Sunday, April 7, 2013

Italian Merlots: Fattoria Petrolo's Galatrona (Colli Aretini, Tuscany)

The 272-ha Petrolo estate is located in Bucine (province of Arezzo) and falls within Colli Aretini, one of the eight Chianti sub-regions (to include Chianti Classico), where its vineyards are strategically positioned along the slopes of the hills bordering the Chianti region.

Tuscan wine region map with Colli Aretini colored dark green

Originally part of the medieval fiefdom called Galatrona, the estate was bought by the Bazzocchi family in the 1940s and is currently owned by Lucia Bazzocchi Sanjust and managed by her son Luca. The lands are allocated to vineyards (31 ha, 26 of which is currently in production), olive groves (19 ha), and woods and arable land (222 ha).

The estate's 13 vineyards are distinct islands dotted across the property but with a concentration in the northern portion. Vineyard altitudes range between 250 and 450 meters and the soil is a layered mix of galestro (loose marl and limestone) and albarese (weathered sandstone). Vines are planted at densities of 5000/ha and yields are limited to 20 hl/ha.

Antonio Galloni (Wine Advocate, August 2009) stated, "Proprietor Luca Sanjust and his team craft some of the most beautiful wines in Tuscany at the equally picturesque Petrolo estate." That is no accident. The estate is focused on producing wines of the highest quality and that focus is reflected in its personnel as well as vitivinicultural practices. As regards personnel, the agronomist is Dr. Carlo Nesterini, the enologist is Dr Stefani Guidi, and the external consultant to both these gentlemen is the noted Dr. Carlo Ferrini. As it relates to viticulture, the winery conducts two green harvests: post-flowering and post-veraison. It is felt that this practice yields better wine balance.

In the winery, fermentation is carried-out in glass-lined, temperature-controlled, concrete vats. Grapes are fermented separately (vineyard, variety, condition) with each batch subjected to extended maceration (14 days) in order to achieve maximum extraction. The must is kept in contact with the cap via pump-overs.

After malolactic fermentation, the wine is racked off the lees for aging. They are aged in new French oak for 18 months, 6 of which are on fine lees. At the conclusion of the aging process, the wines are bottled and then returned to storage for an additional 6 months of aging.

Galatrona, the estate's 100% Merlot offering, was first brought to market in 1994 as a Tuscan IGT wine and has retained that classification ever since. The Merlot vines were first planted by Lucia in 1990 and today numbers 30,000. Annual Merlot production is 13,500 bottles.

The wine is well regarded and much heralded. It has been compared to Pomerol's Le Pin and Petrus and has been a consistent recipient of Gambero Rossi's Tre Bichieri award as well as being consistently assigned 90+ scores by Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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