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Spotlight On: Ornellaia 1997, 1998 & 2001

John Siudut
Posted: February 27, 2008

The Bolgheri region located on the western coastline of Tuscany produces some of the top-scoring and best-known Italian wines. Two of those, the 100 percent Merlot Masseto and the Bordeaux-style blend Ornellaia, are made by the same estate: Tenuta dell'Ornellaia. The Masseto has received the lion's share of the attention recently, with the 2001 (100 points, $250 release price) trading at the $800 mark and the 2004 (98 points, $250 release price) garnering another top score. The release of the 2004 Ornellaia (97 points, $150 release price), the highest rated Ornellaia to date, however, should remind buyers that several high-quality vintages of that wine, namely the 2001 (95 points, $145 release price, $113 current price) and the 1998 (96 points, $110, $147), can be found for comparatively discounted prices on the auction market.

As with the Sassicaia 1998, the 1998 Ornellaia may be overshadowed by the reputation of 1997's "golden vintage" in Italy. The 1998 Ornellaia, which is trading at a 40 percent discount to the 1997 (95 points, $100, $232) despite being the more highly rated wine, presents a particularly good buying opportunity for those in the market to add a maturing Italian wine to their cellar.

The 2001 Ornellaia is entering the beginning of its drink window, and after a short rise in price to around $175, has been trading recently at an average of $113, well below its release price. The NYWinesChristie's March 15 sale has two six-bottle packs in the original wood cases on the block for an estimated $1,200 to $1,600, or $100 to $133 per bottle.

This data comes from the Wine Spectator Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions. This chart plots the average price of Ornellaia 1997, 1998 and 2001.

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