I have a fireplace in my kitchen in Tuscany that I can use in the winter for cooking, but during the summer it becomes my “resting ground” for thoroughly-enjoyed bottles served during various dinner at my place. The fireplace is full. Perhaps I am overdoing it this summer, or maybe I am simply drinking a lot of great wines with good friends? It’s probably a little bit of both!
Anyway, I am looking at a bottle of 1997 Ornellaia that I drank a few weeks ago during an outdoor dinner in my courtyard, and it was one of the best bottles all year for me. It was so wonderfully balanced and silky that I still remember it now as I write this. The wine showed fabulous aromas of currants, berries and minerals with just a hint of oak. It was full bodied and rich, yet everything was just about in the right place. Breathtakingly beautiful is the only way I could describe it, and I scored it 98 points, in what was, of course, a non-blind tasting. And I am happy I have a few more bottles in my cellar!
A few weeks before I pulled the cork on the bottle of 1997 Ornellaia, I visited the estate in Bolgheri with some friends from Hong Kong, and we tasted a small range of wines from the property – the Cabernet blend touting the name of the property as well as the pure-Merlot Masseto.
Here are my tasting notes. The wines from 2006 were made from lots of different grape types and from different vineyard sites that were aging in barrel. They will go into the blends of Ornellaia and Masseto as well as the second wine, Le Serre Nuove.
2004 Ornellaia: Subtle and complete aromas of currants, berries and hints of fresh rosemary. Full and very refined with firm yet silky tannins. Very long and balanced. Pure and beautiful. Best after 2012. Classic quality.
2003 Ornellaia: Lots of plum fruit and currants on the nose. Full and very thick with big juicy tannins and a long finish. Slightly one-dimensional but very, very fruity. Turns a little jammy but rich and chocolaty. Excellent if you give it time. Best after 2010. 92 points, non-blind.
2002 Ornellaia: Blackberry with some herb. Full bodied, with fresh fruit, fine tannins and a round and juicy finish. Fresh and very drinkable. 90 points, non-blind.
2001 Ornellaia: Aromas of blackberries, chocolate, mint, and fresh herbs. Balsmic. Full and racy with firm tannins and a long, long finish. Starting to come around. Structured and racy. Best after 2010. 96 points, non-blind.
2004 Masseto: Very complex aromas of blackberries, minerals, toasted oak. Crushed berries. Amazing reduced fruit on the nose, almost jammy. Full-bodied, with big juicy tannins with the layers of ultra-ripe fruit that cover everything. This is powerful and long with warming mouth feels. Super fruity. Super classy and exciting. Best after 2012. Classic quality.
2003 Masseto: Big and juicy. This is jammy but fresh and balanced. Lots of coffee and toasted oak. Full and velvety with a beautiful mouth feel. Lots of currants and blackberry jam. Loads of dried fruits as well as toasted oak and coffee. Impressive in a slightly exaggerated style. Best after 2010. 90 points, non-blind.
2002 Masseto: Lovely nose of mint, berry and mineral follow through to a full bodied palate, with fine tannins and a velvety finish. Balanced and almost read. This seems a little short. I have had 90 point bottles. Best after 2009. 88 points, non-blind.
2001 Masseto: So complex with plum, blackberry, mineral, hints of fresh herbs. So fresh and amazing. Full and very silky. Very, very closed yet long and caressing. A real beauty. The perfect wine. The nose is complex and beautiful. Tight and closed. This is very powerful and racy. Wonderful and powerful tannin structure. Best after 2015. 100 points, non-blind.
The next set of wines is from the barrel, so forgive my free association on some of them. Also, I think that 2006 is going to be sensational for Ornellaia, but let’s wait and see after the blends are made.
1. 2006 Merlot: This is from a vineyard near the town of Bolgheri. Pretty fruit with berry and chocolate character and minerals. Medium to full-bodied, chewy tannins. Short finish. Good quality.
2. 2006 Merlot: This is from the Bellaria vineyard. This has much more fruit than sample number 1, and mineral character with plums and dark chocolate. Full and very long, with chewy and velvety tannins. Almost classic quality.
3. 2006 Merlot: This is from the Masseto Centrale vineyard. Violets and berries with intense raspberry and mineral. Fab nose. Full-bodied, with wonderfully refined tanins and a medium finish. A little hollow but very aromatic. Excellent quality.
4. 2006 Merlot: This is from Masseto Alto. Brown sugar and mineral with hints of rosemary and tarragon. Fabulous concentration and richness with wonderful tannins. Very long and superb. Classic.
I blended the two, Alto and Centrale, together, and I was blown away. It had amazing length and tannin structure. Goes on and on and on. This is 2001 in the remake but perhaps a little more elegant. Masseto could do it again.
5. 2006 Cabernet Franc: This is from Bellaraia. I like the fruit in this and silky tannins but finish a little herbal and funky. Good but nothing special.
6. 2006 Cabernet Franc: This comes from old vines and the vineyard is near the old vine Merlot for Masseto. This is very, very serious with licorice tar and berry character. Ultra chewy and powerful. Massive and so Ausone-like. Classic quality.
7. 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. This comes from Bellaria. This is light and fruit but very simple. Not much to it. Good quality.
8. 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon: This is from Bellaria Alto, and delivers wonderful clean and fruity character. Full body and powerful tannins. Massive and super long. Great wine. Excellent quality.
9. 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon: This comes from Vigna Poggio. It shows wonderful rich fruit but at the same time, it is a little oxidized. Beautiful tannins. Wait and see. Very good.
10. 2006 Petit Verdot: This is very fruity for a PV, with loads of licorice and tar. Intense. Full bodied, with silky and refined tannins. It goes on and on. This is very very beautiful and structured. Goes on and on. Classic quality.
Albert Jochems — The Netherlands — August 8, 2007 9:33am ET
Allison Levy — London — August 28, 2007 12:15pm ET
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