Ornellaia Bianco 2016
Ornellaia Bianco is Italy’s most ambitious white wine. It is a result of the Estate’s desire to translate the exceptional properties of its terroir not only into red wines, but also into this magnificent white.
The Ornellaia vineyard totals 280 acres that are divided into more than 70 vineyard plots according to soil type, exposition and varietal. There are three major soil types: marine (sedimentary deposit from the sea), alluvial (marly, sandy clays with mineral veins), and volcanic (schist, gravel and porous soils). All the vineyards are about 3 miles from the Mediterranean shore. The mild maritime climate features sea breezes that keep the sky clear, low rainfall, and long summers that favor the development of aromatic compounds.
Vineyards are planted at high density, from 5,000-8,700 hl/ha, and feature several training systems – spur-pruned cordon, single Guyot, and head-pruned vines.
The grapes were hand-harvested in 15 kg bins in the early hours of the morning and immediately cooled on arrival in the cellar to keep all their aromatic potential intact. Following careful selection, the whole grape clusters were subjected to slow and soft pressing with maximum attention to protection against oxidation. After static decantation lasting approximately 24 hours, all the must was placed in barriques, 30% new and 70% used, for alcoholic fermentation at temperatures no higher than 22°C. No malolactic fermentation was carried out. The ageing continued for 12 months on the lees with periodic batonnage over the entire period, and concluded in steel vats for 3 more months. Before bottling, blending of the various batches was carried out, along with light fining. The wine was then aged in the bottle for a further 6 months before its introduction to the market.
As what seems to be becoming increasingly the norm, the winter of 2016 was characterized by abnormally warm weather with heavy rainfall in February. Budbreak took place on time in the last week of March. The abundance of water in the soil and the warm weather in April led to quick and normal vegetative vine growth. Towards May, temperatures returned to normal, slowing the growth down slightly, bringing about the flowering which took place in the last week of May with dry sunny weather, perfect for good fruit-set. The summer was average with very little rain, favoring a notable water stress towards the end of the ripening stage. The usual August holiday period storms were also absent, which kept the dryness throughout the whole Sauvignon harvesting period. Fortunately, the estate’s proximity to the sea brought fresh moist wind with a remarkable night-time temperature fluctuations, allowing the vines to recover from the daytime heat and preserve their flavors and zesty acidity, despite high sugar levels. The Sauvignon harvest took place in the last week of August.
“Although typically dry and sunny, 2016 has benefited from beautiful conditions for the ripening, particularly cool nights, favorable to the aromatic expression and acidity, while the absence of summer rain has led to rich and concentrated grapes. All these elements flow into a great version of Ornellaia Bianco. Golden color, perfectly ripe citrus fruit and minerals on the nose. On the palate the wine literally spreads out to coat the palate with its richness, while a steely and juicy acidity refreshes the finish.”
-Olga Fusari, Winemaker
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Decanter - "Ornellaia’s Sauvignon harvest took place in the last week of August in 2016. The wine is restrained, with cedar, wild fennel flowers and saffron on the nose, smooth-flowing and gently wooded on the palate,with iodine notes and a lemony, elegant finish. Will last decades due to its perfect balance, great concentration, extremely fresh fruit flavours and high integrated acidity."
Jeb Dunnuck - "The star of the show with regard to the whites is unquestionably the 2016 Ornellaia Bianco. It's reminiscent of a great vintage of Domaine de Chevalier with its incredible purity, precision, and length, displaying notes of clean citrus, melon, white flowers, and honeyed minerality. Fresh and vibrant as well as rich and powerful, it's medium-bodied, seamless, and flawlessly balanced on the palate, with a thrilling finish. While it's beautiful today, it should keep for 10-15 years or more. The 2016 is 100% Sauvignon Blanc that was brought up in 30% new French oak."
James Suckling - "This is a fantastic white. The greatest Ornellaia white so far. Very complex and dense yet, at the same time, energetic and vivid. This shows so much richness and density with a pretty, phenolic texture that keeps you entranced. Full-bodied with lots of honeysuckle, green-melon and cooked-apple character. Very long and flavorful. Dynamic and great wine."
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