Drink Local: Ornellaia (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

In 1981, Marchese Lodovico Antinori breathed new life into Tenuta dell' Ornellaia and planted the first French varietal grape vines in Bolgheri, which lies in the heart of Tuscany's coas

In 1981, Marchese Lodovico Antinori breathed new life into Tenuta dell’ Ornellaia and planted the first French varietal grape vines in Bolgheri, which lies in the heart of Tuscany’s coastal region, Maremma; today the estate yields some of the finest Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc in Tuscany, Italy

 

Following our visit to Azienda Agricole Le Macchiole (winery) in the Coastal Bolgheri region of Tuscany, Italy [see our previous blog post], we drove to the nearby winery estate of Ornellaia, where we had an extensive tour and tasting.  We wrapped up our afternoon with a visit to the region’s namesake town, Bolgheri.

 

The visitor center at the front of the Ornellaia winery building in Bolgheri, Italy, features a display of artist-designed labels for Ornellaia vintages and a fabulous collection of mode

The visitor center at the front of the Ornellaia winery building in Bolgheri, Italy, features a display of artist-designed labels for Ornellaia vintages and a fabulous collection of modern art

 

“In 1981, Marchese Lodovico Antinori breathed new life into Tenuta dell’ Ornellaia, an estate whose potential had been ignored for decades.  With the help of Andre Tchelistcheff, the famous agronomist, Antinori planted the first French vines in Bolgheri, which lies in the heart of Tuscany’s coastal region, Maremma.  The estate yields some of the finest Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc in Tuscany.“ –  www.wine.com

 

The production facility at Ornellaia (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, glistens with stainless steel tanks and equipment

The production facility at Ornellaia (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, glistens with stainless steel tanks and equipment

 

Even the barrel aging room features modern art at Ornellaia (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

Even the barrel aging room features modern art at Ornellaia (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

 

“Ornellaia was established by Marchese Lodovico Antinori of the Antinori family, behind one of Italy’s most historic negociant firms, with the help of winemaker Tibor Gál.  The property is adjacent to Tenuta San Guido, producer of Sassicaia which is considered the original “Super Tuscan”.  Ornellaia has been described as Lodovico Antinori’s competitive answer to his cousin Nicolò Incisa’s Sassicaia, and his older brother Piero Antinori’s Solaia.  The vineyards of the estate were planted in 1981, producing the first vintage in 1985.  A modern winery was built in 1987, and a second 56-hectare (140-acre) property was later added, Bellaria, situated north of Bolgheri.  The Robert Mondavi Winery took a minority interest in the estate in November 1999, and were full owners by 2002, while initiating a partnership with the Frescobaldi family.  In April 2005, Frescobaldi bought the remaining 50% shares of Ornellaia from Constellation Brands after their acquisition of Mondavi holdings, coming to own the whole estate.   Axel Heinz is the current winemaker with Michel Rolland, involved with the estate since its beginning, retained as consultant oenologist.” — Wikipedia

 

The Ornellaia vintage wines_ “Archivio Storico” (archival, or library, storage facility), Ornellaia (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

The Ornellaia vintage wines’ “Archivio Storico” (archival, or library, storage facility), Ornellaia (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

 

The South African artist William Kentridge designed a special label, “Il Carisma” for Ornellaia 2015; Ornellaia is a cuvée of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Petit Ver

The South African artist William Kentridge designed a special label, “Il Carisma” for Ornellaia 2015; “Ornellaia is a cuvée of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Petit Verdot and the faithful expression of unique terroir developed in harmony with nature” – http://www.Ornellaia.com/en/

 

“Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista celebrates the unique character of each new vintage of Ornellaia. Every year since the release of Ornellaia 2006 in May 2009, a contemporary artist creates a work of art and a series of limited edition labels drawing inspiration from the single word chosen by the Winemaker to describe the character of the new vintage. The Vendemmia d’Artista project includes a label created by the Artist for one bottle in each wooden case of Ornellaia (containing 6 x 750ml bottles) and a limited edition of 111 large size bottles (100 double magnums (3L), 10 Imperials (6L) and 1 Salmanazar (9L) each individually numbered and personally signed by the artist. Collectors around the world covet these bottles and the auction of some of them during an annual charity event raises money in support of the Arts. The Vendemmia d’Artista project culminates in a work of art created specifically for the Estate tying together the character of the vintage and the artist’s interpretation at the birthplace of Ornellaia.” — www.ornellaia.com/en/

 

The Berlin artist Rebecca Horn, in 2011, designed the art adorning the special large bottles of the 2008 vintage of Ornellaia – her artwork is titled l_Energia; Ornellaia (winery), B

The Berlin artist Rebecca Horn, in 2011, designed the art adorning the special large bottles of the 2008 vintage of Ornellaia – her artwork is titled l’Energia; Ornellaia (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

 

The lineup of wines for our wine tasting at Ornellaia (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

The lineup of wines for our wine tasting at Ornellaia (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

 

The old castle is famous as the landmark symbol of the town of Bolgheri, Italy

The old castle is famous as the landmark symbol of the town of Bolgheri, Italy

 

Classic Italian architecture in this façade in the town of Bolgheri, Italy_

Classic Italian architecture in this façade in the town of Bolgheri, Italy

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat and Drink Local: Azienda Agricola Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

Le Macchiole (winery) is in Bolgheri, Italy, on the Etruscan Coast -- “in this magical place, where rolling hills are blanketed by forest, where vineyards and olive trees meet with the

Le Macchiole (winery) is in Bolgheri, Italy, on the Etruscan Coast — “in this magical place, where rolling hills are blanketed by forest, where vineyards and olive trees meet with the Tyrrhenian Sea”

 

From our dock in the port of Livorno, a small group of us drove an hour south to the beautiful Bolgheri wine region on the west coast of Italy.  Bolgheri (also the name of the central town in the region) is the newest wine region in Italy and has become very successful over the past few decades, producing some excellent wines, usually in small quantities.  Our first stop was at Le Macchiole (winery) where we had a wonderful personal tour, wine tasting and luncheon.  Many thanks to our hostess, Veronica, and Chef Gionata d’Alessi of Io Cucion Restaurant in Bibbona (a municipality in the Province of Livorno and the chef’s birthplace) for an outstanding meal.

 

The vineyards of Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

The vineyards of Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

 

The winery production uses very contemporary, state-of-the-art equipment at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

The winery production uses very contemporary, state-of-the-art equipment at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

 

“A living legend, Le Macchiole is today recognized as one of Tuscany’s finest wine estates.  Indeed, Le Macchiole is lauded as much for the consistency and quality of its wines, as it is for opening doors and increasing the sex appeal of the once little known Bolgheri region.

It began with a dream of one very special couple – Eugenio Campolmi and his wife Cinzia Merli. Living a comfortable life running Eugenio’s parents’ retail business, they longed to make wine in Tuscany, and set about exploring the region to discover the perfect site for their ambitions.

In 1983, Eugenio and Cinzia came across a special piece of land in the then largely unheard-of Bolgheri region, just 5 miles from the coast.  It was love at first sight – they planted several hectares of international varieties and produced their first vintage in 1987.  Released in 1989, the inaugural Paleo Rosso was received to universal critical acclaim, validating the couple’s pioneering strategy of making varietal wines in the Bolgheri coastline.  Critics praised the power, elegance and above all the remarkable concentration inherent to their wines, which has only improved since the initial releases.

Sadly, however, Eugenio died in 2002, leaving his widow Cinzia and her brother Massimo to continue his pioneering work and forge a legacy worthy of the family name.  Understanding and enhancing their unique terroir has been the overriding aim, with a painstaking amount of work going into vineyard management and matching a particular variety of vine to a special place.

But, as anyone who has sampled these delicious wines will testify, the rewards have more than justified the team’s hard work.  Today, Le Macchiole continues to make some of the greatest wines in the region, characterized by their balance, finesse and yet intense aromas and complexity.  Accessible on release, the wines will age gracefully for many years.” — www.cellartours.com/italy/italian-wineries/le-macchiole

 

One of the Corten steel frames set up in the vineyards of Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, by the family owners as part of their “Messorio04Bolgheri” project

One of the Corten steel frames set up in the vineyards of Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, by the family owners as part of their “Messorio04Bolgheri” project: “We would like those who visit our winery, walk through the town’s streets, cycle or drive along Via Bolgherese, to feel the urge to stop, relax and take in the beauty of the landscape around them, through the frames showcasing [the Nobel Prize in Literature winning Italian poet] Giosuè Carducci’s [1835-1907] best-loved sites.  We would like them to feel part of a wonderful place, just even for a moment, recite the Poet’s verses, open their eyes and heart to beauty.  This is what we wish for, and this is why we donated the frames to the people of Castagneto and Bolgheri and to all those who would like to come and enjoy the beauty of our land.”

 

“It was 2012, and I had been working for Le Macchiole for barely a year when Cinzia told me that she had a project in mind that would help promote the town of Castagneto Carducci: forty-eight 6-liter Magnum bottles of Messorio 2004 — an extraordinary vintage, even unique in some respects — up for sale.  ‘How about doing something with the proceeds from the sale- she said- to help our area?’  I thought it over for a few days.  Then I suddenly remembered myself as a child going to markets with my uncle, a street vendor, in his white truck and driving along the road to Volterra.  Every single time, my eye was attracted to an old, empty billboard frame on the side of the road near Ponteginori.  It was somehow ugly and fascinating at the same time: it framed the landscape perfectly, and never the same landscape.  Always different views, depending on the angle of vision, the time of the day, the season of the year.  And so, a sunset sky was not only beautiful: all it took was a rusty frame to make it a beautiful, framed sunset sky.  Basically, a work of art.  So I said to myself: why shouldn’t we do the same thing?  After all, Carducci used to come to Bolgheri to observe the landscape.  Well, yes, his beloved grandmother was there, waiting for him, but he gained inspiration for his poetry by contemplating the natural beauty of our land.  Magnificent landscapes, sweet hills and sunsets.  I was thinking of maxi frames, framing some of the town’s loveliest views, made of Corten steel, a metal which has a rust-like appearance and, besides bringing me back to my childhood memories, oozes with history and tradition.  And then I came up with the idea of doing it in the 16:9 format, which is the international standard format for multimedia, allowing passers-by and tourists to take a picture and post it on social media with the hashtag #messorio04bolgheri.  No two photos of the same place will ever look the same, with the background constantly changing, whether because of a cloud, the sunlight, a nuance or the sky a different shade of blue.  And, who knows?  Maybe someone, though unaware of it, will be lucky enough to see exactly what the Poet saw.” — Antonio Sanna

 

Primo (first course) Raviolino di Pappa al Pomodoro e Burrata (small raviolis filled with tomato soup and Burrata cheese); luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with

Primo (first course) Raviolino di Pappa al Pomodoro e Burrata (small raviolis filled with tomato soup and Burrata cheese); luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with Bolgheri Rosso (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah) 2016

 

Secondo (second course) Filettino de Agnello con Pancetta e Misticanza (pancetta-wrapped lamb fillet with Mesculin salad), luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with

Secondo (second course) Filettino de Agnello con Pancetta e Misticanza (pancetta-wrapped lamb fillet with Mesculin salad), luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with Paleo Rosso (100% Cabernet Franc) 2014 and Scrio (100% Syrah) 2009 and Messorio (100% Merlot) 2011

 

Cheese Selection with homemade bread, luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with Messorio (100% Merlot) 2002 (celebrating our ship_s launching year!)

Cheese Selection with homemade bread, luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with Messorio (100% Merlot) 2002 (celebrating our ship’s launching year!)

 

A close up of the Messorio (100% Merlot) 2002 (celebrating our ship_s launching year!) and cheese at our luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy_

A close up of the Messorio (100% Merlot) 2002 (celebrating our ship’s launching year!) and cheese at our luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

 

Dolci (dessert) Crostatina con spuma al Mascarpone e fondente (Chocolate Mascarpone mousse tart), luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

Dolci (dessert) Crostatina con spuma al Mascarpone e fondente (Chocolate Mascarpone mousse tart), luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.