2018 Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia, Tuscany, Italy
Winemaker Olga Fusari pulled off a perfect tightrope routine when she made this wonderful wine. Ornellaia is famous for making one of the most expensive and collectable of all Super-Tuscan reds, but this 2018 vintage of its unusual white blend is a thriller. Made from 83% sauvignon blanc, 11% vermentino and 6% viognier, this is a full-bodied white wine. It not only tastes amazing, but also carries with it a sense of true vinous skill and innate balance. The 2018 was, if you look at the climatic conditions, a rather rainy vintage, at least for the first half of the year. Rainy years often give rise to dilute crops, but the sun shone in the second half of the summer and cool nights ensued, so this wine has fleshiness, levity and also crucial acidity.
If you are trying to guess what this wine tastes like, you will not be able to do it from the grapes involved, let alone their percentage involvement in this blend! Rather think of them as a layer cake, led by sensual and provocative viognier, followed by herbal, saline vermentino and then powered on for minutes by part-oak-fermented and aged sauvignon blanc. Half of this wine sees barriques and half again is new oak. This component allows the palate and finish of this wine to puff out its chest and strut its stuff. This is a delicious and well-thought-through wine with delicacy and considerable richness in perfect harmony. It never oversteps the mark, while retaining its lush, citrus and tropical fruit allure ,and that makes it ever so captivating and thoroughly worthy of its Ornellaia label.
Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com)