NEW YORK – We are delighted to launch Ornellaia’s new “Archivio Storico” collection through a series of auctions in New York, London and Hong Kong in the first half of 2016, with New York being the first of the three sales.
Ornellaia is a wine of our time, a contemporary legend that has been a privilege to follow as it was created, developed and as it soared to success. From its inception in 1985, it translated this stunning part of Tuscany into liquid form, bottles that would entrance wine lovers round the world, truly emblematic of this extraordinary region of Bolgheri.
Now, after the 30th harvest at Ornellaia, we are honoured to bring to auction Ornellaia Archivio Storico, a very limited quantity of library wines that have hitherto never left the property. There is a simple explanation for this rarity – demand always far outstripped supply, so these bottles are true ‘reserves’. I went to the estate in May 2015 to taste all the vintages offered and my tasting notes are thus ‘sul posto’.
Apart from the divine experience of tasting Ornellaia through the decades, this visit also gave me the opportunity to see once more the show-stopping topography of Bolgheri and the physical beauty of the Ornellaia estate. Granted that the approach to Bolgheri’s walled medieval hamlet is through an avenue of sky-seeking cypress trees, a cinematic moment of wonder but, then, walking through the property and its variegated plots, real understanding of the complexity and dimension of the wine becomes clear. When one can draw one’s eye away from the views, over to Elba and even to Corsica if the meteorological mood is right, the mixture of vineyards, woods and olive groves is equally spellbinding. There are microclimates and soil variations that are expertly exploited by those in charge of the Ornellaia taste, aided and abetted by the meticulous care executed in the cellar – as remarkably modern and superbly equipped as the Roman Aurelian coastal road is ancient! Each varietal and single vineyard block is vinified separately, creating a magic base for the blending twelve months later, the start of Ornellaia’s long, rewarding life. I always called Ornellaia ‘liquid landscape’ and it is the vinous expression of the land. In the ‘early days’, I sometimes thought that Ornellaia had an almost Château Margaux-like quality, with its fruit, breed and fine texture. However, these remarkable marine, alluvial and volcanic soils, allied to a maritime, Mediterranean climate, have found their own taste profile, a template on which each year’s weather pattern is indelibly engraved. As I tasted, this became increasingly apparent – Ornellaia, every year, has true vintage character, always the sign of a great wine.
There is another added variant to the wines as the years unfold. The original grape variety combination was Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc but, since 2003, a splash of Petit Verdot, a variety I adore, has been added. This is merely a contributory factor to the overall myriad scents and flavours of the wine, fascinating to follow as it ages in bottle. In this sale, this maturation has been done for you, in the very best circumstances. As we tasted all the vintages in this auction, we were amazed at the longevity of Ornellaia, a quality that is always apparent in the long, lingering finish of the wines.
Ornellaia has made history in its time and we have been the beneficiaries, as we have followed its progress and pulled corks, shared its vintages with friends and compared, swirled and, finally, swallowed – we must be honest here. Ornellaia is a wine of both joy and gravitas, pleasure and reflection. We can only aspire to age with its grace.