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The other great Tuscan Merlot - a rare parcel of ready to drink 2010 Galatrona.

September 2020 

Seeing the release this week of 2018 Galatrona prompted me to finally put this offer out – an offer of the impressive 2010 vintage at a much lower price, offered here at £310 per 6 bottle case in bond. I have tasted this Tuscan Merlot on a number of occasions and in a variety of vintages…it always impresses with its ability to age and to rival greater, more established names in the Tuscan hierarchy.
 
Mention Tuscan Merlot and clients rapidly identify Masseto as the pinnacle. Others may mention Redigaffi from Tua Rita, or even Messorio from Le Macchiole…but somehow, Galatrona goes under the radar. I think the owners are aware of this, as despite how well Galatrona performs in comparative tastings, the others tend to trade at much loftier levels. Not only has this week’s release of 2018 Galatrona come out at a higher price (a recommended selling price of £420 per 6 bottle case in bond was suggested), it has been distributed by the network of Bordeaux négociants for the first time, now released in much the same way as Masseto has been for a number of years. In fact, both were released in the same week this year…surely a signal of the estate’s intent?
 
To illustrate the gulf in price, consider the following. I thought it would be interesting to compare Liv-ex market prices for vintages 2016 to 2010 inclusive, and also to show the most recent rating from vinous.com for each of the vintages listed. Please note all prices shown are per six bottle case in bond. I make no excuses for the crude averages below as they surely show Galatrona to be the most undervalued.
  
                 Galatrona                Redigaffi                    Messorio                      Masseto
Vintage    Price  Points         Price   Points             Price   Points              Price     Points

2016        £322       94            £810        97                 £650       97                £3,200      94-97
2015        £325       95            £840        95                 £625       96                £2,936         99
2014        £347     93.5           £600        91                 £510       93                £2,300        93.5
2013        £330       91            £680        94                 £820       97                £2,616         97
2012        £320       93            £610      92.5                £684       96                £2,350         97
2011        £270       95            £660      95.5                £536       96                £2,550         94
2010        £340     94.5           £825       96                  £570       96                £3,000       98.5
Averages £322    93.7          £718      94.4                 £628     95.9               £2,707       96.4 
 
A word on Tuscan Merlot…
 
I read that Merlot was the fifth most planted grape variety in Italy. I expect that to take some people by surprise as it is not necessarily a natural association. Perhaps it is compounded by the fact that many of Italy’s top Merlot are not varietally labelled and therefore the composition of the wine is masked by its name. You find Merlot in Tuscany, but also in Friuli, Alto Adige and the Veneto, not to mention further south in Umbria, Campania and even Sicily. Tuscany is home to a number of great Merlot and not just the four above. These wines are centred in Bolgheri and Suvereto (though Merlot is also well-represented in the Chianti Classico DOC in the provinces of Florence and Siena). Conditions vary dramatically between these two Tuscan regions and that is before we consider differences in winemaking. Both locations provide clay-based soils with other components that are well-suited to Merlot.
 
A little about the estate…
 
Petrolo is situated on the eastern flank of the Chianti hills, a historical area delimited in 1716 by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III de' Medici, as one of Tuscany's top four wine producing zones. The Val d'Arno, where Petrolo is situated, was recognised as 'DOC Val d'Arno di Sopra' in 2011. The property is extensive and stretches over 272 hectares, of which only 31 are vineyards, situated between 250 - 450 metres above sea level. The estate has now converted to organic viticulture and includes 19 hectares of organically grown olive groves. The rest of the estate is arable land and woods.
 
Galatrona, which was first released in 1994, accounts for ten hectares of vineyard that was planted through the early 1990s with low vigour Bordeaux clones of Merlot. The vineyard is situated at an altitude of 300 metres on soils that comprise clay with shale, marl and sandstone. Merlot’s affinity with clay soils is well-documented – these soils help with moisture retention in the hot Tuscan summers. As winemaker Luca Sanjust has commented, today he has no need to prune heavily and thin the grapes as the vine age is such that the vines have achieved a natural balance and intervention is only required in certain years.
 
What has always impressed me with Galatrona is the consistency – I can barely recall a disappointing year. It is less overt than some Merlot – Galatrona is a softly extracted style of wine and you quickly note that Luca Sanjust looks for elegance as well as intensity. The wine is aged in French oak barriques for 18 months, but the proportion of new oak is not excessive at just a third. 2010 is easily one of my preferred vintages – it was a classic Tuscan vintage, but crucially there was no water stress in the vineyard and the fruit matured gradually and evenly. I think it suits the style of Galatrona well, as above all 2010 retained freshness and poise. I find a more lifted perfumed quality in the 2010 than I do in some other vintages and it has really started to hit its stride with superb depth of ripe blackberry and damson fruit, silkily presented with complex spice and foresty notes just starting to show. This vintage showcases Galatrona’s structure – this wine remains focused with a mineral persistence; simply put it doesn’t lose its shape as some Merlot from less than ideal terroir can. It is a classy wine indeed, and one deserving of more attention.
 
I am really pleased to have been able to buy a parcel of impeccable stock of the 2010 vintage, which has been stored in the UK for the last seven years. I am even more pleased to offer a vintage that can be broached now at substantially less than the current release despite its maturity. The 2018 has been released at £420 per 6 in bond – and I have nothing against that positioning in the market, but I can offer the 2010 at £310 per 6 bottle case in bond - £30 per case cheaper than Liv-ex’s estimation of market price. If you aren’t familiar with Galatrona, then this is a great opportunity to access a vintage that is ready for drinking.

2010 Galatrona, Petrolo 
£310 per 6 bottle case in bond
94+ Ian d’Agata, vinous.com (tasted in September 2016)

Very complex and perfumed aromas of black cherry, violet, black tea and minerals. Also complex and perfumed on the palate, with savory blackberry, black pepper and spice flavors showing multilayered depth and a bright mineral overlay. Finishes bright and long, with a fine dusting of noble tannins and a lovely light touch. A lighter styled Galatrona, but a knockout wine. Drink 2018-2028.
 
Please let us know of your interest. Available for immediate delivery.
 
All the best,
 
Simon


To request a wine, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Atlas team. We can be reached on +44 (0) 20 3017 2299, info@atlasfinewines.com or by submitting the form below. Please note that stock may be limited and is always sold on a 'first come, first serve' basis. 

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