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High up in the hills above the small town of San Casciano dei Bagni at 650m of altitude, lies a place where climate and soil provide ideal conditions for growing pinot noir.

Cool north-easterly winds blow throughout most of the year bringing cooler temperatures and greater temperature excursions between day and night than is usual for this part of central Italy. Summer days are never too hot and the nights are always cool. Rain is scarce between April and September and what little falls is rapidly absorbed and filtered down into the depths of the porous soil.

The earth is what the Italians call “marna”, a loose composition of calcium rich clay and shale that crumbles into dust upon contact with the air. It’s poor soil that struggles to retain any moisture and warms up rapidly under the midday sun. Terrible for farming but great for vine growing. The vines face a struggle to grow, root and bear fruits, a stressful condition that ensures an uncommon crop. Not any grape varietal can grow and reach maturity at this altitude in what is essentially a mountain climate, most red grapes will not ripen, but pinot noir seems to have found here a congenial new habitat. High elevation with a peculiar nordic influence also means a longer growing season and harvests that last well into the month of October.

Here, ancient mysterious oak forests surround the vineyards in every direction, marking the terroir with rich scents of wild cherries, plums, indigenous roses, truffles and mushrooms. This is a rugged borderland that marks the end of Tuscany and the beginning of Umbria and Lazio, eschewed for centuries and unknown to most until recent times. Today, what was once an inhospitable, remote borderland is prime terroir for a most surprising pinot noir.

In 2013 our first vintage was produced, the chosen name, Sancaba, is an acronym which stands for San Casciano dei Bagni, a tribute to the name of the local town and to a great terroir.

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Vini Franchetti