For knowledgeable red wine lovers, truly good Merlot is difficult to obtain. Most of what is available is not made from 100% merlot grapes or the quality is not up to par. The most well known Merlots come from France and California, but have you ever had a true (100%) Merlot from Italy? Italian Merlots are exceptional, but rarely produced and difficult to procure stateside. They are softer, silkier, and more balanced than their oak heavy counterparts. In one word, the wine is stunning!
Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, near the town of Bolgheri in Turscany, is one of the few vineyards that produces it exceptionally, making it one of the most important wineries in the world. To add to its top quality status, the grapes are always hand harvested. Masseto, as it’s referred to in this particular area, is a rare and exclusive Cru made entirely from Merlot grapes. It has been hailed by many as a “cult wine”.
Wine Watch, a wine boutique in Fort Lauderdale, recently acquired limited quantities of rare vintages from the estate. They are for sale now and ready to drink. Additionally, for those that enjoy aging wines in their cellar, newer vintages are available in single bottles or crates.
The “hot” list with tasting notes from Wine Watch:
1986 Ornellaia Masseto
The price on this wine would signify that this is the very first vintage of Masseto and it is. Who would have thought that the first release of this wine would be selling for such a big price tag today? This wine will be worth exponentially more 10 years from now when there are even fewer bottles of this rare wine available in excellent condition.
1987 Ornellaia Masseto
The second vintage is not as important in price but to the collector this is essential in the order of the collection. This is one of the few collections that I would highly recommend that the purchaser buy in its entirety if possible as the providence is the work of one of the most passionate collectors of Italian wines in South Florida.
1988 Ornellaia Masseto
(90 Points) Round and velvety, offering plenty of fruit. Deep, dark ruby in color, with super aromas of blackberries, cassis and mint. Full-bodied and overflowing with blackberry and cassis flavors. Has full, velvety tannins and a long, minty finish. Made from Merlot. – Wine Spectator Issue: Sep 15, 1991
1989 Ornellaia Masseto
(88 Points) Pleasant and fresh, with black olive and berry aromas and flavors, almost tobacco-like. It’s medium-bodied, with soft tannins and a light finish. This was a difficult vintage with lots of rain, but the wine is better than I remember. – JS Wine Spectator Issue: Oct 31, 2004
1990 Ornellaia Masseto
(90 Points) This has always been a beautifully elegant wine, offering wonderful aromas and flavors of currants, berries and earth. It’s medium- to full-bodied, with refined tannins. – JS Wine Spectator Issue: Oct 31, 2004
1992 Ornellaia Masseto
(93 Points) Better than the 1990 or 1991 Masseto. Deep and profound Merlot exhibiting intense berry, mint and cassis aromas and flavors. Full-bodied but very elegant and refined; wonderful silky tannins and succulent finish. – Wine Spectator Issue: Feb 28, 1995
Wine Watch is located at 901 Progresso Road in Fort Lauderdale. You can reach them at 954.523.9463 or visit their website
. You can also visit the Tenuto dell’Ornellaia estate in Italy, arrangements can be made through their website