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The hallmark of Masseto is its power and impressive tannic structure. The 2007 vintage displays, in addition, an overwhelming elegance and complex wealth of aromatics, boasting impressions of perfectly ripe red and dark berry fruit, along with balsamic notes of wild herbs, smooth spices, and cocoa. The mouthfeel is dense, rich, intense, with glossy, silk-smooth tannins. A very long, leisurely finish reveals a good vein of acidity and concludes clean and fresh.
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 2007
2007 began with a very mild Winter, with less rainfall than usual. As a result bud break occurred about 10 days early. Spring was mild too, with rains coming just when they were required, which allowed excellent vegetative growth and led the vines to flower early. June rains, which occurred throughout Tuscany, accompanied the development of the grapes. Summer finally started with a July, which was hot and dry, followed by an August which was cooler, with classic mid-month thunderstorms that slowed the ripening of the grapes, bringing the projected harvest date in line with the average. A perfect September with brilliant sun, mild temperatures, and little rain permitted a perfectly slow, steady ripening of the grapes, concentrating polyphenols and aromatic compounds, without leading to any over-ripeness.
Vinification and Ageing
The grapes were picked between 3 and 15 September on four different occasions, according to the ripening in the various vineyards blocks. The grapes were carefully hand-picked and put into 15-kg baskets. After this first selection, the grapes were examined again on a double selection table, before and after destemming. After soft-pressing, fermentation took place in part in steel tanks, and in part in upright oaken casks. The criterion used to determine the tank type was vineyard provenance: every parcel of the Masseto vineyard was vinified separately. After fermentation at 25-28 °C, the wines macerated on the skins for 10-15 days at 28°C, bringing the total time in vat to 20-25 days.
The malolactic fermentation took place in oak barriques (all new). Total aging was 24 months, in the Masseto temperature-controlled barrel room. After the first 12 months of aging, the wine was assembled, and then returned to the barriques for another 12 months. Following bottling, the wine was then bottle-aged for a further 12 months prior to release.