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Ornellaia 2020: Proof That There's No Recipe


Same lighter weight bottle as its predecessor, but the 2020 is embossed at shoulder level with the Ornellaia logo. An invitation to taste...


‘Dear Joanna Simon, we look forward to seeing you online… to taste together Ornellaia 2020… Giovanni Geddes and Axel Heinz.’ So said the invitation.


All I can say is I'm sure they can't have been looking forward to it as much as I was. I wasn’t disappointed.

One of many things I like about Ornellaia is that they don’t need to trot out the oft-repeated winemaker’s mantra: ‘There’s no recipe, no formula.’ The 2020 Ornellaia is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot. The 2019 was 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. The warm 2020 vintage, for which the single-word description chosen by wine director Axel Heinz is la proporzione, favoured Cabernet Franc. Its predecessor, for which he chose the word il vigore, favoured Cabernet Sauvignon.

From a sunny, warm year, the 2020 is ripe, succulent and bright, with plummy blueberry and blackberry fruit, a lift of violets and fresh bay leaf (the latter, surely, the Cabernet Franc) and some dried-herb notes, too. There’s exuberance to the wine, but clarity and definition, and sustained, fine-grained, ripe tannins. It’s young, obviously, but polished. 94

I wrote about the previous vintage, 2019, here, together with the ongoing Vendemmia d’Artista project, which raises money for the Guggenheim Foundation’s Mind’s Eye programme for visually-impaired art lovers by selling bottles and large formats of each vintage with labels specially commissioned from a contemporary artist. The artist interpretating la proporzione this year is Joseph Kosuth (see below) and the bottles and large formats will be sold online by Sotheby’s from 7–21 September.

One other thing: the 2019 classic bottle was reduced in weight by 50g. This year it’s the same weight and has the Ornellaia logo embossed on it. Win win.


Joseph Kosuth's label for the 75cl bottle is printed with a quotation, in English, from Vitruvius (De architectura 3.1.3). His labels for the 100 Double Magnums show an etymological tree of the word wine. The 10 Imperials, no two of which are the same, have the same etymological chart etched onto the glass, each showing a different branch of the tree highlighted, with Vitruvius’ quotation translated into a different language. On the unique Salmanazar, the highlighted branch and Vitruvius’ surrounding words are in English.


Photograph of Ornellaia 2020 by Joanna Simon


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