While Italy has an extensive wine-producing history of more than a century, the district of Bolgheri located along the coast of Tuscany in the northwest province of Livorno, has only become recognized as a wine territory in recent years, with the first red wine being produced in the 1940s.
With a relatively young yet prestigious Italian appellation, the history of Bolgheri wines started in 1944, when the first Cabernet vineyard was planted. Since the end of the 1980s, wines of great value have been produced: the whole territory is extraordinarily suited to the cultivation of the Bordeaux vines, which on the Tuscan coast seem to have found their second homeland. Bolgheri has a specific microclimate, due to the vicinity of the sea, which is particularly suitable for growing international grapes varieties, especially Cabernet Sauvignon. First of all, the water surface of the sea serves as a mirror for the sunlight, which is projected on the land. This incredible luminosity helps the correct and complete ripening of the grapes. Furthermore, the sea influence, with its breezes, mitigates the climate. This brings refreshment in the summer and warmth in the winter. This means that in Bolgheri, the climate is never extreme.
Different Bordeaux varietals are planted here, and in the case of Bolgheri wines in general, it could be said that these wines are a different expression of grape varietals used in other parts of the world, notable in the Bordeaux area. In fact, the wines produced here have a distinctive style and expression that makes them ‘Bolgheri wines’, rather than Bordeaux wines. A sort of ‘Mediterranean’ version, of the same grapes. Bolgheri wines in general are in fact a blend of Bordeaux vines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, often accompanied by Syrah, Petit Verdot and to a lesser extent Sangiovese.
The Super Tuscan term is often associated with red wines made from Bordeaux grape varieties, for which Bolgheri is best known. Super Tuscan Bolgheri have their own production rules. Each bottle can contain up to 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Cabernet Franc. Or, up to 50% Syrah or Sangiovese, and blended with a complimentary grape such as Petit Verdot (up to 30%). For Superiore labels, a wine must also be aged for at least two years with a minimum of one year in oak barrels. A Super Tuscan is, broadly speaking, a super-premium wine.
Fifty-two wineries now operate in Bolgheri. Many are boutique, small in size and independently owned. Ornellaia is one of the leading producers in the Bolgheri appellation. It is particularly known for making one of Italy's most famous, well-known and expensive wines. The Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore is a Bordeaux-style blend and one of the original Super Tuscans. It is made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with small quantities of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, instead of Tuscany's most famous variety, Sangiovese.
The vineyard benefits from the gentle sea breezes, which mitigate the summer heat, and is sheltered by neighbouring hills from cold winter winds. The soils are a complex mix of alluvial, volcanic and marine elements, providing a good base for the Bordeaux varieties planted here. After hand-picking and careful selection each variety and each vineyard block is vinified separately in stainless steel tanks. Ornellaia is aged for around 18 months in oak, 70 percent of which is new. The desire to nurture the estate’s exceptional qualities has shaped Ornellaia’s philosophy since the beginning.
Ornellaia 2019 is the best vintage for this vineyard. The 2019 vintage was characterized by a changeable climate. Periods of cold and rain alternated with long periods of drought and heat. After a volatile spring and an almost perfect summer, the drop in temperatures at the end of September resulted in wines with great finesse and richness of aromas. It reveals a powerful, mysterious and fascinating wine. A magic moment for the palate.