x
  • Country ranking ?

    187
  • Producer ranking ?

    19
  • Decanting time

    4h
  • When to drink

    now to 2040

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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

 In the cellar the Director of Production and winemaker Axel Heinz guides the technical staff in all phases of vinification, capturing the desired components of each lot to feature in the signature Merlot wine. Once the vinification is determined, time is then called upon to make its contribution: Masseto is aged for 12 months in barriques; after this first period of ageing the wine is then blended and returned to barriques for an additional year. After these 24 months in the barrels the wine refines another 12 months in the bottle, so after three years from the harvest, the Masseto is ready to be released.

‘Masseto 2008 is the expression of a warm vintage, due to harvest completing in the first weeks of September – says Axel Heinz, Director of Production and Winemaker -- the intense concentration, these Merlot grapes give a particularly deep and young color. The nose is characterized by ripe, intense fruit with spicy and mineral notes. On the palate, the wine exhibits concentrated flavors of black fruit. Tannins are prominent, balancing the wine’s opulent richness. Undoubtedly, this is one of the great expressions of Masseto with great aging potential’.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

<10 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Medium

nose

Refined

Written Notes

The 2008 Masseto has never been an easy wine. When it was first released, it was so hard and unyielding. Time has helped the 2008 soften a bit. Even so, it remains a wine of contrasts, of a very obvious push and pull that seems to mirror a growing season marked by alternating periods of warm weather and far cooler conditions. Graphite, smoke, tar and licorice, along with broad tannins, give the 2008 a real feeling of masculine power, qualities that are accentuated in the magnum format.

  • 97p

Masseto 2008 is the expression of a warm vintage, most of it having been harvested in the first half of September. With great concentration, its color is particularly deep and young. The nose is characterized by rich and fully ripe fruit yet without any traces of over ripeness, focused and intense with spicy and mineral notes. On the palate the wine is remarkably dense, concentrated and opulent, with a very pure expression of fruit. The tannins are present and firm giving the wine focus and precision to balance the wine’s opulent richness. It is undoubtedly one of the great expressions of Masseto with a great ageing potential.

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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

Wine Advocate #201
Jun 2012
Antonio Galloni 97+ Drink: 2018 - 2033 $622-$994 (500)
The 2008 Masseto is another huge wine. It boasts tons of energy in a tense, inward style I can only describe as implosive, as if the wine is holding back all of its energy. A deep core of black fruit, grilled herbs, licorice and new leather emerges from time to time, but the tannins are still imposing. There is no shortage of pedigree. I fully expect the 2008 to develop into one of the great Massetos. Needless to say, it will be interesting to taste the 2008 in vertical tastings in the future. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2033.

The 2009 vintage was not easy at Tenuta dell’Ornellaia because of the scorching hot summer. Readers may want to take a look at my video interview with Axel Heinz for more on the 2009 vintage.
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