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94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
94+ The 2009 Masseto bursts from the glass with dark red berries, blackberries, flowers, licorice and tar. It shows lovely up-front juiciness and expressive inner perfume in a surprisingly accessible style for this wine. Like the Ornellaia, the 2009 Masseto has quite a bit of freshness, although it, too, is medium-bodied in structure. In this vintage the Ornellaia team was especially selective and only used part of the three vineyards that typically go into Masseto. I have been fortunate to taste every vintage of Masseto, most more than once recently. Masseto has a great track record for aging, even in the smallest, least promising of vintages. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2029.
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!
The 2009 growing season saw a Winter and early Spring that were cool and rainy, and budbreak occurred in line with past years. May was dry, but the rains returned in June, without however negatively impacting vine growth or flowering. Summer was practically rainless, and hot, with temperatures often rising above 35°C and very narrow day-night temperature differences. Strong scirocco winds from Africa between late August and early September hastened the ripening process, particularly in early-ripening varieties such as Merlot its harvest was one of the earliest and most rapid in Masseto’s history.
At the top of the Masseto hill, at an elevation of about 120 meters above sea level, the soils consist of loose clays and sand with many pebbles, which bless the wine with a marked elegance. This is the area definined as “Masseto Alto”. “Masseto Centrale” is the central part of the Masseto vineyard, which determines the soul and backbone of Masseto. With slopes of a 10% gradient, the high proportion of Pliocene clays defines the character of this terroir, providing power, concentration and tannic support, and therefore great character, structure and longevity. Finally, the lowermost rows grow on less clayey soils, giving the wine its breadth, softness, and generosity. This final area is called “Masseto Junior”. Within each of these three zones there are smaller areas that ripen differently and therefore require to be harvested at different times. Such a complex mosaic will naturally reflect in the wine by displaying great complexity and revealing multi-facet dimension.
Masseto 2009 is the expression of a particularly warm growing season that showcased all of the noble qualities of a great terroir. Working in harmony with the clay soil of the Masseto vineyard, we succeeded in achieving the balance, crispness, and aromatic complexity that are classic to all great wines. An impressively dark hue, Masseto 2009 mirrors its vintage, exhibiting intense impressions of ripe cherry, chocolate, spice, and coffee. Profound and full-volumed in the mouth, it boasts explosive fruit, and tannins which are glossy and firm. Its vein of crisp acidity fuels a long finish marked by a vivacious crispness. Tasted May 2012