Le Volte dell’Ornellaia
Made From: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese
Tastes Like: Red Berries, Crushed Flowers, Spice, Earth
There’s no denying that Tenuta dell’Ornellia is one of the most iconic brands in the world. Along with Tignanello and Sassicaia, this history-making winery was responsible for transforming Italy’s reputation from “mass-market table reds” to wines that could compete with First Growth Bordeaux. But for founder Marchese Lodovico Antinori, who was born into a wine dynasty that goes back for an incredible 26 generations, this remarkable feat is just a continuation of his family’s legacy.
In the 1980s, Antinori decided that he had had enough of the archaic Italian traditions that were limiting innovation and modernization. He began planting classic French varietals alongside Sangiovese and other native grapes – a move that meant his wines wouldn’t earn DOCG status, the mark by which consumers judged a wine’s value. In essence, he was banking on the fact that savvy drinkers would taste the quality of his wines and buy them even without the government’s stamp of approval.
It was a huge risk – but, as history proves, it was a risk well worth taking.
Today, Ornellaia commands some of the highest prices of any Italian wine, and critics agree that it is one of the most celebrated bottles to ever have come into existence. Now, as we mentioned, the winery’s flagship typically sells for around $250 a bottle – not too bad a price for a piece of history.
But if you can get your hands on it, there’s a little bottling they make from their extra grapes that sells for a fraction of the price. The 2018 Le Volte dell’Ornellaia is an affordable introduction to the revered elegance, complexity, and concentration that are the hallmarks of an Antinori bottle. This utterly delightful Super Tuscan blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sangiovese, aged for 10 months in French oak, reveals bright aromas of red berry fruit, spice, and crushed flowers that lead into striking flavors of red currant, dried herbs, dusty leather, and earth.
It didn’t earn the scores of 97 or 98 points that its big brother usually gets. But you know what? 93 Points is still pretty darn good for a bottle that you can get for a tenth of the cost!
“There’s purity of fruit here with crushed plums, flowers, fresh sage and rosemary on both the nose and palate. It’s full-bodied, yet soft and pretty at the finish. Very drinkable now.” — 93 points, James Suckling