The new vintage, 2019, to be released to market on 1 October, an expression of energy brimming with nuances of colour.
“Opening a bottle of Masseto is the equivalent of unleashing a liquid kaleidoscope,” says Estate Director Axel Heinz. “It’s the perfect balance between nature and climate, where humans play a fundamental role, like the conductor of an orchestra, gradually revealing the signature notes of a magical place, of a vineyard that still has many secrets to disclose.”
Masseto is an intact, harsh and complex place. The land is difficult to work and the sometimes extreme conditions make the result even more sublime as it can never be taken for granted. Axel Heinz defines it as “a place where nature makes the most important decisions.” Utmost care and simplicity: this is the concept that underpins the philosophy of the Masseto estate. On the score, the notes, shaped by the sea with its light breeze, are respectfully composed with aromatic and flavour accents, as the bunches are guided towards a slow and expert polyphenol maturity.
2019 was a vintage of unpredictable weather conditions, whose evolution has revealed a truly classical expression. Slow vine growth with cold spring temperatures, which delayed budbreak, made way for a hot summer that restored the equilibrium. The perfect balance between sun and rainfall, due to the maritime influence, contributed to the beginning of the harvest in early September, with the gradual gathering of the various parcels that constitute Masseto. Every parcel expresses itself uniquely, resulting in a complex mosaic, with the blue clay forming the core.
“In Masseto 2019, the young colour is reminiscent of an intense and harmonious wine of exceptional aromas and flavours, rich in red fruit scents and viola nuances,” explains Gaia Cinnirella, Estate Winemaker. “The dimension of the fruit is striking in the mouth, entwining with dreamy, velvety and elegant tannins, plus a refreshing and vibrant finish, where power and simplicity enchant the palate and tell the story of this unique place.”
Aharmonious take on the graceful force of the fruit Massetino 2019, now in its third vintage, born from the selection made for Masseto, with which it shares an underlying identity. Released to market on tiptoes in 2019, this second wine immediately revealed itself as the utmost interpretation of the terroir with a well-defined identity.
Vaunting a harmonious character while remaining profound and powerful, like the land where it comes from, Massetino is a Merlot blend that incorporates a small percentage of Cabernet Franc. “Massetino comes from the careful selection of the estate’s vineyards, which is carried out during the blending stage,”explains Estate Director Axel Heinz. “Our consideration was that the selection of wines that did not end up becoming Masseto could have their own life. A new wine is always a new challenge.”
Massetino 2019 displays the typical traits of a vintage with variable weather conditions, which saw cold, wet spells alternate with long, hot and dry stages. The vine growth was delayed, but it was followed by a hot, sunny summer with next to no rainfall. The precipitation at the end of the summer enabled the Merlot to be harvested at the beginning of September and Cabernet Franc in early October, with a seasonal finish that provided the right conditions for ripening.
The cellar philosophy is to reduce intervention to a bare minimum. The exceptional concentration of the grapes requires no sophisticated winemaking mechanisms; just simple measures. In Massetino, delicate infusion is discerned instead of aggressive extraction. In so doing, the wine displays richness without being heavy. In the cellar, everything has been researched for this very reason: from moving the grapes without using pumps, but by gravity alone, to using vats designed to elicit delicate extraction.
Every parcel of the vineyard is vinified separately with a spontaneous fermentation. The malolactic fermentation takes place in 50% new barriques for 12 months. Lastly, the base wines are blended before being aged for another 3 months in barriques.
“Massetino 2019appears dark and youthful, with perfectly ripe black fruit aromas underlined by notes of new seasoned oak and liquorice. The wine is rich and bodied on the palate, with a refined velvety structure balanced by a frame of refreshing acidity and bold tannins,” describes Axel Heinz, Estate Director.
Masseto, Ornellaia, Tenuta Luce and CastelGiocondo are opening a representative office in the city of Bordeaux, aimed at strengthening their worldwide sales network, starting with the French stronghold of fine wines.
The prestigious Tuscan estates are set to open a representative office in 2022
The first wine estates in Italy to make such an investment.
Masseto, in 2009, was the first Italian wine to be distributed through La Place de Bordeaux. Ornellaia followed suit in 2015. In the wake of their success, in 2019 Tenuta Luce and in 2021 CastelGiocondoBrunello also embraced the international distribution of La Place de Bordeaux. Since 2009, this choice has resulted in ever increasing results. The Négociants boast a centuries-long history of the sale of fine wines at an international level.
“Making top-tier wines is not enough,” explains Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja, CEO of Frescobaldi group. “Knowing how to communicate this quality and choosing the perfect distribution is essential. By considering these years withLa Place de Bordeaux as the first step and examining potential sales growth, it now seems logical for us to open a representative office in Bordeaux. Our goal is to strengthen our position by developing a deeper and more integrated relationship with the Négociants, no longer working from a distance, but in close contact with our partners.”
This stimulating challenge has been entrusted to Patrick Lachapèle who will take on the role of Director of the representative office, returning to France after 16 years in Asia where he worked as Asia-Pacific Export Manager for Baron Philippe de Rothschild and then as Director Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Africa and South America for Ornellaia and Tenuta Luce. Patrick will work alongside the commercial directors of the four estates, which will remain individually managed.
The new office will be operational in the first quarter of 2022.
Masseto wines are available to all markets through La Place de Bordeaux with the exception of Italy, United States and Canada where Masseto retains direct distribution. Ornellaia wines are available as well through La Place de Bordeaux with the exception of Europe, United States and Canada.
In the case of Tenuta Luce, La Place de Bordeaux holds the distribution in Asia (with the exception of Japan), Africa and Middle East meanwhile CastelGiocondo is available with the Négociants in China only.
The extraordinary reaction of the vines to climate change and the resilience of great terroir
Every harvest marks a new chapter that elicits new expertise in knowing how to best interpret the vines and their extraordinary ability to react to nature.
The 2021 vintage was rather difficult, with extreme conditions throughout the year as evidence of the climate change that now characterizes the seasonal development.
At Masseto, strength lies in the ability of the vines to react, helped by what Estate Director Axel Heinz calls the “resilience of a great terroir”: “the characteristics of the vines enabled the climatic extremes to be cushioned and channelled, creating conditions that were limiting yet without an excessive stress for the plants. Fine wines derive from these beginnings.”
The hallmark traits of Masseto – soil and microclimate – proved fundamental in these critical conditions. The blue clay, unique to Masseto, was crucial, capable of accumulating water reserves in the depths of the soil and only releasing the amount of water needed to avoid the excessive stress of the vines and overcome the summer dryness. Themicroclimate, with sea breezes and mild temperatures, provided shelter from the spring frost, while in the summer it ensured the ventilation required to withstand the heat.
The best way to understand this complex vintage is the relationship between men and terroir. The synergy between the soil type and the area, in addition to the constant vineyard management and attention to detail, enabled the year’s potential pitfalls to be turned into extraordinary strengths.
The harvest, which went without rain from start to finish, began on 30 August, with the youngest vines and higher, more precocious parcels in Masseto Alto. The Merlot was harvested on five different occasions until mid-September, while the Cabernet Franc was gathered between 15 and 28 September.
Initial impressions would point to a very stylish vintage. As soon as the wines (which are currently showing great potential) have been racked, which is about to finish, they will be moved into barriques for a lengthy period of ageing. The road ahead is long, but Axel Heinz explains his initial impressions: “The dry season concentrated the grapes, which yielded intense wines with great potential. The colours are particularly intense, like the aromas characterised by fully ripened black fruit. In the mouth we find the unmistakable balance between richness and firmness that distinguishes Masseto. The wines develop a rich and concentrated palate, with dense and velvety tannins, as the result of careful and soft extraction, underpinned by striking acidity that is reminiscent of some of the best vintages such as 2006, 2010 and 2016.”
All of these expectations will take two years to reach their conclusion, when the wine will have finished ageing and become ready for bottling. The established practice at Masseto means that cellar intervention is limited to a bare minimum so that the wines find their natural balance between fullness and harmony, which displays their sense of belonging to a terroir with an unmistakable identity. Masseto, as Axel Heinz describes it, is “truly a magical place where nature makes the most important decisions”.
News about the 2021 vintage
2021 brought news to the winery with the arrival of Gaia Cinnirella, who beginning with this harvest became the winemaker at Masseto under the supervision of Axel Heinz. Gaia, formerly Assistant Technical Director and Vineyard Manager at Biondi Santi from 2018 to 2021, is enthusiastic about contributing to the oenological development and stability of a winery like Masseto: “After work placements at leading wineries like Allegrini and Tenuta San Guido, I was able to hone my passion first at Istine and then at Biondi Santi. Now I’m proud to be part of this incredible team and I’m excited to contribute towards making uniquely characterful wines. It’s a dream for those, like me, who love their work and see every experience as an opportunity to grow. The extremely stimulating and ever evolving environment will be a challenge for me, while always looking to the future in the way that a wine like Masseto requires.”
Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja, CEO of Masseto, has announced today the new executive team of Masseto Estate which will see Tim Banks as the new Sales & Marketing Director, alongside Axel Heinz, who continues his commitment as Estate Director.
The role of Sales & Marketing Director was held until 2019 by Alex Belson who decided to retire after two decades of successful work. Alex Belson joined Ornellaia in 1999 and since 2015 she has dedicated herself exclusively to Masseto in the role of Sales & Marketing Director, becoming an international point of reference for the winery.
“The quality, creativity and complete dedication of Alex” states Giovanni Geddes in his message of thanks and greetings “have greatly helped the growth of these two companies which in recent years have seen an important increase in their turnover”.
Tim Banks, Ornellaia’s Sales & Marketing Director since 2015, thus doubles his role and begins a new further professional path. He will be supported by a new team formed of Vianney Gravereaux as the new Global Sales Manager, Susanne Weber as Brand Manager and Elena Oprea in the role of Communication Manager. Eleonora Marconi continues as winemaker of Masseto.
In Masseto’s thirty-year history, each new vintage is eagerly awaited with the anticipation that this wine deserves. An anticipation which was fully satisfied with a 2016 which, thanks to a textbook vintage, was able to capture and fully express the distinctiveness of the hill it comes from.
Masseto 2016 is once again a remarkable expression of power and class, of silky concentration, of extremely balanced complexity coming from a vineyard located 120 meters above sea level, only a few kilometres away from the Mediterranean coast and planted on blue clay soils, which are unique in the Bolgheri area.
In the glass, the wine reveals “a particularly intense and young colour, on the nose, the intense aroma of ripe dark fruit blends with subtle notes of cocoa and spices. On the palate, the rich and dense structure of ripe and silky tannins is balanced by a sensual and vibrant fruity note and a lively acidity that creates a long finish that is clean and full-bodied”. This is how Eleonora Marconi describes it, the winemaker of Masseto who works under the directorship of Axel Heinz. A verdict unanimously shared by influential wine critics who reviewed Masseto even before its official release on the market.
After a legendary 2015, it was perhaps ambitious to expect another textbook vintage but 2016 turned out to be highly successful with a dry and sunny growing season, plenty of sunshine and the right amount of rain, which accompanied the grapes to a perfect maturation. After verifying the excellent phenolic potential of the grapes and the balanced sugar/acidity ratio, harvest began on 24 August, starting from the youngest vines/rows and ended on 20 September in the ‘Masseto Centrale,’ section of the vineyard, home to the older vines/plants.
Today Masseto, a wine that has been internationally acclaimed since its inception in the 1980s, has its own winery. Only the grape receiving area and a farmhouse called ‘Casa Masseto’ are externally visible. It is within the depths of the hill that most of the winery is located. A series of spaces with varying internal volumes, heights and levels that are reminiscent of a sacred place and offer the perfect wine-making and aging conditions for Masseto.
In the heart of the winery lies the ‘Masseto Caveau,’ – the winery’s historical library. Few bottles from each and every vintage are preserved here as the jewels of the winery, suspended inside a stainless-steel mesh. And it is right here where a few bottles of Masseto 2016 have been laid down to age in a perfect environment.
This April, Masseto has inaugurated its “home” with a wine cellar designed by the architects ZitoMori. Carved deep into the ancient blue clay that underpins the vineyard, the Masseto winery is a physical and symbolic tribute to the Estate’s history and rapid evolution from intuition about the hidden potential of a vineyard site, to internationally acclaimed wine.
Masseto, located on the Tuscan coast close to the small village of Bolgheri, is a wine that was never meant to exist. The potential of the slope where the vineyard now sits was finally seen in the 1980’s, when, against all odds, advice and local tradition, the first vines were planted. Intuition paid off. The blue clay, cooling coastal breezes and abundant refracted light from the Tyrrhenian Sea all contribute to Masseto’s intriguing combination of power, elegance and complexity. Massetohas received international acclaim since its birth in 1986.
The Masseto estate is controlled by the Frescobaldi Family group.
Massetino 2017 the ‘second vin’ of Masseto will make its début in October 2019 and will be available to selected accounts in Italy and the US during its first vintage release.
“Massetino comes from a strict selection from the estate vineyards made during blending” says Axel Heinz, Estate Director.
The 2017 vintage was hot and dry, requiring a very accurate selection. Less Masseto was produced, so it was considered the right moment to bottle Massetino.
Giovanni Geddes, CEO Masseto comments: ‘It seems to be a natural development for the Masseto Estate to produce a ‘second vin’ and the 2017 vintage proved to be the right time to do it. It is an exciting moment for the Masseto Estate and the new winery provides us with the right environment to pursue this new project’.
2017 will be remembered as one of the hottest and driest vintages in recent history. Due to an unusually mild winter with temperatures 3°C above average, budbreak occurred two weeks earlier than usual. Apart from a brief period of cold weather towards the end of April, the entire growing season was dominated by warm and dry weather, leading to a reduced development of the canopy.
As a result, Massetino 2017 represents the characteristics of this vintage: dark in colour with rich and ripe aromatics, dominated by ripe plums and blackberries. The palate is broad and rich, with a remarkable freshness and firmness of structure.
Only a very limited number of bottles have been produced in this first vintage and distribution has therefore been concentrated to selected accounts in Italy and in the US.
An architectural masterpiece quarried from the blue clay
Carved deep into the ancient blue clay that underpins the vineyard, the Masseto winery is a physical and symbolic tribute to the Estate’s history and rapid evolution from intuition about the hidden potential of a vineyard site, to internationally acclaimed wine.
‘The Winery is a tribute to the past, present and future of Masseto. It celebrates the incredible story of a wine that was never meant to exist,’ said Masseto CEO, Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja. ‘Years of planning and effort have been dedicated to building the right home for Masseto. One that consolidates three decades of experience, where every aspect has been designed to meet the winemaking team’s highly detailed requirements.’
Technical facilities in the subterranean building, reminiscent of a sacred temple, have been stripped back to low-impact basics. ‘Nothing is missing, and there is no more than necessary,’ said Masseto Estate Director, Axel Heinz. He stressed that winemaking at Masseto, which balances austerity, modernity and tradition, will remain unchanged. ‘Our wine making is about reducing the process, reducing intervention, with a ‘less is more’ philosophy.’
Designed by architects Hikaru Mori and Maurizio Zito of the ZitoMori Studio, the building represents and reinforces Masseto’s discreet but powerful identity. Above ground, only the low lines of the grape reception area and the restored Masseto House emerge from the hill.
Built to incorporate a gravity flow winemaking process, and benefiting from the blue clay’s natural insulation, the structure is symbiotic with the hills and vineyard that surround it. The architects called their underground design concept, The Quarry. ‘To represent the effort required to produce the wine made here, we created a series of spaces – not by construction, but by extraction from the hill’s monolithic mass. The diverse internal volumes, heights and levels are reminiscent of a gold mine as it follows seams of precious metal to the core,’ said Japanese-born architect Hikaru Mori.
Cast-in-place concrete was used for the winery’s architectural framework. Inside, clean lines of glass and steel predominate, balanced by rows of oak barrels. Textured and scored surfaces throughout are a reminder of the extractive construction process, while openings in the walls frame vertical profiles of the vineyard’s inimitable blue clay terroir.
At the very heart of the structure lies the Estate’s wine vault, Masseto Caveau. Bottles of every vintage since 1986 are preserved here, in perfect cellaring conditions, each suspended in its own stainless-steel mesh cradle. There could be no better physical manifestation of the Estate’s history.
The 2018 vintage is the first to be vinified in the Winery, by recently appointed cellar master, Eleonora Marconi.
Masseto, located on the Tuscan coast close to the small village of Bolgheri, is a wine that was never meant to exist. The potential of the slope where the vineyard now sits was finally seen in the 1980’s, when, against all odds, advice and local tradition, the first vines were planted. Intuition paid off. The blue clay, cooling coastal breezes and abundant refracted light from the Tyrrhenian Sea all contribute to Masseto’s intriguing combination of power, elegance and complexity. Masseto has received international acclaim since its birth in 1986.The Estate is controlled by the Frescobaldi Family Group.
Masseto takes a leading role in the Christie’s Auction in Hong Kong with Rare Library Releases and an exceptional ‘preview’ of Masseto 2015 in Hong Kong
The ‘Premier Preview Masseto 2015’ lots achieve an equivalent price of € 1,036 per 750ml bottle
Masseto, Italy’s most collectable estate, is proud to announce the results of the unique lots made available directly from the winery which were auctioned during Christie’s Fine and Rare Wine auction held in Hong Kong on May 26, 2018.
Considered one of the world’s greatest investment wines as rated by the Liv-Ex auction index, nineteen rare Masseto library release lots were offered to collectors directly from the Estate and achieved a grand total of €109,791 in sales, marking yet another crowning achievement for the storied wine.
Featuring rare bottlings (6 x 750ml) of Masseto from vintages 1995-2009, and large formats (Magnum, never-before-released Double Magnums, and extremely limited release Imperial bottles dating back to 1995), bidding was very animated, with collectors eager to secure these exceptional wines of provenance.
In addition, a notable highlight of the Christie’s auction was the world-exclusive ‘Premier Preview Masseto 2015’ section, offering collectors and ‘afficionados’ the opportunity to purchase the highly anticipated release of the 2015 vintage Masseto prior to its official release in Fall 2018. This vintage, considered to be among the most coveted wines ever produced by the Estate since its inaugural vintage in 1987, was offered in eight separate lots which included all bottle sizes produced (750ml, magnum, double magnum, and the extremely rare numbered Imperial bottle (5/80) and Nebuchadnezzar bottle (1/10). These lots achieved a grand total of €63,177, which translates into €1,036 per bottle equivalent.
Each lot of Masseto 2015 was offered in original wooden cases with metal plates bearing the text ‘Premier Preview Masseto 2015 – Christie’s Hong Kong – May 2018’ and included a special certificate of origin unique to the lot.
Axel Heinz, Masseto Estate Director and Winemaker remembers, “Vintage 2015 will go down in Masseto’s history as one of the great vintages. The almost textbook-like growing conditions produced a wine with a perfect balance between a mature, yet complex, aromatic expression of great freshness and a rare quality of ample, silky and smooth tannins. The dark and intense color is followed by a rich aroma with hints of fully ripe red fruit and spicy, balsamic and cocoa notes. In the mouth, it becomes sensual and rich, with great density and an ample and perfectly smooth tannin. The fruity notes are balanced by the spicy flavour of wood; its fresh and vivid final taste comes to a close with a hint of cocoa. Given the greatness of the vintage this is a wine which will go on developing over decades to come.”
As with regular bottlings of Masseto, each library release wine sold at the Christie’s Fine & Rare Wine auction on May 26, came equipped with the innovative Prooftag™ technology on the neck of each bottle, guaranteeing authenticity and provenance.
‘‘Christie’s are delighted with the strong results for the lots direct from Masseto with 100% of the lots offered selling and particularly the “Premier Preview Masseto 2015” allowing the lucky buyers to secure this fantastic vintage before general release for sale in the autumn. 6 bottles of Masseto 2015 were sold for HK$ 49,000 and a rare Nebuchadnezzar for HK$ 196,000. We sincerely thank the team at Masseto for the partnership for this special auction”.
Tim Triptree, Director and Senior Specialist, Christie’s
We are pleased to announce the appointment of Eleonora Marconi as the new winemaker of Masseto, under the supervision of Axel Heinz, Masseto Estate Director.
Eleonora discovered her passion for wine back in high school, when she trained as a sommelier. From there she began studying for a degree in oenology at the Polytechnic University of Marche in Ancona, Italy, which led to an internship at the famed Frescobaldi Castello di Nipozzano winery and then to a full timeposition as winemaker over a period of 6 years.
born in Italy to an Italian father and Australian mother, Eleonora has a meticulous and thorough approach to winemaking and a true appreciation and respect for terroir.
In addition to her work at Nipozzano in Italy, she has garnered international experience working in the vineyards of South Australia and France.
Also, she is part of a growing number of women who are making strides in the wine business – an industry once dominated by men.