Ornellaia – A Vertical


Axel Heinz is in town. The winemaker at Ornellaia, an estate that hardly needs any lengthy introduction. Actually none at all. It’s a treat listening to the knowledgeable Mr. Heinz; he’s good with words, humble and also honest. Abilities that suits a winemaker at Ornellaia.

We’re about to taste 9 wines from the estate, 6 from Ornellaia and 3 from their brand called Le Serre Nuove. The latter is sometimes referred to as the estate’s second wine but the fact is they’re styled quite differently. While Le Serre Nuove usually is consisting of at least 50 percent Merlot, Ornellaia is mainly a Cabernet Sauvignon wine. Both of them also has some Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot in the blends.

Ornellaia has no interest in hiding its Italian origin. Au contraire Axel Heinz says, the Italian touch to the wines is very much an important part of the wines. For those of you lucky to own some Ornellaia and Le Serre Nuove, here are my impressions ranging from 2012 to 2004.

For comparative reasons a numerical score has been added to each description.

2012 Poggio alle Gazze

Ornellaia also produces a white wine consisting of mainly Sauvignon blanc and roughly 10 percent of Viognier. The wine is aged mainly in used oak and a third new. The nose is elegant and slightly floral. Some toasted scents, lime peel, apricots, coconut and wet rocks. Quite cool in its appearance. On the palate a dry wine with slightly tropical notes, vanilla, fine acidity and a pure yellow fruits finish. A modern and really fine wine for consumption the coming two or three years. Think Pessac meets Condrieu meets Tuscany. (90)

Le Serre Nuove2012 Le Serre Nuove

Young, dense color but not impenetrable. The nose is vivid and offer scents of dark berries, cherries mainly, and there’s also some flowers, licorice and humus. Gentle oak scents. On the palate a dense, yet restrained wine with some heat. A bit tight at the moment. Plenty of dark fruit, plum skin, intensity and fine tannins. Needs three or four years to integrate. A really impressive Le Serre Nuove. (91)

2010 Le Serre Nuove

Different from the rest of the wines in the tasting with its cooler appearance, greener aromas and more Bordeaux associations. Still young with a tight nose. Some cedar notes, forrest fruit, licorice and tobacco. Quite restrained on the palate, lacks a bit of intensity on the mid palate but shows fine earthy notes and a pleasant green character. Violets and cool cherry fruit. Will please those wishing more Bordeaux like notes in their Super Tuscans. Give it a further one or two years to be at its best. (89)

2006 Le Serre Nuove

Lovely drinking right now, the 2006 Le Serre Nuove. Some brick hue and a transparent color but the bouquet is filled with dark berries, plums, licorice and a scorched earth feeling. Quite powerful on the palate with evident but somehow quite silky tannins. Mature with integrated oak notes, sweet-root, warm earth and sundrenched blackcurrants. Drink now and the coming three years. What it lacks in elegance it compensates with fine maturity. (91)

2011 Ornellaia l'Infinite Golden label

2011 Ornellaia

Next to the 2004 the most exciting Ornellaia. The 2011 shows great purity on the nose with scents reminiscent of violets, blackcurrants, mint and warm earth and toasted new oak. The oak treatment is impeccable. Dense structure, yet great balance with some serious tannins, tons of fruit and dark cherries note. Today a bit oak dominated but time will take care of this, integrating the components. I love the feeling of a great Medoc, even a great Napa but above all that the wine still do taste Italian. On par with 2004. Needs at least five years to deliver at a even higher and more integrated level. A fun note for collectors; every sixth bottle in the case comes with a golden label(95)

2009 Ornellaia

Dark dense color. This is so cool. oozing of humus, luxury spiciness from the oak, adding depth to the more classic blackcurrants and cedar character. Violets and also a dark cherry note to it. Most promising. Lots of further Cabernet Sauvignon marks on the nose with a herbaceous feeling, cedar, tobacco and newly cut grass. Blackcurrants also of course. Massive tannin structure. But the finish is quite warm, adding a more Italian character to the wine with its balsamic nuance next to the more classic notes. A very promising Ornellaia which needs at least a further four or five years. (94)

2008 Ornellaia

Some maturing color. The nose is dense with scents of leather, spices, tobacco, balsamico and blackcurrants. Some smoke as well. Surprisingly generous already. On the palate a bit the contrary though. Cedar notes, newly cut grass, sweet-root and a quite seductive ripe dark fruits feel. The tannins are still youthful and a bit unruly, indicating more patience is needed. A long lingering finale. Fine bottle, dumb phase probably? Cellar a few more years before touching it. (93)

2006 Ornellaia

Some brick hue on the color. A mineral reminiscent nose with the dusty summer road scent, grass, sundrenched blackcurrants, tomatoes and cedar pencil. A dense nose which still gives the impression of needing a further year or two. Beautifully structured taste with classy tannins, blackcurrants and morellos. A touch of mint, spices and grass as well. Long and filled with finesse. Will keep on aging a further three or four years. At least. (94)

2005 Ornellaia

Brick red hue which kind of correlates with the mature nose. Dark cherries, blackcurrants and some scents from the oak – mainly chocolate, tobacco and a slight spiciness. A scent of lavender adds to the nuances. A fine mature nose but doesn’t possess the presence as the 2006 or 2004. On the palate it’s not as dense as 2006, more leaning towards a delicate Ornellaia. Mature fruit and fine tannins are combined with notes of moist tobacco, plums, humus and a herbal feeling. Fine length. I’d drink this now and the coming year or so. (92)

2004 Ornellaia

What a wine! Quite a lot of brick red hue but both the bouquet and taste shows the 2004 will keep on aging with grace. Finesse and elegance on the nose; sunripe blackcurrants, Victoria plums, violets, tobacco and cedar. A dusty summer road association emerges with further aeration. Harmonius, complex and yet you get the feeling there’s even more to come. Silk like tannins yet quite plentiful. Humus, blackcurrants, pipe tobacco, balsamico and cedar on the palate which still has lots of fruit left. Impressive concentration and a long slightly herbaceous finale. A classic which will keep on developing for half a decade and last much longer. A treat. (96)


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