Tenuta dell’Ornellaia is to offer its Masseto wine through the Place de Bordeaux.

It is the first Italian wine to be sold through this marketplace – traditionally the preserve of classified growths and a small number of foreign icon wines.

The 2006 vintage of Masseto, a 100% Merlot wine from a single seven hectare vineyard in Bolgheri, will be released in October 2009. Five Bordeaux négociants will have access to about 6000 bottles – 20% of the total global allocation.

“We decided to do this to help raise the global profile of Masseto,” Giovanni Geddes, chief executive officer of Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, told decanter.com.

“Historically, we’ve sold the wine through importers in about 50 countries. They each get a small allocation – 240, 360 bottles – and sell it immediately, to the same people each year. The Place sells to over 100 countries, which will give many more potential consumers a chance to buy our wine.”

Geddes said the move was particularly significant because Masseto is “the first wine with no specific Bordeaux ties” to be accepted for sale through the négociant marketplace. Other foreign wines on offer include Almaviva (Chile) and Opus One (California), both owned by Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA.

“Also, as one of the great wines of the world, Masseto should be sold alongside the other great wines of the world,” said Geddes.

Geddes said he anticipates some discontent among Masseto’s importers, whose allocations would be reduced by 20%.

“They’re probably not going to be happy because they can usually sell their entire allocation at a very high price. But they will understand our rationale.”

The 2005 vintage of Masseto – the most recent one available – is currently on offer for £251 ($376) a bottle from UK merchant Fine and Rare Wines. This was the first vintage produced under the ownership of Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi, which bought Ornellaia from Constellation Brands.

Written by Maggie Rosen