There is very little that separates Ornellaia from Sassciaia, least of all their history. Mario Incisa della Rocchetta (then owner of Sassicaia) planted vines in the 1940s, reportedly using vines from Lafite Rothschild. Ornellaia was planted in 1981 by Marchese Lodovico Antinori, cousin to Nicolo Incisa (the son of Mario). It is located adjacent to Sassciaia on the northern Maremma section of Bolgheri, overlooking the Tyrrhenian sea and is the answer to his cousin’s estate, Sassicaia.
In 1985 they released their first vintage, but did not fully compete with Sassicaia until the late 90s, since which time it has fought to supplant Sassicaia as the leading Super Tuscan. Over the last 15 years it has produced wine that critically speaking has equalled if not bettered Sassicaia and the price now reflects this. It also produces 12,000 cases compared to Sassicaia’s 15,000 and only one third goes to the Italian market; such is its international acclaim.
In 2010 it has once again outscored Sassicaia, if only by one point. However the game changer is that in 2010 Ornellaia commissioned Michelangelo Pistoletto to design the bottle to commemorate the 25th anniversary. Pistoletto garnered global acclaim in the 60s with his Mirror paintings, considered fundamental to the birth of Arte Povera. The bottle design reflects this and stands out from the crowd (in the same way that Mouton Rothchild’s 2000 bottle does) with its elegant black and special silk-screened gold and ivory logo.
Unlike the Bordelais, Tuscan producers and Italy in general do not keep stock back, releasing it all onto the global market straight away. We can therefore measure the market’s reaction. Parcels of Ornellaia 2010 are already very hard to come by and we have managed to source a meagre six half cases; very few people will ever want to resale. Mouton’s 2000 label is an indicator of the increased value created by a commemoration bottle, a vintage that trades at £10,500 a case, three times higher than Mouton’s average case price.
The exceptional quality of the Ornellaia 2010 vintage (with 2009, 2008 and 2006 it is their highest ever scoring vintage), the collector’s bottle and the shortfall in global demand makes £650 a half case extremely compelling. This is unquestionably a wine to collect and savour or potentially resale for a profit. Once consumed the bottle can also adorn a cellar or gallery as a memory to a wine enjoyed and as a piece of art.
“One of the highlights of the vintage on the Tuscan coast, the 2010 Ornellaia is dazzling. A tightly wound, powerful wine, the 2010 is going to need a few years in the cellar to show the full breadth of its potential and class. Still, it is impossible to miss the wine’s pure pedigree and class. Freshly cut flowers, mocha, tobacco, grilled herbs and plums burst from the glass in this beautifully layered, polished Ornellaia. The 2010 is vivid, nuanced and precise from start to finish. I can’t wait to see how it develops over the coming years. Today, the 2010 is all about precision, vibrancy and saline-infused energy. I very much like the way the wine continues to open up in the glass. In 2010 winemaker Axel Heinz increased the Merlot quite a bit in order to give the wine a little more richness, while Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, both challenged by the weather, were used sparingly. The 2010 is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot and dollops of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.” 97 Points Antonio Galloni
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