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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!
Climate and Harvest 1999
Winter was slightly colder than in 1998, with budbreak delayed until around late March. During Spring temperatures and rains were within the norm, with flowering and growth similar to the previous year. Flowering took place at the end of May. The excellent climate during late Spring resulted in a better-than-average fruit set. A hot Summer without rain led to veraison one week earlier than in previous vintages, with very consistent fruit. Around mid-July, cluster-thinning wad carried out in the Merlot to ensure optimum ripening for the remaining fruit. Harvest started during the second week of September and lasted 7 days under ideal weather conditions; grapes were hand-picked and brought to the cellars in small 15 kg boxes, each lot separately.
Masseto – Tenuta dell´Ornellaia
Tenuta dell’Ornellaia is situated on the Via Bolgherese in that triangle between the sea, the medieval hamlet of
Bolgheri and the town of Castagneto Carducci and, to get there, one travels up part of the historic ‘cypress
avenue’ celebrated by the poet Giosuè Carducci. The property comprises 97 hectares planted to Cabernet
Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Since the Tenuta dell’Ornellaia’s foundation in 1981, this beautiful and unspoiled area has become synonymous
with winemaking of the first order and has seen the birth of great labels such as: Ornellaia, Le Serre Nuove
dell’Ornellaia, Masseto and Le Volte.
Tenuta dell’Ornellaia’s philosophy is ‘quality without compromise.’
Key elements of this unique terroir are its soil and climate. Man’s work is also an integral part of this search for
excellence and is expressed through: extraordinary care in the vineyards, during the harvest and in vinification,
in bottling and promoting the wines. Behind these famous labels is a team of experts from every winemaking
sector who interpret the principles of the estate as they were set out twenty years ago on a daily basis.
Tenuta dell’Ornellaia lies on the Tuscan coast, in the area just north of the Maremma between Leghorn and the
Island of Elba, and which, for more than twenty years, has been one of the most interesting in Italy for making
Tenuta dell’Ornellaia’s story began in 1981 when its founder, Marchese Lodovico Antinori, selected the plots of
land in Bolgheri, a still untamed area of the Tuscan Maremma, for planting Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc
and Merlot. He considered these the vines most suited to benefiting from the area’s extraordinary and special
In March 1999 the californian wine producer Robert Mondavi purchased minority shares in the Estate and
becomes owner in 2002, passing 50% of the shares to the Tuscan wine producing family Marchesi de’
Frescobaldi. In April 2005 Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi take over total ownership.
The Team that leads the Tenuta autonomously, consistently takes its inspiration from the principles that helped
to build up the success of the estate and the fame of its products throughout the years. The past is something to
be treasured, but Tenuta dell’Ornellaia believes, above all, in the future and has proved this by entrusting its
fortunes to a brilliant, young, international team lead by Leonardo Raspini (agronomist and General Manager),
Alexandra Belson (Commercial Director) and Axel Heinz (Winemaker). They stand out because of their
enthusiasm, their ambition and their desire for innovation. Each considers quality as the norm in carrying forward
development both personally and as a team whilst their method of working together consistently includes active,
constructive, informative and relentless confrontation. As a result, each meeting and each conversation is both
an opportunity and the premise for helping the estate grow.
This wine 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 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.
Masseto is 100% Merlot and is aged in barriques for 24 months, followed by a further 12 months in the bottle. It
is then ready for release on to the market but still has a very long life ahead. The result is a wine with great
structure and longevity which, due to the selection made and philosophy behind it, is produced in very limited
Soil: loose clay with sand and stones
Production area: 8 ha
Grape varieties: 100% Merlot
Average age of vines: 15 years
Harvest method: hand picked
Ageing: in barriques for 24 months, followed by a further 12 months in the bottle
Via Bolgherese, 191
57020 Bogheri (LI)
Tel. + 39 (0)565 71811
Fax + 39 (0)565 718230