The winery is located in the municipality of Bolgheri in the Italian wine region of Tuscany. It was founded by Ludovico Antinori (a younger brother of the famous Piero) in 1981. The oenologists André Tchelistcheff (1901-1994) and Michel Rolland were involved in an advisory capacity in the creation of the first vineyards (previously woodland and pasture land) and the construction of the winery. The Hungarian oenologist Tibor Gál (1958-2005) was cellar master for several years. The first vintage was 1985, the first wines were marketed in 1988. In 2002 the winery was taken over in equal shares by the multinationals Mondavi (California) and Frescobaldi (Italy). After Mondavi was sold to Constellation Brands in 2005, Frescobaldi exercised its right of first refusal and took over 100% of Ornellaia. In 2012, the winery name was changed from "Tenuta dell'Ornellaia" to "Ornellaia e Masseto". Axel Heinz is responsible as the estate director and oenologist.
The vineyards cover 97 hectares of vineyards on stony, calcareous soil. They are located near the Ligurian coast in the immediate vicinity of the Sassicaia area (Bolgheri Sassicaia). They are planted with the red wine varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, and the white wine varieties Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Petit Manseng. The cultivation is carried out according to ecological conditions in order to preserve biodiversity (variety of species), taking sustainability into account. This includes planting vegetation, as little earth movement as possible, the use of natural fertilizers and no herbicides. During the grape harvest, the order of the individual harvest processes is determined through analysis and tasting. The method of vinification of the individual plots is determined by the maturity of the tannins. Through selective selection, only high quality grapes, free of all plant residues, are processed.
The approximately 80 base wines are fermented separately per vineyard in different tanks and mature for 12 months in French barriques. The red wine "Ornellaia" is cuvéttiert in Bordeaux style from the varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Besides the Sassicaia, this contributed to the fact that in the Bolgheri area the Rosso also received DOC honours. The second wine is called "Le Serre Nuove dell'Ornellaia". The product range also includes the Toscana IGT wines "Ornellaia Bianco" (Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier), "Poggio alle Gazze dell'Ornellaia" (mainly Sauvignon Blanc), "Le Volte dell'Ornellaia" (Marlot, Sangiovese, CS) and the pure Merlot "Masseto", named after the seven hectare vineyard in Bolgheri. Since the 2006 vintage, the bottles have been equipped with the RFID system as a protection against adulteration of the wine, which allows the traceability of the distribution and guarantees the authenticity. Grappa and olive oil are also produced.
Picture: © Jobst from Volckamer