San Giusto: drowning sorrows

san-giusto-a-rentennano-percarlo-sangiovese-toscana-igt-tuscany-italy-10135112tSan Giusto was drowned off the coast of Trieste in the third century where despite the weights tied to his body, he miraculously made landfall to be given a Christian burial and the later honour of a chapel and then a  church.

San Giusto a Rentennano is one of my favourite Tuscan estates. Nor far from Siena it is rambling and romantically crumbling borgo owned by the di Cigali family.

It has always been a huge regret that I did not push hard enough for the French agency when I was at Caveau de la Tour. Someone else slipped in and now charges a fortune.


Nevertheless the wines are some of the most elegant, weighted and measured wines produced in Chiantishire. Last year I ordered a large parcel of back vintages from a national supplier and when the order arrived there were only six of the 72 bottles of Percarlo originally ordered…1997, 1998 and 1999. Not worth selling really, so I kept them for myself.

Their top cuvée, Percarlo, is a 100% Sangiovese thoroughbred which again shows the variety and scope for interpretation of this very singular indiginous Tuscan grape.

And so with my herb grilled short ribs, new potatoes and green bean salad I opened up a 1998. Never the most sort after vintage in Tuscany, this Percarlo was very fine indeed. I note that Antonio Galloni suggests it will go no further, by why would you want it to? It’s delicious as it is.

A little like Ceparello 2001, Percarlo shows a weight and muscularity unlike what you expect from a Chianti, but at the same time envelopes the whole with a gossamer veil of acidity and distant nuance of sour cherry fruit. At the same time, it is diametrically opposite to the Burgundian elegance and filigree of Montevertine’s Pergole Torte.

All three are “Super Tuscan” mono-cepage Sangiovese. And their differences speak volumes.

But this is no bruiser. The 1998 is not showing great age; at eighteen it is a serious and full glass of wine, and unlike the Cepparello was expressive from the go.

Over 24 hours it showed itself well with a lovely solid structure filling the mouth with dark fruits and directive, elegantly structured tannin. It shows just about everything, and all in harmony and balance.


About matthewhayesbrognon

Wine Merchant
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