Petrolo Galatrona 2018
• Domaine: Tenuta di Petrolo
• Appellation: Toscana IGT
• Classification: Tuscany, Italy
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
Merlot-lovers are sure to be beguiled by Petrolo Galatrona, one of the premiere expressions of this varietal from Italy. Italian Merlot is truly something to behold, with plenty of structure and nuance, coupled with intriguing herbal and balsamic characteristics. Petrolo Galatrona is an incredibly ageable wine and is sure to unfold beautifully for years to come if cellared properly. This stunning wine is composed of 100% estate-grown Merlot from the heart of Chianti, diligently crafted to perfection.
The Petrolo estate has a long and storied history that dates back to the Middle Ages. If one is fortunate enough to visit, they will notice a square watchtower that overlooks the grounds. Lucia Sanjust’s family purchased an estate in rural Tuscany called Petrolo in 1947, planting the first vines at the time. The majority of these vines were indigenous Sangiovese vines and the estate produced relatively simple Chianti called Il Torrione up until the late 20th Century. In the 1980s, Lucia and her son, Luca became passionate about Merlot during the Super Tuscan movement. Luca was a promising artist at the time, but he made the choice to run the family estate with his mother, as there were some very exciting changes being implemented within the Chianti district. They both witnessed neighboring estates planting international varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and vinifying them during that time.
Lucia and Luca noticed the potential of the small vineyard’s terroir and thought that Merlot would be the perfect choice for the property’s clay and loam soils. The initial idea was to blend Merlot in Il Torrione, but a happy accident in 1994 would encourage the Sanjust family to switch things up a bit. During the harvest that year, the family forgot about one small parcel of Merlot and ended up picking it late. Because they waited so long, they decided to vinify it separately, as they were unsure of what the ultimate quality would be. Interestingly enough, when critic James Suckling was tasting in the area, he convinced Lucia and Luca to begin bottling single varietal Merlot. The wine was named Galatrona after the estate’s square tower. Soon Galatrona would achieve meteoric success as Italy’s premiere single varietal Merlot.
This small, gently sloping 10-hectare vineyard has moisture and nutrient absorbing clay soil, which is perfect during drier years. The vineyard is considered a grand cru vineyard and is tended to with minimal intervention. This philosophy of letting nature do the majority of the work takes place both in the vineyard and the vat room, and the Sanjust family implements a variety of natural and Organic farming practices to ensure the grapes ripen to perfection. The wine undergoes spontaneous fermentation in the vat room prior to being aged in French Oak barriques.
Though Lucia tragically passed away in 2019, her son Luca continues the legacy at Petrolo Galatrona. Galatrona is one of the leading Italian wines to showcase Merlot and is often compared to some of the top Pomerols. A must-have for any collector.
"Tasted from barrel, the gorgeous 2018 Galatrona promises much beauty to come. Luca Sanjust says that this is the most Pomerol of the Merlot-based Galatronas he has created, and indeed, the wine boasts impeccable balance and depth. You get some of the balsam herb notes that I found in the 2017 vintage, although those are greatly downplayed here, giving more room to cherry and blackberry fruit instead. The 2018 vintage offers energy, freshness and tonic fruit. Underground water reserves were plentiful in 2018, and the fruit ripened slowly and harmoniously, creating textural richness and succulence.” - Monica Larner, The Wine Advocate, Ratings: 95-97
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