Deep ruby color; cherry, plum, rosemary, flowers on the nose; plum, cherry, redcurrant, pepper, spice on the palate.
Dry; soft tannins; soft acidity. Medium-full body. Super Tuscan blend of mostly merlot, cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese. Alcohol and malolactic fermentation in stainless steel. Followed by 10 months in combination of oak barriques and cement tanks. Acidity hindered some by predominance of merlot, plus a wet vintage—significant rains from spring through late August harvest of the merlot, save for some heat and dryness in July. 14% ABV
Winemaker Olga Fusari notes: “Le Volte dell’Ornellaia 2018 perfectly reflects the characteristics of the vintage, revealing great elegance and balance. Its nose is wonderfully complex, very fruity with delicate floral and spicy notes. The tannic and smooth texture is striking on the palate, ending in a crisp and lively finish.”
Ornellaia pioneered Super Tuscan wines back in 1985, although the first Super Tuscans appeared in the 1970s. The Ornellaia estate is located in Bolgheri near the Mediterranean Sea, 65 miles west of Siena. Le Volte is Ornellaia’s second tier effort, their higher end bottles sell for $200 or more and are difficult to get. This is made in much larger amounts and priced to introduce you to quality Super Tuscan wines.
Super Tuscans were a revolution in Italian winemaking in Tuscany where sangiovese was the legally required grape in strictly controlled Chianti wines. The introduction of French grapes—particularly cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and syrah—initially was controversial. Winemakers coined the name Super Tuscan to distinguish their quality wines from the low-quality, vino da tavola label required when they did not follow strict Chianti rules.
Today, most Super Tuscans use the legal appellation of IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica), a designation between DOCG and vino da tavola. Interestingly, some Super Tuscans are 100% sangiovese but choose the Super Tuscan name because of where the wine is made and to avoid adhering to the rules governing Chianti. Super Tuscans typically are made in a big, rich style. They often cost more than $100. Ornellaia’s Le Volte is a classic Super Tuscan blend; in order to achieve the lower price, it is made in part with grapes that don’t qualify for their higher end wines.
Ornellaia has a fascinating history in the story of major players in modern wine. Flying winemaker Michel Rolland joined the winery as a consulting oenologist in 1991. They introduced Ornellaia Le Volte dell’Ornellaia two years later. In 1999, Robert Mondavi gained a minority share in Ornellaia, then gained full control in 2002, then transferred half of his interest to Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi. When Constellation Brands acquired Robert Mondavi in 2005, Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi gained full control of the winery.
The Frescobaldi family have been important players in Florence and Tuscany for more than 700 years. They began producing wine in Tuscany in 1308; some of their customers included Michelangelo and Henry VIII. In a foreshadowing of the Super Tuscan revolution, they began planting chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot vines in the region in 1855. They control Ornellaia today.
Ornellaia “Le Volte dell’Ornellaia” Toscana IGT 2018 is soft, supple, easy drinker with tasty red fruits leading the charge. Relatively simple, but its fruit-forward style and easy-going tannins will please many people, especially those put off by more complex, powerful red wines. Pair with red meat dishes; barbecue; meat-lover pizza; meatloaf; Italian dishes with red sauces; lamb; wild game—venison; hamburgers and sliders; Philly cheesesteak. $25-35