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“The 2012 growing season was characterised by an abundance of sunny, dry weather; some rain did fall as well, but it occurred in just the right periods, before the harvest, and helped the vines to cope with the hot, dry conditions. The result was an even, consistent ripening process that in the end yielded generous, full-volumed wines that are remarkably appealing and seductive, with an overall character that we like to define with the word Incanto (‘Enchantment’). Ornellaia 2012 appears a deep ruby, and a remarkably beguiling bouquet boasts rich fruit and spices notes. The palate shows well-rounded, full, and generous, with glossy tannins and a complete absence of any roughness. The 2012 lacks none of the proverbial concentration that distinguishes Ornellaia’s, great vintages, but this vintage adroitly masks that richness behind an expansive, magisterial structure, then concludes with a near-endless finish.” – winemaker Axel Heinz, May 2014
Wine critic scores:
Wine Advocate 94
Wine Spectator 91
James Suckling 97
Antonio Galloni 94+
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.
Blend: 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petit Verdot
Vintage: 2012 was a dry growing year, like 2011, with the scarcity of water already evident during a cold, dry winter. At budbreak, which occurred normally, a water deficit of some 100mm, compared to the multi-year average, was already evident. A mild, sunny spring brought good vine growth, with a rapid, consistent flowering. July and August were hot and almost rain-free, leading to fears of arrested ripening due to lack of water. However, veraison was completely normal and satisfactory. A few spells of rain in late August and early September increased the momentum of the ripening, and the fruit achieved fine overall ripeness, with optimal levels of aromatics and polyphenols. The harvest for Merlot took place between 29 August and 17 September; it began on 18 September for Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot in the younger vineyards, and concluded with Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the oldest vineyards.
Winemaking: The clusters were hand-picked into 15-kg boxes and then graded and selected by hand on a double sorting table, before and after destemming, and finally soft-pressed. Each grape variety and single vineyard block was vinified separately. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks at temperatures between 26-30°C for one week, followed by 10-15 days of maceration on the skins. The malolactic fermentation took place primarily in oak barriques, 70% new and 30% once-used. The wine then remained in barriques, in Ornellaia’s temperature-controlled cellars for about 18 months. After the first 12 months of maturation, the wine was assembled and then returned to the barriques for an additional 6 months. After bottling, the wine aged a further 12 months prior to release.