An invite from the UK agent to a tasting of Ornellaia from 1990-2010 was only ever going to get one reply...a big YES. The wines were presented by General manager Leonardo Raspini and Winemaker Axel Heinz at Sotheby's. I am not going to launch into background here as Ornellaia is well known and there are a lot of good profiles etc "out there". They also have a good site www.ornellaia.com.
The tasting started with two vintages of Le Serre Nuove which is a true second wine in the same sense as Bordeaux. It is a blend of sites that don't quite make it into the first wine and production is circa 30,000 bottles. The first vintage was 1997.
Le Serre Nuove 2010 - Leather and spice, dark fruit that is subdued and then tobacco. It is big and rich, expressive in the savoury sense, cocoa, mocha and bruised brown fruits. Good length, good grip that is may be overly dominant right now. It possible needs more clearly defined fruit but for a second wine in what was a tricky (cool and damp) vintage it is good, 15/20.
Le Serre Nuove 2004 - Lovely ripe fruits as well as sweet tobacco. Soft palate, lovely, open with great balance, nothing harsh but some gentle grip, drinking well now and over the next 3-5 years, really lovely, 17+/20.
Ornellaia 2010 - Closed but serious, brooding even, deep and savoury. Big classy tannins, nothing lush here, masculine. Elements of mocha and cocoa but no harshness. 17/20. The cool climate shows and I think it is crucial that they didn't over-oak. Interesting to follow this wine.
Ornellaia 2009 - Could not have been more different from 2010 in vintage character. 2009 harvest was end of August to 12 Sept where 2010 started on the 13t Sept. This was obviously a very hard wine to make and control. I may possibly have got this wrong but to me it was the weak link. Bruised but stewed fruit, some warmth and volatility (not necessarily a bad thing). On the palate is was a bit spread out and loose which meant the tannins were a bit exposed. 15/20. Decent but not expressive or exciting.
Ornellaia 2008 - Lovely dense but expressive nose, good life and vibrancy. Has a nice softness to the mid-palate. Power and tannin at the end of the palate. Needs 2-3 years, nice sweetness after a while in glass. 17+/20.
Ornellaia 2007 - Bruised sweet fruit and new leather sweetness. Open and out there. Quite sexy and approachable without being too much (many 07's are too much!). It has structure but a nice easy soft one. A savoury finish, good length. An Ornellaia for the decadent. 17-18/20.
Ornellaia 2004 - A decent production in 2004 as 2003 had been so small. This was my wine of the tasting. Having had the 2004 Serre Nuove it was always likely to be good. The fruit is redder and sweet, the leather and oak a perfect balance for the fruit. Very fresh and vibrant, acidity frames it well. It will age well but if you have some have a bottle now, too good to miss. 18+/20. Very fine and very complete.
Ornellaia 2001 - This wine was in a different place and profile from the 2004. Beef stock and soy on the nose, browned bruised fruit, a touch of bacon fat (frazzles) in there too. Tastes like Sangiovese (none present). Not for everyone but the most Italian for me. Francois Mitjavile of Tertre Roteboeuf would call this "degraded". 17/20.
Ornellaia 1999 - Refined, darker fruit, slightly saline character, very smooth, softened with a lovely texture. A little dry but it is a food wine, very honest and now showy. Refined and a little stern may be. 17/20.
Ornellaia 1990 - With the vineyards only planted in 1982-1983 this is very much from the early stages of Ornellaia. A light expression, a nice nose of soft sweet leathery fruit but then the palate is really strange and drier, faded some how. This is not a wine I will score as a whole, no need. Lovely nose, not much there on the palate.
A really interesting tasting. An estate that it Iconic in terms of Tuscany and Italy and deservedly so...I'd happily drink several of those with my own money.