Empson USA Le Casematte

Fact Sheet
Anyone who has met Gianfranco recognizes his enthusiasm and passion for fine wine and the amazing island of Sicily. Today, Gianfranco owns his own winery alongside partners Filippo Pistone and Italian soccer champion, Andrea Barzagli. Set in the northeastern corner of Sicily, near Messina, Le Cassematte focuses on a single, tiny, quality-driven appellation: Faro.

The Faro DOC was introduced on December 3, 1976. The local wine, however, is extremely old ? the DOC name itself comes from an ancient Greek population, the Pharii, who settled in this spectacular nook of the Mediterranean and grew grapes as far back as the 14th century B.C. Not only is Faro one of the world?s most ancient wine areas, it is also one of the tiniest appellations in Italy.

The entire appellation is only 50 acres in size, and is contained in the district of Messina and the breathtaking messinesi hills wedged between two seas ? the Tyrrhenian and the Ionian, joined by the Messina Strait. It is a 100% native appellation, exclusively from indigenous varieties that find their ideal home on messinese soil, ranging from dark, compact, slightly acidic at the higher altitudes and alluvial towards the coast.

Gianfranco?s winery is located at Faro Superiore, high up over the Messina Strait, where the hillsides can have a gradient up to 70%. The winery was named after two casematte or casemates (a.k.a. pillboxes) from World War II, which served as observatories and defensive structures at that time. Today, in more peaceful times, the casemates are content to watch over Gianfranco?s largest vineyard, which is five acres in size.

The Le Casematte total surface area is a little over 17 acres of terraced vineyards, and is located at an altitude between 820 and 1,215 feet above sea level. Pristine and remote, these vineyards benefit from the constant sea breezes of the Messina Strait, notably the Sirocco wind during summer. Large temperature swings give the wines excellent aromatic qualities and a freshness running through the whole range.

The terrain in the vineyards are a mix of sandy, calcareous, and clayey soils that, when combined with the particular microclimate and location of the vineyards, endow Gianfranco?s wines with amazing elegance and fragrance. These are big, luscious wines that simultaneously show distinctive balance and harmony.