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“The sun-filled, early-maturing 2011 vintage perfectly expresses the qualities of Ornellaia. The wine appears an intense, youthful ruby red. The nose offers rich fruit that is fully ripe yet at the same time crisp and lively, backgrounded by delicate nuances of balsam and toastiness. On the palate, the powerful concentration immediately impresses, as do the tannins, massive yet silk-smooth and glossy, which allows the wine to completely fill the mouth but with no feeling of heaviness. The finish, near endless, is deliciously pungent and spicy, with a welcome crispness throughout.”
Axel Heinz – May 2013
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.
To interpret the distinctive theme selected for the 2011 harvest, Infinity, Ornellaia invited Canadian artist Rodney Graham to create an artwork and exclusive wine labels, each individually hand-signed by the artist, that adorn the 111 large-format bottles of Ornellaia: 100 3-litre Double Magnums, 10 6-litre Imperials, and 1 one-of-a-kind 9-litre Salmanazar. Graham, embracing the poetic theme Infinity as well as that of wine as a fountain of inspiration for both the senses and the soul, created poems that were then printed on the labels, using traditional printing procedures, with the painstaking attention and expertise classic to Italian art craftsmanship. The 100 Double Magnums bear a poem enclosed in a geometrical, normally-shaped label, while the 10 Imperials and the single Salmanazar are each adorned with a different poem and a different-contoured label, which make each individual bottle an artwork unto itself. In addition, Graham collected all of the poems into a numbered and signed art-book entitled Short Poems of Merit, which will accompany each bottle.
“For the Ornellaia commission I decided to approach the challenge of creating an artist's label by taking on the persona of a poet, in this case an author of light verse. Wine and Poetry. Some of the poems I wrote are about wine, some are written under the influence of it. A few rhyme and all are written in a humorous vein,” said Rodney Graham. “I explored various typographic and layout possibilities in the texts and these led to the individual geometric shapes that form the eleven different labels”.
“Following the success of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Ornellaia,” stated Ornellaia CEO Giovanni Geddes, “Vendemmia d’Artista now reaches its 6th edition. That means that the art commissions that marry together art and wine continue to donate to the restoration of art on an international level. We have succeeded, in just five years, in donating more than one million euros across the globe. That may seem just a drop in the ocean, but we are committed to further growth.”
“Ornellaia 2011, an immensely heady, powerful bouquet of bilberries and wild herbs, intense and emphatic,” wrote Serena Sutcliffe, MW, Head of Sotheby’s International wine department. “Great chocolate flavours, with the tannin enveloped by glycerol. The whole Mediterranean in a bottle.”
"Bolgheri is today one of the most famous spots to produce wine in the world. Everybody remembers the fantastic 2001 vintage,” remarked Michel Rolland, international winemaking consultant. “Ten years after, 2011 is as amazing as 2001 was. But we are working better, and 2011 seems to me more sophisticated."
“Wine, just as people, distinguishes itself by its originality, and every vintage has the capacity to transmit a unique character. Within a defined Ornellaia style, our focus is to identify, consolidate and enhance the distinct trait of each vintage,” affirmed Axel Heinz, Winemaker and Director of Production of ORNELLAIA, pointing out that “With the 2011 vintage, Ornellaia returns to a typically Mediterranean expression of Bolgheri’s terroir. In a particularly sunny and dry vintage, but without any excess, Ornellaia 2011 has allowed us to reach a perfect level of ripeness, offering a dense wine with great aromatic intensity, but at the same time elegant, complex, and perfectly balanced. The palate impresses with great concentration and an impressive tannic structure, but the tannins remain lithe and velvety, allowing the wine to expand on the palate without any feeling of heaviness.”
Canadian Rodney Graham has won deep respect for the rigorously intellectual quality of his art, which ranges through photography, film, video, music, sculpture, painting, and writing. Graham’s work analyses social systems and philosophies of thought, with particular reference to the Enlightenment and Modernism. Each individual work bears the hallmarks of an historical context, which embeds a complex narrative incorporating literary and philosophical references as well as visual word games.
To interpret L’Infinito of Ornellaia 2011, (www.ornellaia.it - http://www.ornellaia.com/it/#vendemmia), the artist drew inspiration from wine itself, which impels thought towards infinite creative possibilities, such as poetry. The poetic composition claims a role that exceeds the power of perception, a concept that allows us to arrive at infinity. Graham represented Canada at the Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte la Biennale of Venezia in 1997, and numerous international museums have dedicated personal shows to his works, including the Hamburger Kunsthalle, the Musée d’Art Contemporain in Montréal, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Art Curators of Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista are Maria Alicata and Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, ex-Director of Rome’s Museo Macro di Roma and of the Italian pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia.
The sources of Graham’s inspiration are as varied as 19th-century scientific experimentation, pop culture of the 1980s, and all of literature, while he often pays tribute in his works to those who have influenced his life and oeuvre, including Sigmund Freud, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, the Brothers Grimm, Richard Wagner, and Stéphane Mallarmé.
Among Graham’s most important group of works is a series of photographs of upside-down trees, which both summon up the origins of photography itself, conjuring up the inverted and reversed images created by the early camera obscuras, as well as draw attention to the process of rationalisation whereby we frame and define our vision of the world. The work that Graham created for Ornellaia is an upside down photo of the century-old oak at Bellaria, on the Ornellaia wine estate.
In the words of the artist himself, “You don’t have to delve very deeply into modern physics to realize that the scientific view holds that the world is really not as it appears. Before the brain rights it, the eye sees a tree upside down in the same way it appears on the glass back of the large format field camera I use. I chose the tree as an emblematic image because it is often used in diagrams in popular scientific books and because it was used in Saussure’s book on linguistics to show the arbitrary relation between the so-called signifier and the signified.”