Ladies and Gentlemen, wine lovers from all over the world, come with me as we explore the new 2018 vintage of Ornellaia. It’s no coincidence that Ornellaia has selected La Grazia, Italian for Grace, as the character to describe this new Ornellaia vintage.
One of Italy’s most iconic wines selected February 10th for their world premiere of their new 2018 vintage. The launch took place in the winery’s spectacular new Aquilone room on the grounds of the fabled Frescobaldi wine estate in southern Tuscany.
Ah, the Aquilone room. Recalling a favorite childhood toy, my kite (aquilone is the Italian word in fact for kite), this new tasting room promises to be on every wine lover’s bucket list for a special tasting and visit.
When you step into Ornellaia’s newest hospitality space, the Aquilone’s kite-like shape and gigantic windows makes every breath a fresh and inspiring sensation. And thankfully for us all, this is the exact location where Ornellaia’s newest vintage was inaugurated.
ORNELLAIA 2018: INTENSE RUBY-RED COLOR AND PLEASANT SPONTANEOUS NOSE
At first glance, Ornellaia 2018 presents a graceful, deep ruby-red jewel toned wine. Its spontaneous nose of red berries and Mediterranean herbs brings with it a subtle touch of liquorice with a refined spicy note.
Arriving to the palate, we encounter an extremely fine velvet texture that delightfully impresses itself on the senses. The luxurious finesse of the wine’s body delivers an immediate sensation of pleasure with an intriguing and intimate feeling of beauty.
The new Ornellaia dazzled me, particularly given its Merlot content. For the first time ever, the Merlot grapes have outshone their Cabernet Sauvignon brothers, clocking in with a 51% share of the blend. That’s a striking 11 point increase compared with past vintages. The remaining 9% of the blend is Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot.
Ornellaia Estate Director Axel Heinz described the vintage, and indicated “we weren’t expecting this vintage to turn so silky, elegant and proportioned. The first tasting wasn’t showing such “grace,” it was only after the final blend the the wine started to show its true nature and its character was displayed fully to all of us!”
Olga Fusari, Ornellaia’s very talented and modest wine-maker spoke about the elegant balance between the fruit and aromatic herbs, clearly reflective of the beautiful Mediterranean forest located mere miles between the vines and the sea!
THE BEAUTY: THE SEA AND EARTH UNITE ARTIST JAN FABRE AND THE GUGGENHEIM
Speaking of the sea, it’s precisely here that Belgian artist, Jan Fabre, selected the main element for the 13th edition of the Vendemmia d’Artista: three beautiful coral decorations for 3 salmanazar bottles, named A Candle of Mercy, The Crown, and The Heart of Beauty.
“An homage to Neapolitan craftsmanship,” said Maria Alicata, while Bartolomeo (both art curators for The Vendemmia d’Artista project) explained how the Fabre’s main concept of La Grazia represents the relationship between Beauty & Meaning.
“The project started with the 2006 vintage, The Exuberance,” said Ornellaia CEO, Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja, “and throughout the years, we have donated over 2 million dollars thanks to our wonderful collaboration with Sotheby’s. Thankfully, this didn’t stop even during the pandemic, thanks to even more generous than ever online auctions.”
As of 2019, this project has found one permanent home with the Mind’s Eye program of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum & Foundation. “With the continuous support of Ornellaia, we will increase the expansion of the Mind's Eye program’s opportunities for blind and low vision people to enjoy art,” commented Richard Armstrong, Program Director, in a live presentation from New York.
WINE AND ART, THE DEVOTION OF THE FRESCOBALDI FAMILY
"The relationship between wine and art is something deeply rooted within the DNA of the Frescobaldi family,” Marchese Ferdinando Frescobaldi, president of the Ornellaia company, related calmly and happily.
“Today Ornellaia has 13 art installations, and has become a cradle of Contemporary Art in Tuscany. Here, we enjoy a total harmony with nature thanks to the our team of people who take care of this on a daily basis,” Frescobaldi concluded.
A team of extremely dedicated people, that’s what I believe is the secret ingredient for Ornellaia’s unbelievable success. A winery that manages, since its birth in 1985, to become not only one of Italy’s top three wine brands, but an actual world wine leader must have a magical team behind it.
Of course to make fine wines, the perfect terroir just like that found on the Tuscan coast of Bolgheri is necessary, and the area’s cool slopes and Mediterranean sunlight are also fundamental ingredients of these spectacular wines. There’s no denying that the right blend of nature’s bounty and a dedicated staff’s engagement and interaction with each other will yield the results we were honored to experience today.
I am absolutely beyond grateful to have been invited to experience this once-in-a-lifetime wine event first-hand!