The oldest vines give their best on sparse land.
Clay, tuff, ancient limy river pebbles, sandstone and almost forty-year-old vines give us the finest grapes.
The 13th century observation tower which then became the Poderi Loreto and San Pio culminates on the hill at a height of 400 metres, two kilometres from the Orcia River mouth, between the Rocca d’Orcia and Castiglione d’Orcia. 200 m below, the famous river passes.
The vineyards look to the south, south-east, some to south-west. The woods and steep rocks are dispersed like leopard spots. Each has its own geological characteristic: those to the south-east have more clay and tuff with sandstone inserts. The river conglomerate with limy pebbles can be found in the south and south-west facing vineyards.
These are in any case very sparse lands with very low yield which require the vines to have years and years of rooting in order to reach the nutrients they need. For this reason the oldest vines give the best wines, such as that from the famous vigna Cru Schiena d’Asino which takes its name from the shape of the hill, positioned south-east to south-west.Schiena d’Asino and other vineyards have even more plants than they did in 1975. As one died it was substituted with a new vine to maintain the average age of the vineyard for as long as possible.
The roots of excellence.
Climate, and particularly the microclimate, play a fundamental role.
In the summer time we can have two consecutive months without any rain at all and with temperatures of between 33°C and 40°C during the day. If we add to this the continuous sea breezes, the Maestrale and the Libeccio, we can imagine just how much water the plant has to carry to its leaves in order to keep them “alive and kicking”! Water from the depths. And the wind, which on the one hand has a drying effect, on the other keep the insects and all plant diseases under control which tend to stagnate in the hot and humid air, such as powdery mildew, downy mildew and a variety of other moulds.
And this wind that is almost continuous, is another essential ingredient in the quality of our terroir: a wind that at night brings the thermometer down to 17-21°C thus reaching an almost constant night/day temperature range of about 15°C, which is decisively higher than the average in this country and in the majority of vineyard areas.
Everyone knows that a day/night temperature difference is pivotal for the formation of primary aromas in the grapes, but how does this phenomenon work? At night, when temperatures drop to below 20°C the grapeskins store many more antioxidants, such as anthocyans (which are also responsible for the colour of the wine), resveratrol (famous for the “French paradox”) and tannins.These antioxidants are not only good for health, but they are also good for the wine as they protect it from oxidisation enabling longer periods of bottle-ageing.