The estate of San Giusto a Rentennano has undergone many transformations over the course of its history, with an inaugural period as a medieval monastery (San Giusto alle Monache). Its vocation changed drastically in the 9th century, when the Florentines adapted the structure for protection against the Sienese, equipping it to serve as a fortress. (Florence and Siena were engaged in a centuries-long battle, reaching a resolution only in the 15th century.)
The Ricasoli family of Chianti Classico fame (Baron Bettino Ricasoli authored the original formula for Chianti in 1874) presided over the estate for several centuries, with Enrico Martini di Cigala assuming ownership in 1957. It is presently overseen by three of Cigala’s children—Franceso, Luca, and Elisabetta. The estate—which is situated in the Gaiole zone of the Chianti appellation—comprises 160 hectares, 30.5 of which are planted to vines, and benefits from a microclimate marked by a dramatic fluctuation between day and night temperatures.
Percarlo—a monovarietal Sangiovese—debuted with the 1983 vintage and currently enjoys status as San Giusto a Rentennano’s most renowned bottling. It derives from low-yielding vines representing six cru sites that feature ancient soils of sand and stone, and a clay foundation. As Percarlo is crafted as a wine of considerable concentration, the grapes utilized ripen beyond the mature stage. Its stylistic orientation is born out further through the vinification regimen, which entails a fairly extensive maceration of 18 days, followed by barrique aging for a period of 20 to 22 months. It is bottled unfiltered and ages for an additional 6 months in bottle prior to being released. With peers such as Flaccianello and Cepparello, Percarlo operates in Sangiovese’s cult realm. Its minute production level (approximately 1,600 cases per year) derives, in part, from a highly regimented grape selection process: In some vintages, the entire grape production is deemed unfit.
La Ricolma—its portfolio companion—is a pure-varietal Merlot bottling sourced from several vineyard sites. It follows the vinification regimen used in the crafting of Percarlo, though it is produced in even smaller quantities (approximately 375 cases). The estate also produces a Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva, and Vin Santo; the last of these—labeled Vin San Giusto—is regarded as a standard bearer in its class.