California's Robert Mondavi Winery has purchased a minority stake in Tenuta dell' Ornellaia, one of Tuscany's outstanding producers. Though neither party disclosed the price, sources indicate that Mondavi invested about $12.6 million in the property, which is located in the Bolgheri region, along the Mediterranean coast.
For more than a year, Ornellaia owner Marchese Lodovico Antinori has been rumored to be seeking investors. One of the premier producers of nontraditional "super Tuscan" red wines, Antinori is best known for Ornellaia, a Cabernet blend, and Masseto, a Merlot.
"We've known and respected Lodovico Antinori for years," said Michael Mondavi, CEO of Robert Mondavi Winery. "He's a very creative guy who's done extraordinary things in the Bolgheri region. I want to stress that we'll have a minority share, and Lodovico will remain the guiding light and vision." Antinori will join a Mondavi advisory board focusing on the development of global marketing strategies, while Michael Mondavi will assume a position on the Tenuta dell' Ornellaia board.
The Ornellaia investment adds to Mondavi's growing list of international ventures, which include Seqa and Caliterra (Chilean projects in conjunction with the Eduardo Chadwick family of Viqa Errazuriz) and Lucente, Luce and Danzante (Tuscan wines produced with Marchesi de Frescobaldi). Opus One, in Oakville, Calif., is a partnership with Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, owner of Chbteau Mouton-Rothschild in Bordeaux.
Mondavi and Frescobaldi also announced their joint purchase of La Capitana, a property in the Morellino di Scansano DOC, in southern Tuscany. While Mondavi would not comment on the size of the transaction, Italian sources revealed that the 1,000-acre property cost $2 million.
La Capitana -- which will be planted primarily to Sangiovese, with some Merlot -- will be used as an estate vineyard for Lucente, which had previously been made from grapes from assorted Frescobaldi sites.
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