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Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore DOC is the estate's flagship wine which embodies the quality philosophy of the estate.
Tenuta dell'Ornellaia's production hilosophy is based upon the belief that wines must be the most faithful expression of the terroirs that produce them. The mild marine climate and the colours and aromas of the lush Mediterranean vegetation leave a special imprint upon the character of the wines. A respect for the estate's unique territory guides all aspects of production: limited quantities to ensure maximum quality, attention to every detail, selective hand harvesting, microvinification and ageing.
The Ornellaia vineyard totals 280 acres that are divided into more than 70 vineyard plots according to soil type, exposition and varietal. There are three major soil types: marine (sedimentary deposit from the sea), alluvial (marly, sandy clays with mineral veins), and volcanic (schist, gravel and porous soils). All the vineyards are about 3 miles from the Mediterranean shore. The mild maritime climate features sea breezes that keep the sky clear, low rainfall, and long summers that favor the development of aromatic compounds.
Vineyards are planted at high density, from 5,000-8,700 hl/ha, and feature several training systems – spur-pruned cordon, single Guyot, and head-pruned vines.
The clusters are hand-picked into 15-kg boxes and then go through a selection by hand on a double sorting table, both before and after destemming, and grapes are finally softly crushed. Each grape variety and single vineyard block is vinified separately. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at temperatures between 26-30°C for two weeks, followed by 10-15 days of maceration on the skins. The malolactic fermentation takes place mainly in oak barrels, 70% new and 30% once-used. The wine then remains in barriques, in Ornellaia’s temperature- controlled cellars, for about 18 months. After the first 12 months of maturation, the wine is assembled and then returned to the barriques for an additional 6 months. After bottling, the wine ages a further 12 months prior to release.
Winter saw temperatures that were milder than those in 1999 but colder than in 1998. Budbreak occurred in early April, and despite some rain results were quite positive and uniform overall. Spring brought normal temperatures and sunny days, with flowering over by mid-May. Sun-filled days characterised the summer, right up to harvest-time, with no rainfall and well-above-average temperatures. Growth stages in the vineyards proceeded at an optimal pace. In mid-July, cluster-thinning was carried out, removing some 30% of the Merlot and 10% of the Cabernet Sauvignon, ensuring that the remaining clusters would develop to their fullest quality potential. The Merlot harvest began in the first week in September and carried through to mid-month. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc began to be picked towards mid-September and finished in early October. This year’s harvest was noteworthy for its above-average temperatures and total lack of rainfall. All the grapes were hand-picked into small, 15-kg boxes.