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Abolish the term ‘second wine’, says Ornellaia winemaker

The winemaker for Bolgheri estate Ornellaia has said the term 'second wine' should be phased out to convince consumers that they are not just second best.

Axel Heinz made his comments at a seven-wine vertical tasting of Ornellaia’s Le Serre Nuove in London this week.

‘Serre Nuove is a true second wine at Ornellaia in that it is not second-rate version of the flagship wine,’ Heinz told Decanter.com. ‘It still has to stand up as a fine wine in its own right, not lie in the shadow of Ornellaia.’

While Ornellaia is Cabernet Sauvignon driven, Le Serre Nuove has been Merlot dominant since 2005, Heinz’s first vintage as winemaker.

He said the distinction between the two wines would be further enforced in future with specific vineyards on the 100-hectare estate being allocated for Serre Nuove; currently the wine is a selection of base wines used for Ornellaia.

Heinz – who has worked at La Dominique in St-Emilion –also makes Masseto, a 100% Merlot, and Le Volte, a Toscana IGT, which is made from 20% of estate fruit plus purchased grapes. He hinted that more varietal wines were a possibility in the future.

In addition to disliking the term ‘second wine’, Heinz said he was longing for the day when ‘Super Tuscan’ and ‘international blends’ disappeared from the vernacular when Bolgheri was discussed.

‘We do not make international blends,’ he said. ‘We make wines that best suit our terroir, and our terroir best suits Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and not Sangiovese. Ornellaia and Le Serre Nuove are blends of Bordeaux grape varieties but they are predominantly a great expression of the terroir of Bolgheri.

‘In future we would like to be known as making Bolgheri wines, not Super Tuscans or Bordeaux blends,’ he said.

The first vintage of Le Serre Nuove was 1997 and production has steadily increased to 200,000 bottles of the current 2012 vintage. The 2012 vintage retails for around £39-a-bottle, according to UK merchant Armit Wines.

Ornellaia will be appearing at the Decanter Shanghai Fine Wine Encounter on Saturday 29th of November


Written by Tina Gellie

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