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Frescobaldi group to build Masseto winery

Italian wine group Marchesi de' Frescobaldi plans to build a standalone winery for its Masseto Super Tuscan wine and is interested in moving into Chianti Classico.

Group chief executive Giovanni Geddes de la Filicaja told decanter.com that the family-owned firm is keen to increase the sense of separation between Masseto and its sister wine Ornellaia.

Masseto is officially the second wine of Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, but it commonly sells for a higher price than the estate’s namesake label and has been sold via the Place de Bordeaux since 2009.

‘Certainly we will build a winery for Masseto,’ said Geddes de la Filicaja. ‘We’ll probably start building early next year,’ he said, on the fringes of an event to mark the launch of artist Rodney Graham’s bespoke label designs for the Ornellaia 2011 vintage.

Masseto was the top selling Italian wine by value at Sotheby’s last year, fetching an average price of around $600-a-bottle, according to the auction house’s Europe wine director, Stephen Mould.

‘I think the prices can continue rising,’ said Geddes de la Filicaja. ‘It is still far from the prices of Petrus, for example’ he said. As a Merlot, Masseto lends itself to comparisons with Bordeaux’s Right Bank.

When questioned on future plans to expand the Frescobaldi wine empire, he said that Chianti Classico is an obvious gap in the portfolio.

‘It’s an area that we would like to go into, but we would be looking at an existing brand,’ he said. ‘Chianti Classico has value only if there is a strong brand.’

Fine wine market observers point out that top Italian wines are often relatively cheap versus their counterparts in the key French regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Geddes de la Filicaja, who previously represented Krug Champagne in Italy and spent 12 years as chief executive of Antinori wine group, said it takes time.

‘Luxury is not something that has usually been found in Italian wine. Most of the big families come from agricultural backgrounds, not marketing.’

Written by Chris Mercer

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