Production philosophy revolves around Ornellaia’s obsession with excellence – at all levels. Every choice they make is of absolute importance and implies an all-consuming attention to detail. At no point in the production process are shortcuts allowed or tolerated, and this is how they succeed harvesting grapes that are of the very highest quality irrespective of the climatic conditions in that particular year.
During the harvest period analysis and empiric testing enables them to determine which grapes to pick and in which order. The tasting of the grapes allows them to better ascertain the ripeness of the tannins and the balance within the bunches in order to establish the optimum harvest time and the vinification technique for the grapes from each parcel of land. We then subject each and every grape to a double selection process. On the first table the quality of the bunches is checked, while during a second control every single piece of vegetation is removed.
The grapes from each vineyard ferment separately in individual tanks, in this way each individual base wine (of which there are more than 60) contributes its own character to creation of the final blend according to the specific conditions of the vineyard area from which it comes: a combination of soil type, climatic exposition, grape variety, … Only after a period of 12 months of ageing in French oak barrels will the base wines be selected and blended according to 2 principal criteria: the elegant expression required by Ornellaia and the character of vintage itself.
Semi-concealed in the foothills near Bolgheri, Ornellaia lies just a few kilometres from the Mediterranean coast. During the summer months, the cool sea breeze caresses the vineyards and nearby olive groves, while during the winter the hills provide protection from the cold north winds. Ornellaia believes that a wine should be the most authentic expression of the terroir from which it originates and it is right here that, together with the maritime climate, the heterogeneous nature of the land and the estate – of marine, alluvial and volcanic origin – creates a distinct environment where red and white varieties can best express themselves.
The endless parcels of vineyards fit well into this unspoilt landscape like tesserae in a large mosaic, creating a work of extraordinary beauty, complexity and elegance in a truly unique place. Experience, expertise and determination have played their part in enhancing Ornellaia’s quality and reputation, but it is the estate itself that is a constant source of inspiration and which constantly suggests new and exclusive ways to capture its great generosity.
At Ornellaia they firmly believe that a great wine can only be made with grapes picked precisely at the right time within the conditions of each specific vintage. They rely on patient observation of the vineyard and meticulous tasting of the berries in order to ﬁnd the moment when the grapes express their full aromatic potential and develop the rich and silky texture of tannins, while keeping freshness and brilliance. Each vineyard is approached as a single individual while every grape is subject to a double selection to ascertain the quality of the bunches and remove every single piece of vegetation.
In the cellar
The cellar is the continuation of the vineyard. Here as well each vineyard is treated as an individual, vinified separately, with the objective to express the specific character of its parcel. Again the palate is their main tool, the daily tasting of the fermenting wines allow them to adapt extraction and maceration time to each of the 70 to 80 base wines, that will mature separately in small French oak barrels, before being selected and blended to achieve a subtle balance: expressing the specific character of the vintage while keeping Ornellaia’s voluptuous elegance.
Sustainable viticulture is an integral part of their production philosophy and is based on the economic longevity of structures and territories, the qualitative production and the enhancement of the heritage and landscape of the Bolgheri area along with its historical, cultural and ecological aspects. At Ornellaia, the concept of environmental sustainability, understood as the use of the soil’s natural fertility, can be identified in various practices and limited measures implemented in their vineyards, with the aim of promoting the biodiversity of the species cultivated. These include the protective management of the soil to maintain its integrity and fertility, management of the plant to achieve self-regulation and the adoption of defence systems with a low environmental impact that stimulate the vine’s natural defences. Minimising interventions and external inputs both in the vineyard and in the cellar makes it possible to bring out the “terroir” and the capacity for expression of every single vineyard.
All this is possible thanks to a human heritage of inestimable importance, which grows every day thanks to the encouragement and appropriate training of in-house staff.