Masseto is a rare, single vineyard wine made entirely from Merlot grapes grown on the vineyard bearing the same name. Located in the vaunted Bolgheri region of Tuscany, Masseto was first released in 1986 and quickly gained a reputation as one of the world's most sought after and extremely allocated wines.
Where the Masseto vineyard now stands, there was once a coastal marsh centuries ago, over which clay deposits formed. The clay was covered by thick deposits of gravel, sand and rock fragments. This geologically diverse terroir is one reason Merlot thrives in the Masseto vineyard. Another contributor is the combination of Mediterranean sun and a gentle wind that keeps the temperatures moderate during the summer. Among the first people to realize the potential of the great terroir of the Masseto hill was the great Russian-American oenologist, André Tchelistcheff, who contributed to the conception of Masseto in the early 1980s. His vision is shared by the vineyard and winemaking staff who pay the utmost attention to every detail in the vineyard and winery.
The Masseto vineyard is divided into three parts. At the top of the Masseto hill, at an elevation of about 120 meters above sea level, the soils consist of loose clay and sand with many pebbles, which bless the wine with a marked elegance. This is the area defined as "Masseto Alto". "Masseto Centrale" is the central part of the Masseto vineyard and 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 of "Masseto Junior" grow on less clayey soils, giving the wine its breadth, softness and generosity. Such a complex mosaic will naturally reflect in the wine by displaying great complexity.
From the beginning of the harvest to the release of Masseto, three intense years pass, marked by respect of nature and time, constant attention to detail and careful winemaking decisions that best express and respect Masseto's character. The grapes are hand-picked during early morning hours and undergo a double selection before and after destemming. Virtually each single berry is carefully controlled as it progresses slowly on the inspection conveyor and is discarded if not perfect. The fermentation takes place in state-of-the-art stainless steel tanks, which allow perfect temperature control. During this phase, the fermentation progress of each single tank, representing a given vineyard block, is methodically followed by daily individual tastings. Numerous base wines are then aged in French oak barriques before the final blend is created. The objective for winemaker Axel Heinz is to express both the unmistakable personality of Masseto and the specific character of the vintage.