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Harvest started on 14 September, with the youngest vines of ‘Masseto Junior’ and ‘Masseto Isola’ and was concluded on 4 October with the left section of ‘Masseto Centrale’; that concluding date was the latest ever in the history of Masseto, yielding a total of five different vinification lots. The clusters were hand-picked into 15-kg boxes and then graded and selected by hand on a double sorting table, before and after destemming, and finally carefully crushed. Each single vineyard block was vinified separately. Fermentation took place in both steel and oak, followed by a 15-20 day maceration at 25-28°C. The wine then began malolactic fermentation, in new oak barriques. Each individual lot was matured separately for the first 12 months. The wine was then assembled and returned to the barriques for an additional year, for a total of 24 months. After bottling, the wine aged a further 12 months prior to release.
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!
Bolgheri, December 2013 – Masseto 2010 has now been released to the international markets. This fine cru is produced exclusively from merlot grown in a vineyard of just seven hectares, planted on the hill that gives Masseto its name. Rated by Liv-Ex as Italy’s number one wine, Masseto has also been the first Italian wine to receive a listing, in 2008, in Place de Bordeaux, En Livrable.
“Cool weather conditions in 2010 resulted in the wine’s remarkably elegant expression and ultra-rich aromatics. It appears a deep, near-opaque red, and the nose exhibits great depth of fruit highlighted by refined hints of spice and mineral. If the palate is a tad less opulent than in previously warmer vintages, the tannins here are dense and close-packed, and drive a lengthy, firm progression. The finish shows great momentum, displaying subtle notes of toastiness and chocolate. This Masseto is truly about elegance and finesse, but it remains, as always, majestic”, explained Axel Heinz, Ornellaia Production Director and Winemaker.
“The 2010 growing season will go into the history books as one of the slowest in recent years. Right from budbreak, we noticed a delayed development of some 10 days, which continued up to the harvest. A rainy spring was followed by a dry, hot summer, which ensured optimal development of the clusters. September brought some scattered rains, which did interrupt somewhat the harvest, but there were enough clear, dry periods to allow the fruit to attain full ripeness. The soundness of the grapes was the fruit of expert vineyard management, and in particular of leaf-pulling. One clear advantage of the cool weather was excellent development of the grapes’ aromatic compounds, which feature extremely crisp floral and fruit notes”, remarked Leonardo Raspini, Ornellaia General Manager and Agronomist.
In the winemaking cellar, each individual vineyard parcel is vinified separately, under the watchful eye of winemaker Axel Heinz. Then the Merlot entrusted to the process of time. The separate lots of Merlot spend the first 12 months of maturation in new barriques, then, after the final blend has been assembled, the wine returns to barrels for further 12 months. Upon completion of this period, Masseto ages in the bottle for another year. Thus, a full three years after harvest, Masseto is ready for release.