Ornellaia and Masseto: A Tale Of Two Wines

Kerin O’Keefe delves into the background of the famed Italian wines Ornellaia and Masseto.
© Paolo Tenti | Individual vineyard samples are tasted before the blend for Ornellaia is decided

When Lodovico Antinori founded his estate in 1981 on land his mother had given him from her holdings in Bolgheri, he was confident that he was going to make quality Bordeaux-styled wines. This scion of the famed Tuscan winemaking family can hardly have realized, however, that he was on the path to creating two of Italy’s most celebrated labels: Ornellaia and Masseto.

Read the article: Ornellaia and Masseto: A Tale Of Two Wines

Rebels without a cause? The demise of Super-Tuscans

Once considered the future of Italian winemaking, Super-Tuscans might finally have run their course. Kerin O’Keefe considers the past, present, and future of these wines.

Super-Tuscans undoubtedly hailed a new era of winemaking in Italy. Rebels with a cause such as Sassicaia and Tignanello, originally labeled as table wines because they did not adhere to the winemaking laws of the time, shook up what were exasperatingly uninspiring practices and production codes. Ambitious producers across the region, armed with international varieties, brand-new barriques, and a fancy label sporting a proprietary fantasy name, began turning out their own Super-Tuscans and were soon followed by winemakers throughout Italy. But today, inundated with far cheaper but similar bottlings from the New World, consumers are apparently turning their backs on these once trailblazing wines.

Read the article:  “Rebels without a cause? The demise of Super-Tuscans (PDF). The World of Fine Wine (2009, 23): 94–99.

 

Read Eric’s take: Asimov, Eric (13 April 2009). Are Super-Tuscans Still Super?. The New York Times.

Fascinating article in the current issue of “The World of Fine Wine,’’ a glossy, erudite and, alas, very expensive British wine quarterly that always has many things worth reading. This article, by Kerin O’Keefe, a wine writer based in Italy, suggests that the Super-Tuscan category, which has attracted so much attention in the last 35 years, may have run its course.

Frescobaldi now in full control of Ornellaia

Tuscan producer Frescobaldi has bought the remaining 50% shares of Ornellaia from Constellation and now owns the elite Bolgheri estate outright.

Frescobaldi logoAs reported on decanter.com last December Frescobaldi had been eyeing a complete takeover since wine giant Constellation bought the Robert Mondavi Corporation. Mondavi had been partners with the Frescobaldi family in two Italian joint ventures, Luce della Vite and Ornellaia. Frescobaldi took control of Luce in early March of this year although Constellation was more reluctant to part with the higher-end Ornellaia, one of the jewels of the Italian wine scene, and whose wine, Masseto, is one of the most-sought after around the world.

Frescobaldi exercised the ‘option to buy clause’ in the original contract between the two companies which stated that if either party sold its share of the wine, the other would have the option to take full control.

Read the article: Frescobaldi now in full control of Ornellaia