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Masseto Vineyard

Masseto Junior

“Masseto Junior is the lowest section of the vineyard with clay-sand soils. Its wines are the lightest but they are very precious for smoothing out the tannic roughness in the other wines and contribute substantially to the delicacy of the complete wine.”

Masseto Centrale

“Masseto Centrale, the central area of the vineyard, has the highest percentage of Pliocene clays. This terroir’s “signature “constitutes the most impressive section of the vineyard giving Masseto its very soul and backbone. It yields powerful and concentrated wines with imposing tannic structures.”

Masseto Alto

“The upper part of the vineyard, Masseto Alto, has shallower soils which are sandy and quite rocky. Its grapes are often the first to be picked, particularly in warmer vintages. Its wines are dense, rather “linear”, but not really opulent.”

Hectares (Ha): 6,63
Planting variety: Merlot
Planting density: 3,00x0,85
Planting year: 1984
Cultivation system: spurred cordon
Soil type: thin silty clay and breccias

The Force of Nature

Nature is, obviously, the first creator of Masseto. It was thanks to events which happened millions of years ago that the soil of this hill as such unique characteristics. Where the Masseto vineyard now stands, there was once a coastal marsh, over which clayey deposits formed over the centuries, interlaying with “marine“ invasions that increased the salinity of the substrate. Indeed, in the epochs that followed, the clays were overlain by thick deposits derived from the erosion of the hills, which were then mountains, and in some cases volcanoes. These deposits comprised gravels, sands, and various kinds of clays and rock fragments. Shocks of the most violent kind known, earthquakes, folded the layers in the ground, and one of these folds uplifted the Pliocene clays, bringing them to the surface.

When warmth and freshness marvelously combine

Masseto vineyard enjoys a particular climate. The Mediterranean sun shines over the vines throughout the year while a gentle wind keeps the temperatures moderate during the summer. The fresh soils, together with the mild, generous climate, prevent the vines from suffering in dry conditions, and allow the grapes to ripen gradually. Though unusual for Merlot, these climate conditions will indeed contribute to granting Masseto its enchanting combination of ripeness and freshness.

The birth of Masseto

Why plant a vineyard on the Masseto Hill? Among the first people to realize the potential of the great terroir of the Masseto hill was the great Russian- American enologist, Andrè Thcelicheff, a man of great experience who contributed to the conception of Masseto in the early 1980s. Andrè Thcelicheff was a visionaire, combining knowledge and inspiration. He loved Merlot and immediately felt that Masseto Hill would, thanks to its characteristic terroir and unusual climate conditions, be a dream place for Merlot to express its beauty. Following his precious advise, the team at Masseto planted the vineyard and committed themselves to make, over the years, the dream come true.

The complexity of the Masseto Terroir

At the top of the Masseto hill, at an elevation of about 120 meters above sea level, the soils consist of loose clays and sand with many pebbles, which bless the wine with a marked elegance. This is the area definined as “Masseto Alto”. “Masseto Centrale” is the central part of the Masseto vineyard, which determines 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 grow on less clayey soils, giving the wine its breadth, softness, and generosity. This final area is called “Masseto Junior”. Within each of these three zones there are smaller areas that ripen differently and therefore require to be harvested at different times. Such a complex mosaic will naturally reflect in the wine by displaying great complexity and revealing multi-facet dimension.

The Importance of the clays in the Masseto Terrain

The mineral structure of the clays on the Masseto hill allows them to absorb and store at least their weight in water. A clayey terrain is therefore always cool. The ground must however be worked constantly, particularly in the summer, to obtain the ideal combination of factors the vines require: sun for the leaves, and water for the roots. Thus the grapes grow gradually, without stress, and with perfect ripening of the polyphenols under the best possible conditions.

The layout of the rows in the Masseto vineyard

The layout of the vineyard rows is of vital importance. In the Masseto vineyard the rows are planted perpendicular to the direction of maximum slope in order to allow the water from the summer rains to penetrate slowly into the soil, rather than run off violently. The vines are pruned according to the monolateral cordon spur system, with the number of buds and yield varying considerably according to the vigor of the individual vines. Their development is further supported by the field hands, who prune 5-10% of the production to help the vines reach their optimum equilibrium.
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