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Ornellaia Masseto 2011

Merlot from Tuscany, Italy
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0% ABV
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  • WE100
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  • JS100
  • WS100
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Winemaker Notes

With the 2011 vintage, Masseto returns to a typically Mediterranean expression of a warm year in the Bolgheri terroir. Yet the overall impression is one of superb balance and measure, notwithstanding the wine's rich concentration and ripeness. A near-opaque color greeks the eye, followed by explosive aromas of gloriously-ripe wild red berry fruit cosseted by hints of toasty oak and dark chocolate, but easily avoiding any hint of hamminess. A full-volumed palate impresses with its deep concentration and opulence, displaying remarkably supple, glossy tannins. Masseto 2011 concludes with a cleanly-defined vein of crisp acidity infused with the fruit and spice encountered on the nose.

Critical Acclaim

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JS 100
James Suckling
Wow. Fabulous aromas of currants, rosemary, mint and orange peel. Perfect nose. Full body with perfectly integrated tannins. It's long and incredible with tangerine, toasted-oak, berry, terracotta and chocolate flavors. It lasts for minutes on the palate. This needs at least five years to soften but so spellbinding now.
WS 97
Wine Spectator
Opulent and expressive, opening with coffee and vanilla aromas that lead to sweet plum and black cherry flavors. Leather, tobacco and iron notes contribute to the complexity. Lingers with a powerful, structured finish.
RP 95
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
From Italy’s most celebrated 7-hectare plot of Merlot, the 2011 Masseto is a wine of grand and lofty ambitions that happily materialize in the glass. This wine delivers on all the many promises it makes. First is the exceptional quality of the bouquet with seamless integration of dark fruit to spice, to chocolate, to Mediterranean herb. The aromas are presented in kaleidoscope effect so that many bright colors blend into one. Second, is the mouthfeel that is as supple, rich and persistent as you should expect of a wine of this pedigree. Lastly, is the wine’s aging potential that is already evident in terms of the integrated acidity and the richness of the tannins. In fact, the tannins are absolutely gorgeous here: They are silky, refined and delightful.
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Ornellaia

Ornellaia

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Ornellaia, Tuscany, Italy
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In 1981, Marchese Lodovico Antinori breathed new life into Tenuta dell' Ornellaia, an estate whose potential had been ignored for decades. With the help of Andre Tchelistcheff, the famous agronomist, Antinori planted the first French vines in Bolgheri, which lies in the heart of Tuscany's coastal region, Maremma. The estate yields some of the finest Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc in Tuscany. In 2002, Marchesi de' Frescobaldi and Robert Mondavi became owners of Tenuta dell'Ornellaia, which is now owned exclusively by Marchesi de' Frescobaldi.

One of the most iconic Italian regions for wine, scenery and history, Tuscany is the world’s most important outpost for the Sangiovese grape. Ranging in style from fruity and simple to complex and age-worthy, Sangiovese makes up a significant percentage of plantings here, with the white Trebbiano Toscano coming in second.

Within Tuscany, many esteemed wines have their own respective sub-zones, including Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The climate is Mediterranean and the topography consists mostly of picturesque rolling hills, scattered with vineyards.

Sangiovese at its simplest produces straightforward pizza-friendly wines with bright and juicy red fruit, but at its best it shows remarkable complexity and ageability. Top-quality Sangiovese-based wines can be expressive of a range of characteristics such as sour cherry, balsamic, dried herbs, leather, fresh earth, dried flowers, anise and tobacco. Brunello expresses well the particularities of vintage variations and is thus popular among collectors. Chianti is associated with tangy and food-friendly dry wines at various price points. A more recent phenomenon as of the 1970s is the “Super Tuscan”—a wine made from international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, with or without Sangiovese. These are common in Tuscany’s coastal regions like Bolgheri, Val di Cornia, Carmignano and the island of Elba.

An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. But the grape also has enough stuffing to make serious, world-renowned wines. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, in St. Emilion and Pomerol, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc. On the Left Bank in the Medoc, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.

In the Glass

Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.

Perfect Pairings

Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.

Sommelier Secret

Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot with Cabernet Franc.

AMR17909_2011 Item# 135485