x
  • Country ranking ?

    191
  • Producer ranking ?

    20
  • Decanting time

    3h
  • When to drink

    now to 2035

The Tb points given to this wine are the world’s most valid and most up-to-date evaluation of the quality of the wine. Tastingbook points are formed by the Tastingbook algorithm which takes into account the wine ratings of the world's 50 best-known professional wine critics, wine ratings by thousands of tastingbook’s professionals and users, the generally recognised vintage quality and reputation of the vineyard and winery. Wine needs at least five professional ratings to get the Tb score. Tastingbook.com is the world's largest wine information service which is an unbiased, non-commercial and free for everyone.

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The Story

Masseto was born ‘almost by chance’ in 1986 when it was decided to vinify the Merlot from the Masseto vineyard alone as it ‘promised well’. This small, exceptional and legendary cru has soon become a collector’s item sold in auctions all over the world. The first vintage was called very simply ‘Merlot’ but, from 1987, it has taken on the name of its vineyard ‘Masseto’.

The Masseto vineyard is a unique place. Blessed with the generosity of a Mediterranean climate, this small vineyard enjoys breath-taking views, which stretch to the Tuscan coast, and a mosaic of different soils including an exceptional presence of grey clay. The gentle breezes coming off the sea during the war summer months, the intensity of the sunlight and the specificity of the unique soils, allow the vines to develop and ripen gradually and contribute to granting Masseto its enchanting combination of freshness and ripeness.

The wine is the synthesis of its singular 7 hectare vineyard formed of three types of soil. At the top of the hill, at around 120 metres above sea level, the loosest ground is made up of clay and sand with numerous pebbles and, this contributes to the elegant nature of the wine. In the sloping part of the vineyard (with about a 10% gradient), grey clay predominates and gives the wine its structural backbone. Lastly, the lower rows grow on less clayey soil which lends the wine its fullness, warmth and generosity.

The bunches, hand harvested in 15kg crates, were carefully sorted by hand on a double sorting table before and after destemming and then subjected to a gentle crushing. Six different lots were vinified separately. Fermentation took place in both steel and wood tanks, followed by 15-20 days maceration at a temperature between 25 and 30° C. Afterwards, malolactic fermentation took place in 100% new oak barrique, and the different lots were kept separate for the first 12 months of maturation. The wine was then blended and reintroduced into the barrels for another year, making a total of 24 months. After bottling, the wine was aged for an additional 12 months prior to release.

 

Tenuta dell'Ornellaia makes outstanding wines even in poor vintages - better than any other. In the capable hands of winemaker Thomas Duroux and consultant Michel Rolland, the estate continues its long-standing, stellar record of world-class wine production. Even the estate's "second" wines demonstrate high quality grape growing and flawless production methods. Located in Tuscany's tiny coastal DOC of Bolgheri, the estate was one of the first to plant vines in the area. With producers like Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia, Antinori, Grattamacco, and Le Macchiole among others, Bolgheri is the hotbed of winemaking momentum in Toscana.

With the same name as the winery, a reference to the grove of flowering ash trees surrounding it, Ornellaia is the estate's principal wine. The 63 acres of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with small plantings of Cabernet Franc vines, lie on elevated parcels composed of clay, gravel, and loam soils. The clones of diverse origins yield a rich palette of nuances. All grapes are destemmed, gently pressed, and introduced into either wooden or stainless steel fermentation vessels. Maceration takes place over a period of 25-32 days at a temperature not exceeding 30 degrees Celsius, during which time the wine completes its alcoholic fermentation. The juice remains unblended until the wines have spent approximately one year in small French barriques. The final cuvee is assembled to evoke the vinous finess of the Cabernet highlighted by ripe, aromatic notes of Merlot in an elegant yet firm style balancing fruit, acidity, oak, and tannic backbone.

The estate's Le Volte is a blend of Tuscan Sangiovese with Bordeaux's Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that can be considered a "Young Ornellaia." They also produce Le Serre Nuove, the "second Ornellaia," and Masseto, one Bolgheri's greatest wines!

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Wine Information

Climate and Harvest 1998
The end of Winter and beginning of Spring were mild favouring an early budding of the vines. Flowering took place at the end of May followed by a uniform setting of the berry. The Summer months were very hot and dry reaching, at times, temperatures well above average.
The vintage saw very little rainfall (only 450 mm in the whole year) with average humidity levels. The ‘veraison’ took place in mid July in a very uniform way. At the end of July, the grapes were thinned in order to ensure that those remaining on the vines matured under the best conditions.
The harvesting of the Merlot was carried out under fine climate conditions during the period 3-9 September totally by hand. The harvest was made in different ‘lots’. The grapes were collected in small baskets of max. 15 kg and conveyed immediately to the cellars for crushing.

Winemaker’s Notes

It can hardly be easy to exceed an impressive year such as 1997, yet 1998 too can certainly lay claim, in Bolgheri, to the title of vintage of the decade. Another warm summer yielded a powerful, concentrated Masseto, one of amazing character. Denseness, breadth, and depth of fruit are all well-supported by a superbly-supple mass of tannins, giving the wine an overwhelming impression of solidity and youthfulness. Still under-developed but already showing significant impact, this is a Masseto destined for long cellaring.


 

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Tasting note

color

Medium and Ruby red

ending

Long

flavors

Blackberry, Licorice, Vanilla, Coffee, Cedar and Earthy

nose

Open

recommend

Yes

taste

High alcohol content, Complex, Well-structured, Full-bodied, Ripe and Full

Written Notes

Moderately intense ruby colour. Open, complex and developing nose with raw coffee, cedar and earthy aromas combined with ripe blackberry notes. A full-bodied, extracted taste with refined ripe tannins. Very intense, with ripe dark fruit and a well-balanced, pronounced oak character that stands up with vanilla flavours. The long finish is highlighted by alcohol and glycerine with liquorice flavours in the aftertaste.
  • 90p

A dark, seamless beauty, the 1998 Masseto is off the charts. This is such a remarkable bottle. At twenty years of age, the 1998 is still very young, but its exotic beauty and sheer opulence make it such a pleasure to drink and taste on this evening. The very hot, dry year yielded a sumptuous, bold wine with tons of depth that really emerges with time in the glass. What a wine!

  • 98p

Not easy to exceed an impressive year such as 1997, yet 1998 too can certainly lay claim, in Bolgheri, to the title of vintage of the decade. Another warm summer yielded a powerful, concen- trated Masseto, one of amazing character. Density, breadth, and depth of fruit are all well-supported by a superbly-supple mass of tannins, giving the wine an overwhelming impression of solidity and youthfulness. Still under-developed but already showing significant impact, this is a Masseto destined for long cellaring.

1998 Masseto has a slightly closed nose, revealing notes of crème de cassis, baked blueberries and black forest cake with touches of licorice, violets and Indian spices plus a waft of dusty soil. The palate is full-bodied, concentrated and built like a brick house, with firm, ripe, velvety tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long and spicy.

  • 97p

A massive and deeply impressing wine which is a wonderful combination of maturity and freshness. The colour is dark purple red with a slight brick red hue. The nose convinces with an aroma reminiscent of juicy plums, ripe blackberries, fresh figs, aromatic mulberries and hints of Vanilla in the background. On the palate the wine shows an opulent taste with velvety tannins and an elegant freshness. A wine with impressing length and great potential. 100/100

  • 100p
A clear, medium-intensity ruby red colour. The extremely open nose is layered and has a hint of maturity: herbal, raw coffee, cedar, earth notes. In the full-bodied and concentrated palate medium acids working together with slightly rounded, ripe tannins and an intense fruitiness establish an outstanding structure for the wine. There are liquorice, oak and blackcurrant notes, and the addition of vanilla in the finish. The ample alcohol is nicely integrated and gives the wine a glycerolic roundness. In the words of Serena Sutcliffe, a majestic wine. This wine is ready to drink right now, but will mature nicely over the next ten years.
  • 94p
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Information

Origin

Bolgheri, Tuscany

Other wines from this producer

La Serre Nuove dell'Ornellaia

Le Serre Nuove dell'Ornellaia

Le Volte dell'Ornellaia

Le Volte dell’Ornellaia

Ornellaia

Ornellaia Bianco

Poggio alle Gazze dell'Ornellaia

Inside Information

In the Cellar 
Apr 2007
Antonio Galloni 93 Drink: 2008 - 2018 $641-$965
The 1998 Masseto is another wine that is drinking particularly well today. It is opulent and expansive on the palate, where it offers plenty of ripe dark fruit along with more advanced notes of tobacco, showing much length and style although the tannins finish slightly hard and dry. 93/Anticipated maturity: 2008-2018. 

The 100% Merlot Masseto, on the other hand, has proven to be a wine of greater singularity. Its unique, unmistakable personality always comes through, especially in a set of widely diverse vintages, as this vertical attests. The Masseto vineyard measures roughly 7 hectares. Set on a gently sloping hill, the vineyard is divided into three sections which contain different clay-based soil types. The structure of Masseto comes from the central portion of the vineyard (Masseto Centrale), where the terrain is most compact. Towards the upper part of the hillside (Masseto Alto) the soils contain a higher percentage of rocks and thus yield wines that are more aromatic. The lower stretch of the vineyard, known as “Masseto Junior,” is also the most recent to be planted. According to Raspini the fruit from these vines bridges the qualities of the wines from the central and upper portions of the vineyard and thus serves to give Masseto its finesse and balance. There is also a small amount of fruit that comes from the “Vigna Vecchia” plot which is the source of the Merlot that is used for Ornellaia.

Each parcel is harvested and vinified separately. Fermentation and maceration typically last around 25 days, give or take, depending on the quality of the fruit, after which the wines are moved into 100% new French oak barrels for the malolactic fermentations. The wines spend 12 months in oak prior to being assembled, after which the final blend spends an additional 12 months in oak prior to being bottled.

Tenuta dell’Ornellaia is without question one of Italy’s blue-chip properties. The gorgeous, sprawling estate is located in Bolgheri in Tuscany’s Maremma. On a recent visit I had the opportunity to taste a number of the estate’s wines with General Manager/Agronomist Leonardo Raspini and Oenologist Axel Heinz, including verticals of the estate’s top bottlings Ornellaia and Masseto.
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