Petrolo

Val d'Arno di Sopra, Tuscany. Italy

Petrolo is the definition of a cult winery, with an owner and a story that have helped create its legendary status. Though virtually unknown even in the wine world, the Valdarno di Sopra denomination dates back to the days of the Medici family during the Renaissance, and the area has always been renowned for the winemaking potential of the tiny area of Tuscany near Chianti in which it is located.

In more recent times, Petrolo was bought in the 1940s by Gastone Bazzocchi, who was the first person to begin cultivating high-quality Sangiovese-based wines at the estate, but it is his grandson, Luca Sanjust, who has brought the winery the cult status it enjoys today. An art scholar and successful painter in his own right, Luca decided to change paths in the early 1980s and has dedicated his time and passion to Petrolo ever since.

In the last fifteen years, Petrolo has established itself as one of Tuscany’s, and Italy’s, great wineries. The estate produces Torrione, a wine made predominantly from Sangiovese; Boggina, pure Sangiovese from a single vineyard; and Galatrona, a 100% Merlot that enjoys international renown among wine collectors and enthusiasts. Petrolo has a remarkable track record of producing some of the finest examples of these two very different native and non-native varieties. While Galatrona deservedly receives fireworks in the press and is part of the history of Tuscany’s quality revolution in the late 1980s and 1990s, Torrione and Boggina are an equally thrilling success – Sangiovese from a special area that long ago was left just outside Chianti Classico, and today produces wines of distinct regional identity.

 

Wines

Torrione

Val d'Arno di Sopra

Torrione is made primarily from Sangiovese grapes, both those that come from historic vines of the 1970s and ones more recently planted with high density. The yield per plant is notably restricted, allowing a concentration of all the noble components of the grape, fundamental for the full-bodied character of this wine. The fruit intensity and its black character make it a comparison to Brunello at several times the price.

Boggina C

Val d'Arno di Sopra

Boggina is bottled from the best barrels of Sangiovese produced each year from the Boggina hill, planted in the 1950’s by Luca’s grandfather. Bòggina is the oldest vineyard on the Petrolo estate, and the source of Petrolo’s most prized Sangiovese vines.

Boggina A

Val d'Arno di Sopra

Every year, Petrolo selects a small lot of Bòggina, a wine made purely from their best Sangiovese grapes, to ferment in amphorae. The choice of amphorae has a historical dimension to get closer to Tuscany's cultural roots, as Terracotta in Tuscany has a history back to the early Etruscan times. The remains of amphorae and other Etruscan relics can be found throughout the Petrolo property, an area that has been settled for thousands of years.

Galatrona

Val d'Arno di Sopra

Galatrona is a cru made entirely from Merlot grapes coming exclusively from a single vineyard planted in the early ‘90s. Year after year, it is recognized critically (the “Le Pin of Tuscany” by Wine Spectator, for example) but, more importantly, understood as being a reflection of its site far more than its grape varietal.

People

Luca Sanjust

A leading luminary among Italian vintners, Luca Sanjust is the man behind Galatrona, dubbed “the Pétrus of Italy,” and Torrione, one of the highest-regarded Sangiovese-based wines in Tuscany. The Petrolo estate was acquired by the Bazzocchi family in the 1940s and since the mid 1980s has been headed by Lucia Bazzocchi Sanjust with the assistance of her son Luca, who now manages the winery. Luca was an accomplished painter, recognized as one of the most promising young artists in Italy in the early 1980s, when he came back to run his family’s estate.

The following quote published in the early 2000s in Wine Spectator perfectly sums up Luca Sanjust's outlook on the path he has taken:

“An artist has to dedicate his whole being and 100 percent of his time to his art. I was faced with the question: Art or wine? I chose wine.”