Fattoria Petroio lies in the heart of Chianti Classico, midway between Castellina and Siena in the hamlet of Quercegrossa. They are neighbors of the Fonterutoli estate, to whom they sold 15 HA of vine-plantable land in the early 2000s. The history of the settlement of Petroio goes back to the times of the ancient Romans as may still be seen in the ancient “opus reticulatum” wall incorporated into a farm house near the main cellar. The paved road that passes right in front of the main villa is a remnant of the ancient medieval road connecting Siena and Florence, which passed through the Chianti territory. It leads toward a small church dating back to the early 11th century and dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. The Lenzi family currently leases the chapel from the Curia in Siena and recently completed its restoration. Once a year, on Ascension Day, a Mass is said that is open to all the people from the village, followed by a ‘Fiesta’ with buffet (which the owners prepare and serve) and traditional music and dancing on the old threshing floor in front of the wine cellars. The name Petroio comes from “Pietra” which means “stone.” All the buildings were made from local stone and traditionally white washed every 2 to 3 years. In recent years they have been restored to show the stones and the wood beamed ceilings.
The Petroio estate has been in the Pallini-Lenzi family since circa 1886. The actual owner, Gian Luigi Lenzi, inherited it from his grandfather Luigi Pallini II in 1961. The entire property was originally over 160 hectares of woods, vineyards and olive groves. It now occupies 100 hectares, including 15 hectares of vineyards. Thanks to Pamela, Luigi's wife, the already existing wine production was given a shot of new energy, enthusiasm, lots of hard work and heavy investments in both the vineyards and cellars, which eventually transformed the existing rural farm into a renewed, modern high quality winery.
The Lenzi family started restoring the estate in 1980 with the help of the now renowned consulting oenologist Carlo Ferrini (WS Winemaker of the Year), who at that time was working for the Consorzio del Chianti Classico, and as an inspector gave free advice to members. He remained with the Lenzis to this day, even after leaving the Consorzio. The old family estate had 5000 white vines, so in 1983 Carlo had them hand-grafted to Sangiovese and Colorino vines; only four vines did not take! The Lenzi’s always took great pride in their clones of Sangiovese – newer clones with thinner skin, and never gave into planting international varieties.
Diana Lenzi, Gian Luigi and Pamela’s daughter, currently runs the estate with dedication, energy, and passion. Born and raised in Rome, Diana graduated in Political Science and trained as a chef – getting a diploma from the professional school of Gambero Rosso – before taking on the management of the family winery in 2008. Her dedication to making the highest quality wine possible led her to rip out all the vines she felt were inferior varieties for her terroir. In 2015, she planted three hectares of vineyards which came from a clone selection that lasted three years: “In fact we used the last vineyard from the 1960’s and selected Sangiovese Canaiolo, Colorino, black Malvasia, as well as white Malvasia and Trebbiano. Almost 70% of the cuttings came from our selection.” Professor of the Master in Food and Beverage Management and of the Online Master in Agribusiness Management, Diana became in June 2021 the president of CEJA, the Organization of Young European Farmers which brings together 30 agricultural associations and two million EU producers.
Farming/vinification practices: 2015 was the first fully organic vintage. The grapes are hand-harvested, put in small plastic bins, sorted and gently pressed. The varieties are vinified separately in glass lined cement tanks. Experimentation with indigenous yeasts has been quite successful and the aim is to move towards 100% indigenous yeasts. Pumping over is done for 8 to 10 days, three times a day, depending on the vintage. The barrels (500 liter Allier noisette barrels from Sylvain and Nadalie) are seasoned with hot water before they are used for wine. In the spring following the harvest, Ilaria Marcomini and Alessio Petrucci, together with Diana Lenzi and Carlo Ferrini, select which wine will go in the Normale and which will be blended and set aside to age as the Riserva. The wines are vegan.The yearly production averages 45,000 bottles.
“Petroio is not just vineyards, vines, olive groves, wine and olive oil. Petroio is also 247 acres of woodlands dedicated to the repopulation and preservation of the local fauna. Petroio is not, therefore, just the Lenzi family Villa at the end of the cypress drive but innumerable deers, foxes, porcupines, wild boars, hares, pheasants and many other local bird varieties that, among the tall trees and shrub, find refuge from the nearby expanding town, the cars speeding by on the once gravel road, and the local hunters now radio connected during their hunting.”
Notes on the discussed new classification:
The Consorzio has not yet made a decision regarding the subzones of Chianti Classico, but Diana Lenzi firmly believes there is a very distinctive character of soil and terroir in each of these areas. She is a proud producer of Chianti Classico from Berardenga, the communal district in which Petroio is located. In 2015, an association of producers called Classico Berardenga was started, including large wineries like Felsina and San Felice as well as very small ones. They all count the same: one head, one vote. They have a Classico Berardenga stand at Vinitaly, which represents all of them and where 9 wineries work side by side to promote their wines and the uniqueness of the terroir. They produce the only true Sienese Chianti Classicos.