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May 22, 2014

Petrolo Galatrona 2011 Release

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James Suckling has awarded Petrolo Galatrona 2011 an incredible 99 points, its highest ever score, making the 2011 possibly its greatest ever wine. Critics agree that 2011 Super Tuscan vintage had the potential to be truely great especially among 100% Merlot based wines. Suckling has released his scores for Masseto, awarding it a perfect 100 points and Tua Rita Redigaffi 99 points. Masseto will probably release at around £300 a bottle and we have already sold out of Redigaffi 2011 at £650 for six bottle cases. In 2011 Galatrona has outscored four of the five leading Super Tuscans, all of which – excluding Tignanello – are at least double the price – £50 a bottle for a 99 points wine is compelling indeed.

Wines made from predominantly Merlot are globally extremely popular; Pomerol is notoriously expensive, as is Masseto and the market is searching for this vibrant and powerful style of wine at reasonable prices. Petrolo Galatrona is a famous Super Tuscan, made entirely from Merlot in a French style, producing its first vintage in 1994. It began to gain momentum in 1997 and as such it has large potential for growth over the next five years. Galatrona displays the tell-tale Merlot ripeness and silkiness, combining a smooth mouthfeel with great complexity. In its youth plum, black cherry, tar, cigar box, smoke and liquorice burst from the glass. As it ages it takes on notes of chocolate, leather, jam, mocha and espresso. We are huge fans of this wine not least because of its great concentration and symmetry.

Background and winemaking
The vineyard is found in the region of Colli Aretini, where the Aretini hills encircle Monti Chianti, an area declared as treasurable for its wine and olive oil by the Archduke of Tuscany in 1716. The Petrolo Estate is found on an ancient fiefdom and the Galatrona tower is built on Roman ruins that remain today; this is where the name of Torrione, their other critically acclaimed wine comes from. The quality of the terroir has been recognised and protected for centuries.

In the 1940s the Bazzocchi family bought the Estate and since the 80s the family have focused on producing a world famous wine of uncompromising quality. They produce only 13,000 bottles a year, a production more akin to Burgundy than Tuscany. They rigorously restrict the yields, forcing the grapes complete maturation and ensuring extremely concentrated levels of anthocyans, which translates to Petrus like tannin ripeness. They macerate for 14 days, after malolactic fermentation they spare no expense by then transferring the wine to new French barrique (225 litres) for 18 months. With such low production, less than 1,100 cases made per year, Petrolo Galatrona has to be considered as one of the greatest wines of Italy, yet hard to source.

Galatrona increases in value quickly in bottle and it pays to secure cases on release. The 95 point scoring 2008 already costs £550 per six bottle case.

Vintage James Suckling Price
2011 99 £295
2010 95 £260
2009 97 £420
2008 95 £550
2007 98 £465

It is rare indeed to find a 100% Merlot wine of this quality at this price point, obviously under-priced in the market and set to ride on Masseto’ s coattails over the coming years.

Petrolo Galatrona 2011, 6×75 – £295 IB or £368.76 including duty and VAT
James Suckling, 99 points
This is a phenomenal pure merlot with blueberries, raspberries and hints of milk chocolate. Some nutmeg, too. Full body with very fine yet chewy tannins and a long, intense finish. Reminds me of the amazing 1998. Best ever from here. Needs four or five years of bottle age to soften. 

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