Petrolo

Val d'Arno di Sopra, Tuscany. Italy

Petrolo is a quintessential cult wine. Located in Mercatale Valdarno, in the center of the triangle made by Florence, Siena and Arezzo, the winery lies in a virtually unknown Tuscan appellation, the Valdarno di Sopra. There are no notable wine estates nearby, but with the romance and poetry that wine brings, Petrolo exemplifies a theme seen more and more in Tuscany: little pockets where extraordinary and singular wines can be made.

Petrolo is in fact singular in a very visible way: you arrive at the entrance and you start climbing. And climbing. You go up the hills, and at the top of the estate is a tower dating to the 12th century, still in pristine condition, built to serve as a lookout point for thirty miles all around. In the morning, while fogs cover the valley floor, Petrolo is perched in the sky, an island in a sea of clouds. The altitude, the galestro soils, the lakes on the property that moderate the temperature, and the biodiversity of the estate – only 76 of 672 acres are planted under vine – all contribute to this special mesoclimate.

The estate was bought by the Bazzocchi family in the 1940s, and since the mid 80s, it has been headed by Lucia Bazzocchi Sanjust with the assistance of her son Luca, who is now managing the winery. The technical agronomist is Carlo Nesterini, the oenologist is Simone Cuccoli and since June 2002, Carlo Ferrini has been collaborating on agricultural and vinification issues.

While Petrolo’s merlot wine, Galatrona, deservedly receives fireworks in the press and is part of the history of Tuscany’s development in the late 1980s and 1990s, Petrolo’s sangiovese wine, Torrione, is an equally thrilling success – a singular Sangiovese from a special area that long ago was left just oustide Chianti Classico, and today produces wine more often compared to great Brunello.

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 most highest-regarded Sangiovese wines in Tuscany. The Petrolo estate was acquired by the Bazzocchi family in the 1940’s and since the mid 1980’s 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.

In the last fifteen 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, and has a remarkable track record of producing some of the finest examples of these two very different, native and non-native varietals. While Galatrona deservedly receives fireworks in the press and is part of the history of Tuscany’s development 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 oustide Chianti Classico, and today produces wine of distinct regional identity.