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Tenuta dell'Ornellaia

"Masseto is the most collectible wine of Tuscany. The pure Merlot from the wine estate of Tenuta dell’Ornellaia attracts the most attention from wine collectors all over the world, and it consistently fetches some of the highest prices in global wine auctions"
- James Suckling

I remember walking the isles of a wine shop in Los Angeles with a friend who works for a major distributer. We were discussing wines that he loved because they moved so quickly, and wines that didn’t (he called those wines that “suck”). He pointed at a bottle of Ornellaia and said to me, with great emphasis, “pay attention, this wine does NOT suck”. With 240 acres planted on the Tuscan Coast, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia is an iconic Italian label producing world class, Bordeaux style wines. The varietals planted are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, Viogner and Petit Maseng. The Super Tuscans produced include Ornellaia, with second wines Le Serre Nuove, Le Votle and Masseto (Merlot).

Established by the celebrated Antinori family, who also own Sassicaia and Solaia, there is a friendly competition going on between the members. You can consider the Cab heavy Ornellaia as an alternative to Sassicaia or Solaia, and the Merlot based Masseto as a competitor to Château Petrus. The winery has changed hands, and those hands include Mondavi, Constellation and Frescobaldi. The film Mondovino illustrates all of this. Consulting winemaker and stranger to none, Michel Rolland, has his hand in as well on the oenology side. The estate is said to be “California style” which winemaker Axel Heinz (former winemaker at Château La Dominique” attributes to the original proprietor Marchese Lodovico Antinori’s frequent trips to the new wine world. These wines sell themselves.

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