With the 1999 vintage Masseto returns to another powerful, fresh and vibrant expression of this wine. Conveying an impression of youth, the 1999 Masseto reveals layers of dark fruit that open in the glass with much persistence on the palate and terrific overall balance. It is stunning vintage for this wine. 95/ Anticipated maturity: 2009-2019.
The 100% Merlot Masseto, on the other hand, has proven to be a wine of greater singularity. Its unique, unmistakable personality always comes through, especially in a set of widely diverse vintages, as this vertical attests. The Masseto vineyard measures roughly 7 hectares. Set on a gently sloping hill, the vineyard is divided into three sections which contain different clay-based soil types. The structure of Masseto comes from the central portion of the vineyard (Masseto Centrale), where the terrain is most compact. Towards the upper part of the hillside (Masseto Alto) the soils contain a higher percentage of rocks and thus yield wines that are more aromatic. The lower stretch of the vineyard, known as "Masseto Junior," is also the most recent to be planted. According to Raspini the fruit from these vines bridges the qualities of the wines from the central and upper portions of the vineyard and thus serves to give Masseto its finesse and balance.
There is also a small amount of fruit that comes from the "Vigna Vecchia" plot which is the source of the Merlot that is used for Ornellaia. Each parcel is harvested and vinified separately. Fermentation and maceration typically last around 25 days, give or take, depending on the quality of the fruit, after which the wines are moved into 100% new French oak barrels for the malolactic fermentations. The wines spend 12 months in oak prior to being assembled, after which the final blend spends an additional 12 months in oak prior to being bottled. Tenuta dell'Ornellaia is without question one of Italy's blue-chip properties. The gorgeous, sprawling estate is located in Bolgheri in Tuscany's Maremma. On a recent visit I had the opportunity to taste a number of the estate's wines with General Manager/Agronomist Leonardo Raspini and Oenologist Axel Heinz, including verticals of the estate's top bottlings Ornellaia and Masseto.