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Le Volte Dell'Ornellaia 2010

Despite my predilection (or should that be obsession?) for the vineyards and the wines of the Loire and Bordeaux, the classic wine regions of Europe (and the undiscovered regions too) still fascinate me. Although all of my most recent vineyard visits have been to my two regions of interest, I did spend some time in Tuscany last year, and enjoyed getting to grips again with some of the leading Tuscan estates. When there I tended to focus on those estates turning out what I have long considered to be some of the best examples of Chianti, and particular enjoyed my visit to Fontodi among others. Their 100% Sangiovese Flaccianello, which seems to embody everything Chianti could and should be even though it is commercialised as an Indicazione Geografica Tipica, is one of the world's great red wines in my opinion. One to try before.....well, you know the expression.

Tuscany is not just about Chianti though, as it has been the scene of vinous revolution in the past; the Super-Tuscans appeared over 40 years ago now, and rather like the cosmic background radiation that has lingered for thousands of millennia after the Big Bang (this might be overstating the staying power of the Super-Tuscans a little, but bear with me), they appear to be here to stay. I rather enjoy the diversity they bring to the region, and find them an exciting interpretation of Bordeaux varieties, a contrast to the cooler climate styles that can be found in Bordeaux itself, and also in the Loire of course, where Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and even the occasional plot of Merlot can be found.

Le Volte Dell'Ornellaia 2010

One such wine is Ornellaia, from Tenuta Dell'Ornellaia, traditionally - if we can call it a 'tradition', the wine only having been first released in the 1985 vintage - a cuvée dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, with added Merlot and Cabernet Franc. I have tasted quite a few vintages (more than I have tasted from one or two Bordeaux châteaux I can think of) and I like the wines. Nevertheless, they won't be found in my cellar, the price being too prohibitive for me. More realistically attainable is the second wine, which I have featured before on these pages, Le Serre Nuove Dell'Ornellaia, which was introduced to the range in 1997. Even more within reach, however, is this weekend's wine, Le Volte Dell'Ornellaia. This shifts away somewhat from the house style, featuring Sangiovese which here accounts for half the blend, the Bordeaux varieties play a supporting, balancing role. Some of the fruit is home-grown, but some is purchased. Interestingly, its appearance predates that of the second wine, having first been produced in 1991.

The 2010 vintage was later than usual, and cool Autumn nights seem to have helped preserve the vigour and aromatic life of the fruit. The varieties, 51% Sangiovese, 34% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon were fermented separately in steel vats, where they also underwent malolactic fermentation, before being run off to spend between eight and ten months in used oak barrels, ex-Ornellaia, typically two to four years old. Opening now, the 2010 Le Volte Dell'Ornellaia possesses plenty of bright and concentrated colour in the decanter. The nose has a very good combination of vibrant and expressive, accessible dark plums and cherries, mixed up with notes of black liquorice, coffee and mint. The fruit has a deliciously bitter twist, a crunchy and crystalline definition, and a good depth to it as well. The palate has all the fresh and mouth-watering bite and acidity of Sangiovese, but sweetened and fleshed out by the Merlot. It is a wine with plenty of fine fruit character, with the cherries as found on the nose, but also a supple feel despite the surprising underpinning of tannins which wrap themselves around the rich and juicy fruit, and great acidity too. Not really an Ornellaia surrogate, nevertheless a very good and affordable introduction to the estate, I think. 16/20 (26/11/12)

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