About the Producer: 
Lodovico Antinori sold his shares in the ancestral Marchesi Antinori wine house in the early 1980s and set out on his own at Ornellaia to pursue a vision of winemaking that he describes as global. He acquired the upper part of the family’s Belvedere estate at Bolgheri near Tuscany’s Mediterranean coast and created an avant-garde winery next door to Tenuta San Guido, home of the legendary Sassicaia. His mentor was Andre Tchelistcheff, the pioneer of premium California red wines, who designed state-of-the-art cellars that looked as if they had been lifter from the Napa Valley. Lodovico, a free-spirited nobleman an world traveler, vowed that his aim was not to duplicate Sassicaia (a pure Cabernet), but to make modern red wines of great stature without the sharp edges of the classic reds of Tuscany or Bordeaux. On Tchelistcheff’s advice, he planted Merlot to be blended at about 20 percent with Cabernet Sauvignon in the estate’s top wine called Ornellaia. But Lodovico soon realized that the Merlot from the Massesto vineyard outshone the Cabernet. From the 19878 vintage he bottles it as a pure varietal called Masseto, creating a wine that has been described as the Tuscan answer to Pomerol. Its success is due in part to the fact that he hired a special adviser Michel Rolland, Bordeaux’s Merlot wizard, who has the vineyard grafted over with clones from Pomerol. But Lodovico, who insists that Masseto expresses the genius loci of Ornellaia, promises even better things as vines mature. He continues to make Ornellaia (from Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot) and a white wine from Sauvignon Blanc called Poggio alle Gazze. The estate, which has about 60 hectares of vineyards, produced about 500,000 bottles a year, including the red Le Volte (from Sangiovese with Cabernet and Merlot). Lodovico Antinori recently renewed his California connections when he agreed to let the Robert Mandavi Winery acquire shares in Ornellaia and participate in its management.