Masseto saw its beginnings in the early 1980s, when Andre Tchelistcheff, the acclaimed Russian-American enologist, was consulting with Ludovico Antinori, then Ornellaia’s owner. He noticed that one 11-acre portion of Ornellaia’s holdings had different soils from the rest of the estate. Here on this hill, the soils were clayey, with thick, hard clumps — masso, in Italian. It was exactly the kind of soil that Merlot preferred, so Tchelistcheff planted the grape, and with the 1986 vintage, Masseto was born. Caressed by sea breezes and kissed by Tuscan sunshine, the vineyard plantings on Masseto Hill have expanded to 27 acres, divided into three sections, each with its own characteristics: Masseto Junior offers the rich bass notes; Masseto Medio provides structure; and Masseto Alto the characteristic perfume. Winemaker Axel Heinz and his team painstakingly hand-pick and hand-sort Masseto’s grapes, vinifying them by grape lot in specially constructed cement tanks whose interior resembles a tulip, for gentle extractions; gravity feeds the wine to the aging barriques, which sit deep within clay caves on Masseto Hill. With the 2017 vintage, Masseto added a second wine, Massetino, destined to become almost as collectible as its sibling, and with the 2019 vintage, both wines added a small Cabernet Franc component.