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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 2002

2002’s weather report can be divided in two parts: before and after the 10th August. The early part of the vines’ vegetative cycle was slightly advanced, followed by normal flowering and fruit setting, despite the alternating spells of hot and cold weather.
The biological phases of the vines proceeded regularly and within the seasonal average. At the beginning of July, a green harvest was carried out which reduced the bunches on the vines by about 30%.
After 10th August the wet conditions substantially modified the normal ‘habitus’ of the vine, encouraging a modification in the canopy growth which rendered indispensable careful, constant work of the vineyard workers in order to control the relationship between the cluster and foliage growth. This produced a very well-balanced Merlot and ensured a slow, perfect poliphenolic ripening.
The harvest started on the 4th September in the upper part of the Masseto vineyard and was completed on the 25th of September with the central part of this vineyard.

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.
The vineyards
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


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Tasting note


Medium, Ruby red and Clear


Long and Spicy


Blackcurrant, Cherry, New-oak, Chocolate and Spice






High in Acidity, Well-Integrated, Complex, Full-bodied, Harmonious, Ripe, Firm and Hard tannins

Written Notes

Clear and moderately dense ruby colour. Complex and delicate aromas of intense ripe, dark fruits, white chocolate and spicy oak penetrate through the restrained nose. The moderately high acidity, firm and ripe, but hard tannins with fleshy, intense, dark fruitiness of cherries and black currants, are in good balance and result in the harmony of this vigorous, fleshy wine. Well-integrated, spicy oak character. The long, full-bodied and spicy finish is marked with mouth-puckering tannins. Wine with some potential but not very appealing right now
  • 89p

The 2002 Masseto is such a gorgeous wine. Red cherry, sweet red plum, spice and floral overtones all convey freshness. Medium in body, yet with lovely depth, the 2002 is an example of how well Masseto can do in cool, rainy years. As always, the magnum format helps. The 2002 spent 20 months in oak, a bit less than normal.

  • 95p

As often happens Masseto surprises us in the more challenging vintages. In 2002 it has yielded an utterly beautiful wine that compensates a lesser richness with e restrained and refined elegance, complex aromatics and a silky texture. The wine has been drinking well almost since release and starts to reach full maturity which it should maintain for at least another decade.

Ruby red, medium-depth colour. The nose is elegant, open and giving, with notes of green, roasted coffee and an exciting dash of beef boullion. In the palate the wine’s greenness is emphasised in the coarse tannins, robust acidity. Due to the cool crop year, the fruit structure remains a touch light in relation to the oak use and oakiness, and the tannins dominate the medium-long finish. Alcohol is also brought out at the close. A big, medium-bodied wine, which matures into drinkability at a young age. This wine will always be characterised by its green aromas and somewhat coarse tannins, but, on the other hand, it is also fresher. At its prime in 3-5 years.
  • 88p
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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 Bianco

Poggio alle Gazze dell'Ornellaia


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