Ornellaia Bianco 2018
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 crates 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 10 months on the lees with periodic batonnage over the entire period and concluded in steel vats for 2 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.
After several years in which winter seemed to be little more than a memory, 2018 brought a return to normal climatic conditions. Temperatures spent enough time below zero for the vines to begin their well-deserved winter rest. The spring will be remembered as one of the wettest in history, with three times the seasonal average rainfall and high temperatures in April. Despite late budbreak, the weather conditions and rapid growth of the shoots enabled the vines to catch up and bloom a week earlier than anticipated. For the entire month of May and – to a lesser extent – June, rainfall remained above average and it was only in July that the vines received some respite, with a warm and dry month. Veraison took place between the 22nd and 25th of July, and August was as hot as it had been the previous year, but slightly wetter. The sugars and acidity developed slowly, while the berries grew to larger dimensions thanks to the high level of water present in the soil. September was warm and dry. Temperatures were higher than the seasonal average, but cooler nights enabled the vines to recover and preserve the aromas and acidity.
The Sauvignon Blanc harvest started on the 16th of August and continued until mid-September. The Viognier was harvest during the last days of August.
“2018 was the longest Sauvignon Blanc harvest in the history of Ornellaia. Picking started shortly after mid-August and ended on September 12th when the last bunches of Sauvignon Blanc were brought into the cellar. With its intense straw-yellow color, this wine is characterized by aromas of exotic fruit accompanied by mild hints of finely roasted vanilla. On the palate it shows rich, dense with sweet fruit, perfectly balanced by a savory tanginess.”
-Olga Fusari, Winemaker
Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier
Suggested Retail Price
Vinous (93+) - February 18, 2021
"The 2018 Ornellaia Bianco is a powerful, dense wine. Orchard fruit, chamomile, saline notes and dried flowers open in the glass, but only with great reluctance. A rich white, the 2018 Bianco possesses tremendous weight, but it is also very much closed in on itself. I am intrigued to see how the 2018 ages."
Wine Advocate - May 6, 2021
"The 2018 Ornellaia Bianco is mostly Sauvignon Blanc with a complementary 15% addition of Viognier for added structure and textural support. This vintage shows the usual understated or slightly reserved character that we've seen in past editions. With a little prodding and swirling, the bouquet opens gradually to reveal a pretty assortment of d'Anjou pear, white peach, honeysuckle and toasted almond. The wine is fermented in oak, but malolactic fermentation does not occur. There are pretty dustings of saffron and crushed stone that hint at the evolution and elegance to come with extra time in the bottle." - M.L.
James Suckling - August 11, 2021
"Dried apple, lemon, lime and lemon curd on the nose with hints of cedar. Medium-to full-bodied with a solid core of fruit and a fresh, vivid finish. The vanilla cream and sliced fruit are so enticing. Just a hint of wood character at the end. Needs time to come together." - J.S.
Jeb Dunnuck - June 22, 2022
"Also heavily Sauvignon-dominated, the 2018 Ornellaia Bianco is 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Viognier. It's definitely a richer, almost full-bodied white yet it leads with Sauvignon on the nose, with bright citrus, honeyed minerality, and white flower notes, with just a touch of Viognier white peach emerging with time in the glass. Beautiful on the palate as well, with a hint of green almond, it has a round, layered mouthfeel, brilliant balance, and a great finish. I suspect the acidity is relatively moderate (I wouldn't say low), but it's one of those wines that brings richness while holding onto a terrific sense of freshness and vibrancy. Geared for gastronomy.[..] I love the texture Viognier gives the wine." - J.D.
Other Wines by this Producer
Toscana Bianco IGT
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Le Volte dell’Ornellaia combines a Mediterranean expression of generosity with structure and complexity, reflecting the philosophy of Ornellaia. It represents the first step into the Ornellaia family, and is an ideal wine for everyday enjoyment.
Toscana IGT Bianco
Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia is one of Italy’s most innovative and progressive white wines, providing an altogether different experience of the Ornellaia estate and its Mediterranean influences.
Bolgheri DOC Rosso
Coming primarily from the Ornellaia’s younger vineyard sites and made with the same passion and attention to detail as the estate’s flagship wine, Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia combines generosity and depth of flavor with an engaging and vibrant personality.
Bolgheri DOC Superiore
Ornellaia is the estate’s “Grand Vin”, with exceptional balance, power, elegance, and great aging potential. It faithfully reflects, in every vintage, its nature, site, and distinctive Mediterranean personality.