CASCINA SANSONINA 20.000 years of history
The retreat of the great glacier covering the broad valley that would later become Lake Garda marked the end of the long, harsh ice age.
Würm, the fourth and final phase of global glaciations, left behind a landscape shaped largely by erosion and deposits of glacial drift from all parts of the Alps.
Around 20.000 years ago, with the materials it had gathered and carried down during the various climactic upheavals, the glacier created the morainic rim that would act as a barrier to prevent the melting glacier water from flowing away across the Po Valley. This area had been covered by the sea in the previous geologic era, known as the Tertiary period.
The land where Cascina Sansonina’s vineyards lie today appeared approximately 5.000 years later. At the time, the area formed the floor of a lake that had been left behind between the retreating glacial front and the first morainic rim known as Pozzolengo.
The sediment left by the glacier is extremely unusual and quite different from the morainic soil of the rim, which is coarse and rich in fossils. It also differs from the sediment deposited down the sides of the glacier’s tongue in formations known ad Kame terraces, that have a very uniform profile alternating sandy materials with fine, well-bedded layers.
When the glacier finally melted, it left behind glacial-lacustrine silt that was carved up to varying degrees of depth by the drainage channels that flow from tha morainic slopes to the lake, forming lacustrine ad colluvial deposits around its banks that have a much higher fossil content than the soil through which the water has passed.
Today, the pedolandescape consists of gentle glacial-lacustrine elevations – on one of which the cascina stands – and drainage channels carved fairly recently into the clayey sediment that is hydromorphous in the lowest areas.
The first 40-50 cm of the rhyzosphere consists of chalky limestone and clayey silt, and deeper down it is almost pure limestone. It lies on a solid, impermeable layer at the 130-140 cm level the unless removed often limits normal root development.
These soils belong to the “Lugana” group that normally sees the exclusive cultivation of a white variety, Trebbiano di Lugana.
Cascina Sansonina, however, has elected to grow Merlot as the variety to express the unique characteristics of this terroir that – no disrespect intended – resembles that of Petrus and was the reference model for this choice of variety.
Indeed, the famous Petrus “boutonnière” consist of Tertiary era molasses that escaped glaciation and the subsequent erosions, and is quite different from the neighbouring Pomerol terrains that were formed by glacial terraces in the Quaternary period.
Like Sansonina’s terrains, these soils consist of clay and fine silt that are know to have “inflating” properties. This creates an extremely rare mechanism that controls the water supply to the plant.
The precise dosage of water throughout its maturation is extremely important for the Merlot variety in terms of its sensory profile, as it produces aromas of earth, mushroom and truffle mingled with notes of red berry fruit, notably blackberry and blackcurrant. On the palate it offers weighty, chewy, velvety sensations and perfect phenolic maturation.
These are wines given to long ageing.
Prof. Attilio Scienza