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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.
Climate and Harvest
Winter 2001 was characterised by mild temperatures and a higher than average rainfall. Budding was earlier than average and occurred during the last days of March and beginning April. Spring saw moderate temperatures and above average rainfall. Flowering started halfway through May with the Merlot and finished at the end of the month with the Cabernet Sauvignon. The Summer 2001 growing season was within the norm with average temperatures and only a small amount of seasonal rainfall. The fine conditions enabled the grapes to develop uniformly. Early July the grapes were thinned; Merlot (about 30%,) followed by Cabernet Sauvignon (about 10%), to ensure that the remaining grapes ripened under the optimal conditions. The weather continued fine throughout the harvest period with warm sunny days and cool nights. Harvesting of the Merlot started in the younger vineyards in the first few days of September. An interruption was then made for about a week while tannins ripened to optimal levels in the more mature vineyards, and continued until the middle of September. The harvest of the Cabernet Sauvignon started in the third week of September and was concluded on the 5th of October.