Deep ruby color; red berries, plum, rosemary, sage, rose petals on the nose; cherry, plum, redcurrant, pepper, spice on the palate.
Dry; dense but soft, yielding tannins; balancing acidity. Entry-level Super Tuscan blend of mostly merlot, abetted by cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese. Alcohol and malolactic fermentation occurred in stainless steel. Wine then spent 10 months in a combination of used oak barriques and cement tanks. Medium-plus body. This effort emphasizes the cherry and softness of merlot. Brings food-friendly freshness, but also is constructed, it seems, to be an inoffensive easy drinker. 13.5% ABV
The Ornellaia estate is located in Bolgheri near the Mediterranean Sea, 65 miles west of Siena. Although the first Super Tuscans appeared in the 1970s, Ornellaia pioneered wide distribution of Super Tuscans in 1985. 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 merlot, cabernet sauvignon, 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, but made to entice more parsimonious tipplers. 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 that includes 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 2019 is soft, supple, easy drinker with cherry flavors dominant. This is simple, straightforward wine. Its fruit-forward style and easy-going tannins will please many people, especially those put off by more complex, powerful reds. Pair with red meat dishes; pasta with a hearty beef ragù; barbecue; meat-lover pizza; meatloaf; Italian dishes with red sauces; lamb; wild game—venison; hamburgers and sliders; Philly cheesesteak. $20-23