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Masseto teams up with Sotheby’s for first Caveau release

Sotheby’s and Super-Tuscan producer Masseto are to offer the very first bottles to be released directly from the Masseto Caveau, the estate’s steel cellar situated deep beneath the vineyard, comprising a number of sought-after back-vintages.

Masseto is teaming up with Sotheby’s for the first Caveau release

The auction will present an extremely limited number of bottles in varying formats directly from the Masseto Caveau – the most secret space in the winery’s cellar carved deep beneath the vineyard of the same name.

Masseto, The Caveau Release comprises vintages spanning three decades, including 35 cases containing the 2006, 2010 and 2011 vintages, as well as magnums, double magnums, imperials and a single nebuchadnezzar. The 46 lots – an offering of 132 bottles in total – carry a combined estimate in the region of €200.000. The Masseto estate will also extend an invitation to the winning bidders to host them at the winery by the end of 2024.

Speaking to db at a recent visit, estate director Axel Heinz, who db revealed yesterday would be stepping down in order to pursue new challenges in France, described it as a “fascinating discovery” every time  an older vintage of Masseto is uncorked.

“Each time we take a sip, we learn something new,” he said. “How the wines we have brought up with patience and care, evolve. How they change. How each individual vintage expresses its unmistakable Masseto character, but with a slightly different interpretation – just as a masterpiece of music will sound differently according to the artist who plays it. A discovery that gives way to pure emotion in that special moment every wine lover is seeking.”

Masseto may be Italy’s most famous Merlot producer but it is actually the name of a vineyard and a wine estate: “Merlot is only a part of the terroir definition of Masseto”, Heinz explained.

It all started in the early 1980s when the first vines were planted, contrary to all predictions, advice and local tradition. The intuition paid off. The potential of the slope where the vineyard stands on the Tuscan coast was sensed; the blue clay, cool coastal breezes and excellent refraction of light guaranteed by the Tyrrenian Sea contribute to the intriguing mix of power, elegance and complexity that distinguishes this Tuscan red.

Masseto barrique room, picture credit: Sotheby’s

The estate philosophy has been focusing more and more towards a natural driven and minimal intervention in the vineyard. The result is a wine, born out of a small patch of the million-year-old blue Pliocene clay soil, showing a combination of voluptuousness, depth and a delightful combination of Tuscan rural elegance with Mediterranean herbs, blue berries chocolate, leather and gun flint. It’s a Merlot but with a massive tannic structure and opulence: “Masseto is about excess. It has always been a deliberate choice to let this variety speak its place of boring” carries on Axel.

And yes, this wine has got a lot of power but its kaleidoscopic perfumes, its velvet touch and aging potential made Masseto gain a unique place in the pantheon of collectible wines.

To get to the cave one must walk through the blue clay corridor towards 12 tulip shaped and sharply faceted cement 65 hl vats: this is where, during harvest, the Merlot waits for the indigenous yeast fermentations to kick off. Then the free run juicy goes for a couple of years into different provenance new French barriques located one flower below. This futuristic architectural cellar designed by Hikaru Mori & Maurizio Zito Studio was built to hold, hidden by a wall disguised door, the inventory of the old bottles, starting with the first ever vintage: the 1986. It is in this stunningly designed location that bottles of every Masseto vintage rest in perfect conditions, each protected in its very own steel cradle.

picture credit: Sotheby’s

Amayès Aouli, Sotheby’s head of wine, Europe, said it was a great honour to work with the incredible team at Masseto to offer the very first bottles to be released from the new winery’s Caveau

“This auction is small, due to the limited size of production, but perfectly proportioned. It provides collectors with the opportunity to purchase, open and enjoy bottles, from seven different vintages, that come solely and directly from the Caveau. Each bottle has been elegantly dressed – providing evidence of the unique Caveau provenance – and comes in a beautiful presentation case which has been handcrafted in Bolgheri. The sale provides a dream scenario for wine lovers: mature vintages of one of the world’s greatest wines, with its own totally unique personality.”

All the bottles from the Masseto Caveau will be presented in oak cases handcrafted by an artisan in Bolgheri, which are numbered and contain a certificate of origin signed by Axel Heinz, Estate Director. Furthermore, every bottle comes with a Prooftag®, attesting to the wine’s authenticity. This includes the date when the bottle left the Caveau, stated on the front label: April 2023. In addition, Caveau is featured on every capsule as well as on the seals of guarantee that close the wooden cases – a singular confirmation of watertight provenance.

Bidding opens on 12 April, and will run until 27 April.

Highlights of the sale 

  • Masseto 2010, 1 Nebuchadnezzar (est. €18,000-26,000)
  • Masseto 2000, 1 Imperial (est. €6,000-8,500)
  • Masseto 2001, 1 Imperial est. €7,500-11,000)
  • Masseto 2006, 1 Imperial est. €7,000-10,000)
  • Masseto 2010, 1 Imperial est. €8,000-10,000)
  • Masseto 2011, 1 Imperial (est. €6,500-8,500)
  • Masseto 2016, 1 Imperial (est. €6,000-8,000)
  • Masseto, 1 Double Magnum, in a range of vintages spanning 1996 to 2011 (estimates ranging from €2,500 upwards to €5,000).
  • Masseto, 3 Magnum vertical in the 2006, 2010 and 2011 vintages (est. €4,500-6,000 per lot)
  • Six-bottle double offerings of a three-bottle vertical of the 2006, 2010 and 2011 vintages (est. €4,000-5,500 per lot)
  • Individual offerings of a three-bottle vertical of the 2006, 2010 and 2011 vintages (est. €1,800-2,600 per lot)

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