Le Volte dell’Ornellaia IGT 2019, Tuscany
What: If you want to know why wine lovers make such a fuss over Super Tuscan wines, try the Le Volte dell’Ornellaia and you will understand.
A Super Tuscan is simply a wine made from non-indigenous grapes grown in Tuscany. It doesn’t conform to the legal restriction that a wine must have a high percentage of Sangiovese grapes to get the DOC or DOCG designation. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are the most common grapes in Super Tuscan wines.
Back in the 1980s some rebels discovered that Tuscan soils and weather were perfect for growing grapes usually grown in Bordeaux. So they made wine with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and settled for the lower IGT rating. They knew their wines would be so great the lower ranking wouldn’t keep their prices down. Wine drinkers loved the Super Tuscans and drove the prices up.
That’s why it’s so nice to find a wine like La Volte dell’Ornellaia. It has all the great qualities of its big brothers and sisters, but at a much friendlier price.
It is a blend of 50 percent Merlot, 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 30 percent Sangiovese grapes. In the glass it is a bright ruby-red color with intense aromas of black cherry, plums, fresh sage and rose petals. The palate is full of ripe black fruit balanced by fresh acidity. It has a lush mouthfeel and a long finish marked by notes of black pepper.
Each varietal is fermented separately in small steel tanks to maintain their varietal characteristics. The wine also undergoes a malolactic fermentation to make it mellower. It is then aged for 10 months, partly in barriques used previously for Ornellaia and partly in concrete tanks. The result is a perfect balance between tannins and fresh fruit. Only after aging in cask are the wines blended with an eye toward the expression of elegance and in keeping with the style of the vintage.
“2019 gives us a Le Volte dell’Ornellaia with great balance and expressivity,” said winemaker Ola Fsari. “With its bright ruby-red color, intense scents of red berries and rose petals are clearly distinguishable on the nose, while on the palate the taste is full-bodied and enveloping, characterized by dense tannins and a vibrant acidity which make this a highly pleasant and enjoyable wine.”
Ornellaia was one of the pioneers in making a Super Tuscan, and it was an immediate sensation. As often happens, Ornellaia then produced a second wine, Le Serre Nuove. Le Volte dell’Ornellaia is actually the third wine, made from grapes from the same vineyards used to make Ornellaia, which sells for six or seven times as much as the Le Volte.
I suppose this wine would age well, but it is delicious now, so I wouldn’t try to age it. The company usually produces about 400,000 bottles so it should be widely available.
Winery: Ornellaia was one of the Super Tuscan pioneers, founded by Marchese Lodovico Antinori in 1981, with the first vineyard plantings coming the following year.
The land had been overlooked as a vineyard for many years before he stepped in. The estate is on the Tuscan Coast in the northern Maremma near Bolgheri.
The first vintage, named simply Ornellaia, was released in 1985, and was a sensation. It is a blend of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Masseto, begun in 1986, is made entirely from Merlot, full of rich, silky elegance and has rapidly become a modern classic, selling for $600-700 a bottle, much like a Bordeaux wine. A modern winery was built in 1987.
The second wine for Ornellaia is Le Serre Nuove, using grapes not considered of high enough quality for the main label. It, too, is a blockbuster wine. The second label is a practice often found among Bordeaux producers, and now among some California wineries.
Le Volte dell’Ornellaia was first produced in 1992 and released in 1993. The first white wine, Ornellaia Blanco, was made from the 2013 vintage.
Antinori sold part of the winery in the 1990s before selling it all in 2002. It has changed hands several times and is now owned by the Frescobaldi family.
Even though Bolgheri now has its own DOC classification many of the Super Tuscans go for the IGT Toscana designation.
Goes With: We had this wonderful wine with one of my favorites meals, vegetable beef soup. This is a soup my mother made when I was a child and I have loved this soup ever since. It is rich and hearty, with many different kinds of vegetables, a perfect balance for this complex wine. I usually serve it over noodles.
This wine would go well with many grilled meats, a hearty beef stew and strong cheeses. I often make this soup for church lunches or on trips to the mountains with our friends. It is perfect with a red wine.
Here is the soup recipe. It is easy to make, and I usually make a big pot so we can have leftovers for several days.