x
  • Decanting time

    4h
  • When to drink

    2020-2035

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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Written Notes

The Masseto 2017 Masseto puts on another exhilarating, knock-out performance for the third year in a row. The Masseto vineyard is a triangular-shaped plot tucked in at the back of the same property that houses the Ornellaia vineyards and winery. This special site is located at the base of the mountains that rise gently from the Tyrrhenian Sea, with the picturesque silhouette of the Castiglioncello castle at the top. The vines are planted at an altitude of 80 to 100 meters above sea level in blue clay soils that are unique to Bolgheri. That ideal position opens the vineyards to soft breezes, proximity to the sea, long daylight hours and cool diurnal shifts from the protective wall of low mountains at the back. It's a little garden of Merlot Eden. The center of the vineyard now is home to the new Masseto winery and an adjacent tasting room built into a pre-existing farmhouse. This wine was made in the old winery (the existing Ornellaia winery). Fermentation kicks off in a combination of steel and oak tanks before the wine is racked over to barrique, where it rests for two years. The wine then goes into bottle for 12 months before its release. Like most vintages of Masseto tasted this early in the game, the oak is omnipresent, and it grounds the wine in terms of texture and structure. It is powerful, but that's always the case with Masseto (this vintage records a 15.5% alcohol content). I tasted this wine next to the decidedly more playful Massetino, and the Masseto moves over the palate with substantial fruit weight and concentration gained over the course of this hot and dry growing season (which produced smaller, richer and more compact berries). Perhaps, what this vintage lacks is that profound varietal character that we saw in recent vintages like 2016 and 2015. If concerned that the hot vintage would draw out too many ripe fruit tones, the oak serves to soften some of the more volatile components of the fruit. Those distinctive notes of macchia mediterranea (wild bush) that I always associate with Masseto are less present in this vintage. You feel the oak tannins on the finish with toast and vanilla that will certainly shed as the wine ages. In fact, I went back to taste the wine 12 hours later, and they had already softened considerably. This 2017 vintage will be released in October 2020.

There is big news from Masseto. It's the introduction of a second wine called Massetino that debuts with the 2017 vintage. That wine was released late last year, and Masseto will hit the market in October of this year. Because of the very hot and dry conditions of the 2017 vintage, the Masseto team adopted a "less is more" winemaking approach with brief maceration times to ease extraction and to avoid overly concentrated fruit flavors. Merlot came off of the vines before average picking times, resulting in the earliest harvest in Masseto's history. However, Bolgheri always enjoys soft sea breezes, and the Masseto clay soils can capture moisture. For these reasons, the heat of the vintage was well-managed by this expert winery team.

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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

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