litres): A Candle of Mercy, The Crown of Kindness, and The Heart of Virtue. “I believe that art should conciliate ethical values and aesthetic principles,” explains the Belgian artist. “For this reason, I decided to use forms such as the heart, crown, candle and wings in the sculptures for Ornellaia 2018. These are symbols of passion, virtue and purity, which come alive by means of twigs and red coral pearls; in “A Candle of Mercy” or “The Heart of Virtue” they liquefy, like the melting grace of Ornellaia wine.”
In addition to the coral artworks for the 111 precious large formats of Ornellaia, Jan Fabre has also designed a special label for the 750ml bottles and a site-specific installation for the winery’s dining room Orciaia: a set of drawings inspired by the sculptures and their symbolism.
Accompanied by the other large formats, only one of the three Salmanazars of Ornellaia 2018 “La Grazia”, which was named by the artist “The Crown of Kindness”, will be auctioned by Sotheby’s in September 2021. Collectors around the world will be able to place bids online on the lots and have their purchases delivered directly from the evocative Bolgheri winery.
For the third consecutive year, profits will be given to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s “Mind’s Eye” project.
Jamie Ritchie, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Wine says: “This is our 13th partnership with Ornellaia for their annual Vendemmia d’Artista project, which is so special to us because it supports worthy artistic causes and combines the brilliance of the estate’s wines with the visual ingenuity of the artists who take part. With its emphasis on the senses, the Mind’s Eye project has been the ideal beneficiary these past three years. We look forward to offering a range of bottles from the 2018 vintage “La Grazia”, illustrated by Jan Fabre, in our online sale later this year, headlined, as ever, by a unique Salmanazar. As in previous years, we expect the lots to attract an international group of bidders who wish to purchase these exclusive bottles and enjoy unique experiences.”
The profits made by Vendemmia d’Artista allow the Mind’s Eye program to be extended both on site at the Guggenheim as well as online and ensure that its excellence continues to guide museum programming in different parts of the world.
“With the continued support of Ornellaia, the Guggenheim has been able to amplify the reach and resonance of our Mind’s Eye program,” said Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. “Ornellaia has helped us remain connected to our visitors through increased access programming and the creation of a new digital sensory guide that shares the experience of being at the museum with an ever-widening global audience. We speak for the many beneficiaries of Ornellaia’s generosity in expressing real gratitude.”
Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja, CEO of the Bolgheri winery says: “Since the introduction of Vendemmia d’Artista project in 2009, we have donated more than 2 million euros. It is deeply rewarding to see the program develop and know that the work we are doing gives the blind and persons with low vision an opportunity to discover contemporary art through the use of the senses. At the same time, the Mind’s Eye program will soon offer the possibility to extend the same model not only to other museums belonging to the Guggenheim Foundation, but also to art institutions in the rest of the world, thereby making art accessible to even more people.”
The year 2020 will always be connected to the COVID-19 virus appearance all over the world and, in particular for us, in Italy. Our lives – daily and family activities – either stopped altogether or slowed to a trickle. Mother Nature’s activity in the countryside did not stop and indeed showed us all its beautiful vigorous energy!
After a dry winter season characterized by a low rainfall, vines began to sprout in late March, during very cold days. These low and freezing temperatures, even below zero, caused moderate damage in our vineyards located at the bottom of the valley, and consequently a 15-20 per cent reduction in grape production.
Spring season gave us warm and sunny days, with temperatures above the seasonal average. We worked our vineyards following the vine’s vegetative cycle. We tied the shoots to the support wires, we removed secondary buds formed on the vine stock, and as needed, we made phytosanitary organic treatments to support the growth phase and ensure our vineyards’ good health.
The blooming period was delayed to the second half of May. This brought an excellent result favored by a good climatic trend, with warm, dry and slightly windy days. Th fruit set was excellent and produced optimum new young clusters.
Despite a fresh and rainy June, the Summer season started, bringing very high temperatures, especially in August, when we had extremely limited excursions between night and day temperatures.
This climatic trend caused water stress in the grapes, which we promptly solved by practicing drip irrigation during the hottest days and nights, according to the rules laid down by the production regulation.
Fortunately, such a dry season led an excellent ripening of our grapes: perfectly healthy, sound and very concentrated in fruity aromas.
Traditionally September would symbolize the beginning of Fall, but instead, as has happened in the past few years, this 2020 vintage has seen an extension of the Summer.
The first two weeks were very balanced, with sunny weather and mild daily temperatures, and our 2020 Harvesting Season began on September 14th with the Merlot grapes in our small vineyards; followed, in the third week, by the harvesting of Sangiovese. Late September brought fresh temperatures and some rainfalls, that allowed our Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab. Franc and Syrah grapes to reach an optimum ripening to be harvested in first ten days of October.
Thanks to the optimal climate trend that improved week by week, we can say that we had a quality 2020 Harvest: delivering very promising grapes, especially for medium to long aging red wines.
With great optimism, we welcome the gifts of nature and, contrary to the negative world economic situation, we have a renewed enthusiasm as we now are patiently working the musts, which begin to take shape, telling us a new stimulating story: the story of our new wine.